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Microsoft also doesn't do much that is interesting. They tend to imitate and their imitations are seldom better, and are often worse, than the originals. The only moderately recent exception I can think of offhand is Kinect. Are there other innovations they've brought to market over recent years? Microsoft's research division does amazing things, of course, but I'm talking about products.

I think Windows Phone is a pretty solid innovation on the smartphone front. It's UI isn't iPhone UI++ like Android, WebOS, and others. It's new and interesting.

A lot of their living room entertainment stuff they've done with Xbox and Windows Media Center has been pretty cool. Not necessarily groundbreaking, but still neat.

...and, by extension, Windows 8 and the Metro design language, which are pretty unique in the current tech landscape.

In addition to the other examples mentioned, I would definitely call the F# and C# languages "interesting." I would also call their new approach to async "interesting." There are quite a few interesting things going on, but you don't find microsoft "interesting" you probably rarely hear about it.

What's their new approach to async?

It mostly looks like sync code, but just works. The examples I've seen in F# are much simpler than the 900 callbacks/continuations approach.

Can you make the case that C# - the Microsoft imitation of Java - is worse than the original?

Can you make the case that SQL server is worse than similar SQL DBMSs?

F# is a variant of ML and therefore not original, but is it uninteresting?

On a pure technical level C# is better than Java, and F# is one of the most interesting languages in recent years. (SQL server really does have nothing going for it).

But the pure technical level isn't all that matters for a programming language. There's not the same library community around .net, because it came five years later and not enough better than java. And there's no migration path, because - which is worse - none of the MS stack interoperates with anything else.

I would, quite genuinely, like to do parts of my current job in F#. But there's no eclipse support for it. Even if I wanted to use visual studio, which I don't, it doesn't run on linux (and that's to say nothing of deployment - our ops team has been burned enough times trying to run windows servers). If I'm going to write things in F# there has to be a way for the rest of my code to use it, but F# doesn't run on the JVM so I can't write a library in it (or call JVM libraries), and when I looked for protocol buffers support all I can see is some third-party google code project.

I wouldn't want MS to give up on .net as it's actually a really good VM, so I guess that part makes sense, but windows is useless on the workstation and the server - and it seems like all the cool MS technology only runs on windows.


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