Gossip is keeping Bobby happy

Gossip is keeping Bobby happy

Bobby sees distinct parallels between South Park and Microsoft.

To fill the void Rose's absence has left in me, I went to mollify by sadness by seeing South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut last week. Well, OK, I actually went now because when Rose comes back, there's no way she'll want to see it.

Please don't get me wrong. I don't endorse pornographic animated musical comedies about little 8-year-olds, but I still don't agree that the South Park creators have sold out, as some online newsgroups are charging. I saw them in an interview, and they said they came to Hollywood to sell out, so it was all part of the plan.

Although not selling out, Network Associates is planning on spinning off its recently developed business as an antivirus product and services site strictly for the consumer market. The site will provide the actual antivirus applications, as well as updates of new viruses as they are found. The development of corporate antivirus applications will continue to be developed internally by Network Associates.

SPSS is currently debating whether to sell out. It seems that SPSS, one of the top three providers of business intelligence tools, is actively negotiating with both Microsoft and IBM. The folks in Redmond want SPSS to endorse the data mining extensions in the latest version of SQL Server, while IBM wants to make SPSS a front-end tool set for its own business intelligence and knowledge management wares. Meanwhile, SPSS is well along the path of rearchitecting its products as a set of Java components that make heavy use of Extensible Markup Language to share data.

SPSS should know the dangers of partnering with Microsoft, in that they'll take you out for lunch one week and eat you for lunch the next. Just this week alone, in a classic Freudian slip, Microsoft Network's MoneyCentral site had to issue a correction to a press release, fixing Merrill Lynch from Merrill Lunch.

And people who think there's no such thing as a free lunch should look into buying stock. The technology has already caught on like wildfire, due to people sharing music for free, but the company is now about to go public. Either the company is staying true to its grassroots spirit or there was a typo in an e-mail they sent out to potential investors, which told them the offering price was expected to be between 0 cents and 0 cents per share. I suppose no one will be able to accuse them of not surpassing expectations.

Back to a familiar target for missed expectations, Microsoft recently removed its developer products from its support Web site. Instead, there's a link informing developers about new pay-per-use options, not to mention raising the priority support from $US160 to $250 a call. A reader recently complained that during his last tech-support call, he had to train the tech support person in basic Visual Basic just so they could research the problem.

Microsoft should take its cues from South Park. Both started small and grew quickly into huge enterprises, but only South Park seemed to improve in the process.

Robert X. Cringely is a regular contributor to ARN's sister publication Infoworld.

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