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细数微软Windows系统30年得与失

Barb Darrow 2015年11月27日

不可否认,微软的注资帮助苹果重新站稳了脚跟,而盖茨冷漠无情的机会主义者的形象也有所改善。

对于众多生活在苹果MacBook Pro和iPhone时代的人来说,很容易忘却微软Windows操作系统曾经如何叱咤风云。然而,Windows系统毕竟是拥有超过10亿用户的产品。正如微软前任高管查尔斯·菲茨杰拉德所说,“Windows操作系统第一次让技术变成了主流的消费现象。”

11月20日是Windows操作系统30岁的生日。30年中我也曾陆陆续续跟踪过微软的动态,以下是我精选的微软这些年来得与失:

首先,让我们来看看亮点:

1、系列杀手锏产品Windows/Office

在上个世纪80年代末,微软推出了Office办公软件,这一捆绑软件涵盖适用于Windows的Word文字处理、Excel表格和PowerPoint图表程序。这三款软件起初并未整合在一起,打包出售的价格要比单独购买总价要便宜。尽管大多数买家并用不上三款软件,但买软件包看起来十分划算。

这一招营销非常高明,Office的流行不仅宣告市面上流行的文字处理、表格和图表领域的产品WordPerfect、Lotus 1-2-3和Harvard Graphics死期将至,也拉开了微软称霸桌面应用的序幕。WordPerfect、Lotus和开发Harvard Graphics的公司Software Publishing犯的另一个错误是将赌注全押在了OS/2操作系统上,这个系统起初是由IBM和微软联合支持的。

1991年,微软和IBM在OS/2方面出现了分歧,微软奉行的是操作系统至上的开发政策,这令IBM以及相关的应用开发公司大为恼火。直到现在,其中很多公司仍将微软视为竞争对手而不是合作方。如今有谁还在使用OS/2系统?

2、Windows 95操作系统

对于这一产品推出的重要意义,可以极尽溢美之词。如果说Windows 3可以称为一款相当不错的操作系统方面,那么Windows 95堪称经典之作。微软在Windows 95中还整合了在线服务软件MSN,藉此向America Online, Compuserve, MCI和Prodigy这三家在线社区霸主发起了挑战。当时每个社区都运营着互不兼容的邮件系统。

Windows 95操作系统的推手微软高管布拉德·西尔维伯格仍然记得,那年7月举行了“盛大”的公司聚会庆祝新操作系统进入RTM阶段,也就是装有Windows 95操作系统的“金色光盘”进入量产阶段。当时下载时代尚未到来,软件公司都是通过光盘向硬件厂商和零售商供货。

在随后的8月,微软在华盛顿州雷德蒙德公司园区正式举办了完全公开的产品发布聚会,与比尔·盖茨同台亮相的不仅有摩天轮,还有脱口秀艺人杰·雷诺。实在是太壮观了。对了,活动是在伴有滚石乐队经典名曲Start Me Up的电视广告中拉开的帷幕。

为了买到新版操作系统碟片,全球各地的人们在商店里排起了长队。西维尔伯格在邮件中回忆道,Windows 95的商标也出现在了帝国大厦和加拿大国家电视塔上。很多经历过当年盛况的人今年7月在微软参加了Windows 95发布20周年庆典聚会。

3、苹果与微软交好

1997年,也就是乔布斯被逐出又回到苹果公司不久,比尔·盖茨意外现身波士顿Macworld,很富有戏剧性,在业内都属罕见。当时两家公司虽说是合作伙伴,但在专利和其他问题上冲突不断。

For many who live in a MacBook Pro-iPhone bubble, it’s easy to forget just what a phenomenon Microsoft Windows has been for three decades now. It is, after all, run by more than a billion people. As Charles Fitzgerald, former Microsoft exec, put it: “Windows made technology a mainstream consumer phenomenon.”

On November 20, the venerable operating system had its 30th birthday and as someone who’s covered Microsoft on and off for much of that time, here’s a highly selective pick of hits and misses (with an assist from friends.)

First, the high points:

1.The Windows/Office killer tandem

In the late 1980s, Microsoft launched Office, a bundle of its Word word processor, Excel spreadsheet, and PowerPoint graphics for Windows. The combined package, which really was not at all integrated at first, cost less than what each individual application would have cost separately at retail. That felt like a good deal, even though most buyers never would use all three applications.

It was brilliant marketing and also the beginning of the end for the incumbent powers in the word processing, spreadsheet, and graphics categories which were WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3 and Harvard Graphics respectively. It was also the start of Microsoft’s MSFT 0.46% staggering dominance in desktop applications. WordPerfect, Lotus, and Software Publishing—the company behind Harvard Graphics— all bet on OS/2, the operating system backed by IBM IBM 1.29% and Microsoft, initially.

In 1991, Microsoft and IBM divorced over the OS/2 issue and Microsoft proceeded with a Windows-first development policy, much to the chagrin of IBM and allied application developers, many of whom now viewed Microsoft as much a competitor as a partner. How many people do you know who run OS/2 now?

2. Windows 95

It’s hard to overstate how big of a deal this product launch was. If Windows 3 was a good version of the PC operating system, Windows 95 was the killer version. In this release, the company incorporated MSN, an online service that took on America Online, Compuserve, MCI and Prodigy, the three dominant online communities of the time. Each hosted its own, incompatible email system.

Brad Silverberg, the Microsoft exec who drove Windows 95, remembers the “blow-out” company party in July to celebrate release to manufacturing (or RTM) when the “golden disc” was shipped to production. In these pre-download days, software companies had to build the discs for distribution to hardware makers and retailers.

Then in August, there was the official and very publiclaunch party, on the Redmond, Wash. campus, complete with a Ferris wheel and Jay Leno sharing the stage with Bill Gates. Just huge. Oh, and entire campaign kicked off with a TV ad featuring the Rolling Stones Start Me Up Classic.

People lined around the world at stores to get their copies. The logo was splashed on the Empire State Building and the CN Tower, Silverberg, recalled via email. Many of those involved attended a 20th anniversary bash at Microsoft in July.

3. Apple and Microsoft make nice

Few industry events were as dramatic as Bill Gates’ surprise appearance at Macworld 1997 in Boston, not long after Steve Jobs re-joined Apple AAPL 0.44% from his exile. At that time, the two companies were partners but also very much at odds over patents and other issues.

因此,当乔布斯宣布将微软IE浏览器当作Mac的默认浏览器时,嘘声此起彼伏;当乔布斯宣布微软将向苹果注资1.5亿美元时更是恐慌四起,直到乔布斯补充说投资购得的是无表决权股份时才有所好转;而当卫星传来比尔·盖茨巨幅图像,衬托得乔布斯格外瘦小时,嘘声彻底淹没了掌声。

但不可否认,微软的注资帮助苹果重新站稳了脚跟,而盖茨冷漠无情的机会主义者的形象也有所改善。(相信我,当时对盖茨的评价还有难听得多的。)

4、萨提亚的崛起,打破微软教条

在新首席执行官萨提亚·纳德拉的领导下,微软去年悄无声息地去掉了Windows Azure品牌中的Windows字样。对于一直坚守操作系统至上的微软来说,很让人震惊。

这确实是个有象征意义的举措,因为微软决心用Azure云为非Windows技术,其中包括一系列开源产品提供服务。一想到在Azure运行Linux任务,再想想微软前首席执行官史蒂夫·鲍尔默层将Linux比作癌症,微软转变的魄力不可谓不大。

这也反映了一个早已公认的事实,即数百万开发人员热衷使用的是开源技术,而不是微软自家Visual Basic之类的专用开发工具。

5、辨识英才的慧眼

30年来,微软领导层不仅慧眼识人,还成功招徕了大量人才。例如之前供职于Digital Equipment公司的大卫·卡特勒,被微软挖过来打造下一代操作系统,也就是随后微软前任高级副总裁鲍勃·穆格里亚口中的Windows NT系统。如今,他已成为数据仓储初创企业 Snowflake Computing首席执行官。

布拉德·西尔维伯格在微软竞争对手Borland International工作时曾给过微软难堪,他后来加入微软,先后负责Windows和IE业务。还有雷·奥兹,他是Lotus Notes背后的技术人员,而Lotus Notes是首批协同应用之一。

上述人员一开始都是供职于微软的竞争对手,最后却都在微软担任要职。说起来,奥兹还曾被盖茨誉为全宇宙最优秀的编程人员之一,他于2006年接任盖茨担任首席软件设计师。

So when Jobs announced that Apple would make Microsoft Internet Explorer the default browser on the Mac, there were boos and hisses. When he said Microsoft would invest $150 million in Apple, there was consternation that lifted only when he added these were non-voting shares. And when a gigantic image of Bill Gates was beamed in via satellite, dwarfing Jobs, the hissing and booing drowned out applause.

But this pact helped Apple get back on its feet, and softened Gates’ image as a soul-less opportunist. (Believe me, much worse things were said about him at the time.)

4. The rise of Satya and a less dogmatic Microsoft

Given Microsoft’s Windows-first history, it was a shocker last year when the company, under new chief executive Satya Nadella quietly stripped the “Windows” off of its Windows Azure branding.

This was significant, as is Microsoft determination to make its Azure cloud a home for non-Windows technologies including a roster of open-source offerings. To think that Azure runs Linux workloads is quite a turn about from the days when former chief executive Steve Ballmer likened Linux to cancer.

This shows a mature realization that millions of developers cut their teeth on open-source technologies, not proprietary tools like Microsoft’s own Visual Basic.

5. A keen eye for talent

Microsoft leadership through the decades had a keen eye for tech talent and was able to recruit a lot of it. Case in point: Dave Cutler, formerly of Digital Equipment, who was brought on to build the next-generation operating system, which went on to become Windows NT, according to former Microsoft senior vice president Bob Muglia, now chief executive of Snowflake Computing, a data warehousing startup.

And Brad Silverberg, who gave Microsoft fits when he worked at rival Borland International, who came to Microsoft and ran Windows and then Internet Explorer. Or Ray Ozzie, the technologist behind Lotus Notes, one of the first collaboration applications.

All were with competitors and ended up with top jobs at Microsoft. In fact, Ozzie, once described by Gates as one of the best programmers in the universe, replaced Gates as chief software architect in 2006.

1985年,雷·奥兹关于Windows策划会的笔记。

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