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December 11, 2012 10:56 PM   Subscribe

Ballmer, Sinofsky and the struggle for the soul of Microsoft
posted by Artw (52 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
My experience in working with ex-Microsoft execs in the late 90s makes me wonder how that company ever accomplished anything. They appeared to value the appearance of effort so much over results that I can't conceive of them building anything functional.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:20 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


You can blame stack ranking for that. If you've 10 guys on a team, 2 will get great reviews, 7 will get moderate reviews, and 1 will get a crap review. Regardless of effort expended in toto, you just have to appear to look better than your immediate colleagues. Which means if you want to succeed at microsoft, you need to excel at tooting your own horn above all else. Microsoft's lost decade is a pretty incisive article about Microsoft's - and particularly Ballmer's - failings.

His biggest flaw is that he's all hat, no cattle. Coming from the sales side, he sees it as his job to relentless promote and embiggen microsoft products, with constant proclamations of how awesome their latest product is, promising the moon - which can't possibly be delivered. He also has a habit of micromanaging, dipping into lower level decisions with quick choices with no reference to the impact that causes. He's been coasting on previous microsoft success as defacto monopoly, and simply hasn't had the ability to adjust now that microsoft has been eclipsed by Apple, Google and Nintendo in most of their consumer markets.

All they have left is desktop windows, active directory in business, and office. The latter of which is becoming increasingly irrelevent as people realise they don't actually need it - only exchange/outlook in business is keeping it alive. And BYOD is increasingly eating their lunch in business settings. IT departments aren't fond of ipads/iphones/droids in corporate settings as they don't play that well with microsoft gear and can't be controlled or secured centrally very easily - but that, of course, is part of why the users like them.

By all accounts, Sinofsky was a pretty unpleasant man to work for, but he did have a laser focus on delivering - he took vista, and delivered windows 7 in a pretty short period. So it's not like microsoft is totally devoid of decent engineers and developers, and with management not screwing it up, they did actually produce a pretty solid OS - better than OSX at the time, frankly, though that's partly because Apple was, and is, so focused on iOS and their big profit making machine, which is not imacs.

Under the bonnet, windows 8 is actually pretty good - there's some distinct and noticeable improvements over 7 in performance and system tools, and having recently worked with storage spaces and hyper-v in 8 and server 2012, I'm actually quite impressed. Not getting rid of our vmware setup any time soon, but it's not bad. Utterly eclipsed by that half-finished monstrosity that is metro, of course.

Why the hell microsoft didn't spin off metro UI as a new OS compiled for ARM/x86 (so it could also run on medfield and follow-ups). Unify phone, tablet and maybe xbox 720 with a core kernel and system libraries shared with the desktop and server line. But leave the desktop and server UI alone. I have now used windows 8 on an ultrabook with touch-screen - the hybrid approach they're going for - and it's still two OSes bolted together and getting in each other's way. It just doesn't work, and I've been using 8 for half a year now.

If they absolutely had to bring the new UI to windows, do it as an overlay, like OSX's dashboard, rather than try and wedge non metro shortcuts and live tiles into the same metaphor.

But windows 8 is a pretty good example of current day microsoft. Muddled, pulled about by conflicting management all trying to promote their own hobby horse, and trying to do far too much to be all things to all divisions. Some good bits, but hobbled by the lack of a coherent idea of what it's actually for.

The sooner the stockholders finally revolt and boot out Ballmer, the better, for microsoft.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:10 AM on December 12, 2012 [28 favorites]


Microsoft has a soul? Wow. Did not know that.
posted by quadog at 12:35 AM on December 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Corporations are people, my friend.
posted by flippant at 12:40 AM on December 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


Okay, this probably isn't the place but I'm going to air my complaint anyway. I cannot stand their advertising and product placement. It's so clumsy. Did anyone catch their Surface ad in Elementary the other night? It was so bloody heavy handed. And when someone in a TV show says they're going to "Bing it" I wince and am immediately taken out of my suspension of disbelief. It's like a bucket of cold water to the face.

It's either that, or commercials that are trying to sell a solution to a problem that doesn't actually exist. And they're always 10 steps behind, but try to pretend they're not. When the earlier windows 7 phone came out with ie 7, my mind was blown. So much of the mobile web was taking advantage of css3 and html5, and they put out a phone with a 5 year old browser. . .

Rant aside, I think there marketing shows they really just don't get their customers. I was sort of surprised at how not bad windows 7 was, and now hearing the guy that made that happen has left leads me to believe the next iteration after win 8 will be vista mobile.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 1:14 AM on December 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


I just saw the Elementary product shot. It was for Surface AND Bing. So painfully blatant.
posted by brundlefly at 1:18 AM on December 12, 2012


Those "Are you getting SCROOGLED???" ads are precious. Very last-decade.
posted by bardic at 1:24 AM on December 12, 2012


My experiences inside Microsoft is that it consists of many smart people having fun. There's a lot of spontaneity, comedy, and eccentricity. There are many souls involved and people are very passionate about good engineering practices. I'd say that Microsoft's soul is rooted in beauty of nature and the earth paired with a heartfelt desire for minimalism.
It is a kind of ecotopian Switzerland if you can imagine that.
posted by niccolo at 1:48 AM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can only imagine.
posted by clarknova at 2:07 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess this warrants trotting out the org chart of your favorite tech companies. Microsoft is an incredibly frustrating organization to work with/for/in because of the incessant infighting and aggressive jostling for positions at the various management levels. It's a pity because they did yeoman's work on the .NET platform over the past decade and they developed some really nice interactive technologies over that same period (XAML, Surface, DeepZoom, Pivot, Aero, Metro, even the Ribbon UI). By and large that work fails to get traction in the wider market though. Very few people outside the Microsoft sphere of influence seem to understand how expressive XAML templating/styling/binding is for instance, or how C# has come unto its own with the addition of dynamic types, lambda expressions and LINQ. More importantly, no-one cares, and more important still, the not-caring is entirely justified: it's hard to get enthusiastic about whatever garden path Microsoft has chosen to amble down these days given their track record of market failures and broken promises. I'm not sure what it will take to reverse that trend or even whether it's worth it under current leadership. As good as some of their stuff is (or could be with just a little effort), by itself that doesn't offset the creepy, cravenly opportunistic vibe that comes down all the way from the top.
posted by deo rei at 2:34 AM on December 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


All they have left is desktop windows, active directory in business, and office.

This is the latest Samba release from just yesterday, including a complete implementation of Active Directory. I don't know enough about AD to say if MS should be worried, but it's there.


Rant aside, I think there marketing shows they really just don't get their customers.

I believe this is a side effect of the distorted market situation - more so in the past than now, but the effects are becoming more apparent as actual competition increases. When you are the overwhelming default choice, your ability to understand the customer stops being such a critical survival skill and is bound to atrophy.
posted by Dr Dracator at 3:17 AM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Welcome to the social

Posted from my Zune
posted by Auden at 3:54 AM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


They appeared to value the appearance of effort so much over results that I can't conceive of them building anything functional.

Have they built anything functional? From the outside perspective, I find there to be 3 classes of software:

1) Terrible MS implementations of standards (email being a great example).
2) Excellent implementations of terrible MS software (e.g. LibreOffice very successfully reproduces what it is like to struggle through using Office)
3) Good software

None of these groups include a category were "functional Microsoft software" could live.
posted by DU at 4:08 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


DU: 3) Good software

Windows 7 is downright good software; after being scared by Vista, they got their ducks in a row, and shipped something that's pretty great. Not much waffling, benefits focused on consumers first, Microsoft second, except for the DRM bullshit -- but you can avoid that by simply not using anything that has DRM on it, and not using Microsoft's tools for media playback.

Windows 8 is Vista all over again -- everything in it is meant to benefit Microsoft, not you. When I was looking at the beta (and keep in mind that I was kind of excited about Metro, when I first heard about it).... my first impression was this: the Start page had about eight ways to give Microsoft money, but no help screen. That, right there, should tell you everything you need to know about Metro.

The fact that nobody can use Metro without paying toll, above and beyond paying for the operating system, is just the shit frosting on a poop cake. If Windows 8 and Metro prosper, there will never again be anything allowed in that space that's seriously disruptive to Microsoft in any way. And you can't turn Metro off; you are stuck with it, no matter what. You can kind of avoid it, but not completely, and they're doing their best to deprecate the desktop just as fast as they can, trying to push everything into the Windows RT world, where everything is safe for Microsoft, forever.

On Windows RT, you can't run Firefox. Just, flat, can't run it. Or Chrome. It's not allowed. It's the same basic codebase; there's no reason to lock you out of your own hardware, but that's what they're doing.

It's especially egregious with Microsoft, because they don't even make the fucking hardware, but they STILL insist that they own it, forever, and you don't. At least, with Apple, they make the damn hardware, so the fact that they're not really selling it to you is maybe a touch less egregious. But on an ARM tablet, the maker sells it to you, and then Microsoft steals it away again, telling you what you can and can't do with hardware you didn't buy from them!

It's ridiculous when Apple does it, but Microsoft? They have balls the size of fucking Texas to tell you that you don't own hardware that they didn't make, that you can't opt out of running their software, and that you're not allowed to install anything they don't like.

But people are still taking this lousy deal! And as long people keep taking these deals, which are the computing equivalent of check-cashing places, the deals will just keep getting lousier.
posted by Malor at 4:50 AM on December 12, 2012 [18 favorites]


In the end, the death spiral for Microsoft is in full effect, and management is expending a lot of effort to speed it up. Anyone who dares point out that the entire system is collapsing, or worse yet suggests an alternative, gets Sinofsky’d. Or was it Guggenheimer’d? In any case, Microsoft is unwilling to change, and that is very clear. Even if they wanted to, they are culturally far beyond the point of being able to. What was a slow bleed of marketshare is now gushing, and management is clueless, intransigent, and myopic. Game over, the thrashing will continue for a bit, but it won’t change the outcome. Microsoft has failed.
posted by Egg Shen at 5:37 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


From Egg Shen's link:

The rules in Redmond were, “Do not change anything unless it is to crush someone doing something innovative”.

Very Microsoft, but to be fair, also true of any big company. Companies all hate competition and innovation. The fact that the bigger a corporation gets the more it hates and attempts to destroy competition is one of capitalism's intractable tendencies to self-destruction.
posted by colie at 5:56 AM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


That link from Egg Shen is horribly written, but incredible damning!
posted by OmieWise at 6:48 AM on December 12, 2012


Companies all hate competition and innovation.
Whether they hate it or not may be debatable, but the good ones learn to live with it.

Most of silicon valley seems to have absorbed the lesson that you must kill your own children - because if you don't someone else will. Case in point, Apple's iPad mini is eating into their standard iPad sales, but they're OK with that because it's better than having Google and Amazon getting those sales.

Microsoft has consistently chosen to pump their cash cows full of antibiotics and steroids to keep them going as long as possible rather than innovating to replace them.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:01 AM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Amid all this I think it's important to keep in mind that Microsoft has been proclaimed dead quite a few times already and although they're clearly struggling they're nowhere near dead yet. One of the reasons they have failed to field a credible answer to the challenges they're facing is that part of the appeal of the competition is simply that they're not Microsoft. It's the bitter harvest they're reaping from their loathsome modus operandi over the years. It's been said before by others but perhaps the only way forward for Microsoft in the long term is to dissolve the brand and split it up into separate companies: development tools and support, server solutions, and office productivity or something like that. You would lose the "integration" touted by Ballmer but where is the value in having an integrated offering if it saddles your products with crap that nobody wants or cares about?
posted by deo rei at 7:16 AM on December 12, 2012


I'd say that Microsoft's soul is rooted in beauty of nature and the earth paired with a heartf"elt desire for minimalism."

Well, from my perspective OUTSIDE of Microsoft, if this is true they do a really, really good job of hiding their true nature then. Either that, or they got you to drink some really good kool aid before posting here.

I'm seriously interested in your comment. What elements of the company did you see that are not apparent to everyone else? Because from here looking in, Microsoft is just a hot mess blindly pursuing the dollar, and usability be damned.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:34 AM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


"I cannot stand their advertising and product placement."

Agreed. They plastered their crap everywhere lately. The more of the Windows 8 and Surface ads I see, the more desperation I smell. Especially as most of the ads don't actually show anyone USING the products, they just show that the product exists.

Worst ones in my mind? The small, rectangular yellow Windows 8 ads that popped up periodically in the lower edge of the screen during college football games this season. Thanks, Microsoft. Seeing a yellow rectangle out of the corner of my eye during the game really makes me love your product. Oh no wait, it made me hate you even more because it kept tricking me into thinking there were fouls called on EVERY DAMN PLAY. The placement of the ads - and the color - was either the brainchild of some evil bastard in Marketing or (more likely) a complete accident that just highlights how clueless and out-of-touch the company has become.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:42 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Companies all hate competition and innovation.

> Whether they hate it or not may be debatable, but the good ones learn to live with it.


... perhaps they do - after, or simultaneously with, trying every vicious and negative thing they can think of rather than innovation and competition: patent wars, takeovers, loss leaders, bribery, screwing suppliers, lawsuits, mass sackings, tax avoidance...

All that stuff is a lot easier, more likely to succeed in the short term, and comes a lot more naturally to most people than 'competing.' In fact when the stock market praises 'competitive' companies, don't they just mean companies that are good at all that stuff?
posted by colie at 8:30 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Microsoft is an incredibly frustrating organization to work with/for/in

You should try being their identified enemy some time! :)

... heartfelt desire for minimalism

At this point the only minimalism we've seen in decades from MS is the new logo and the terrible Windows 8 UI. Both of which I'm starting to think are really just ploys to hide how terrible the screen on the surface is.
posted by atbash at 9:09 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


You guys are kidding yourselves that Microsoft is any worse than any other large company or that any sortof death spiral is going to happen soon. As for innovation, they introduce stuff like kinnect, windows 8, that damn ribbon interface, PLINQ. Maybe they do just plain suck, but what do you guys want? Innovations that are good?

They have also been under the DOJ consent decree for years, any company would have a lost decade under those conditions.

Let me know when I can run chrome, Firefox, or IE on my iPad, that is the same thing as running chrome on RT. seriously, just don't buy RT and your problem is solved.

I'm not in really in favor of Microsoft decreeing that metro apps must go through the store, unless you jump through a fair amount of hoops, but I understand their reasoning. Windows has been a cesspool of malware forever, they are trying to force some accountability and standards. Is it a worthwhile trade off? Maybe. Maybe the 5% who care already switched to OSX and the rest of the filthy unwashed masses will benefit from not being able to install every random attachment they come across.

the latest Samba release from just yesterday, including a complete implementation of Active Directory. I don't know enough about AD to say if MS should be worried, but it's there.

It isn't really about the server, but about the ability to manage a large scale rollout. Apparently Apple has something comparable, and I'm sure your could roll your own in Linux. The thing is, there is a higher demand for sysadmins than there are quality sysadmins, many need the simple point and click tools Microsoft supplies for AD.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:19 AM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, anyone who dislikes RT, metro, surface, or C++ should be happy they fired Sinofsky. It is also bizarre to say Ballmer has less experience than Gates. At this point, Ballmer has worked at a software company as long as Gates ever did, it isn't like he was the CEO of Pepsi before he became CEO of Microsoft. Besides, it isn't like Gates wrote windows himself, he wrote donkey.bas. Steve Jobs himself belies the fact that you need to be some sort of super nerd to run a tech company. Nobody would argue Jobs wasn't effective and I doubt he ever wrote a line of code.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:32 AM on December 12, 2012


Amid all this I think it's important to keep in mind that Microsoft has been proclaimed dead quite a few times already and although they're clearly struggling they're nowhere near dead yet.

I hear that one of Microsoft's house psychohistorians has gone off to a remote location in Kansas to found some kind of Encarta spinoff project which, though it can't prevent the fall of MS, will at least hasten the arrival of its replacement.
posted by COBRA! at 9:40 AM on December 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


My experiences inside Microsoft is that it consists of many smart people having fun.

Microsoft contains multitudes. What I experienced was a miserable, grinding bureaucracy, a hell of endless meetings where all the smart people were emotionally checked out because there's no point in having ideas when you'd need to push them up through half a dozen layers of management just to get them put on the schedule for work to begin maybe two or three years out, and where "teamwork" consisted of making sure nobody else threatened your spot on the stack-rank. Worst job I've ever had, without question.

And at the very same time, friends of mine were working in other groups and having a ball. Some of them still work for Microsoft today and love it. I conclude that there is really no such thing as "working for Microsoft": there are groups within Microsoft, and the differences between them are large enough that they might as well be separate companies.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:43 AM on December 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


Also, anyone who dislikes RT, metro, surface, or C++ should be happy they fired Sinofsky.

Or Windows 7. Fans of Vista should be applauding Balmer.

Also, people dislike the Surface? I finally got to try one recently and it was pretty nifty, especially the keyboard options, both of which were surprisingly good given the depth. Not nifty enough to overcome it being way more expensive than I'd pay for something that was I was just using writing and email of course. And it should come with the keyboard, that's the point, DUH.

Looks like you can actually buy it at stores now.
posted by Artw at 10:18 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Come on, Samba 4!!!
posted by wenestvedt at 11:38 AM on December 12, 2012


It's a shame that Microsoft is slowly decaying, because they represent the only meaningful competition to Google in several important markets. Most significantly search; in the US and Europe the only independent search engines are Google and Bing. (Yandex and Baidu compete with Google in Russia and China, but not in European languages). IE is also an important competitor to the Safari/Chrome/Firefox triumverate, particularly when you look at advertising revenue deals. There aren't many companies with the size, expertise, and history to take Google on head to head. It's increasingly looking like an unfair fight though.
posted by Nelson at 11:58 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


What has always troubled me about Microsoft is the way marketing and sales dominate everything, to the extent that even their technical documentation is infected by "Microspeak." Want to put up a website? No, you can't do that. You can, however, "host a enterprise solution that serves rich content to the end user via an innovative experience." You have to slice through the layers of marketing baloney to decode what they're actually saying. And, when you're done, all you're left with is: yeah, you can put up a website.

You encounter this nonsense with marketdroids from any vendor. But the Microsofties, at every level, seem to adopt this thieve's cant and try to impose it on everyone. At the risk of hyperbole, they're like Scientologists with EULAs.

Look, I'm just some guy who needs to get shit done. My metric for Microsoft, or any vendor, is "do they help me get shit done?" And this is why I despise Windows 8 and all the marketdroid thinking behind it: not only will it not help me get shit done, it will actively try to prevent me from getting shit done.

It's like Bob and Clippy have returned. And, this time, they're looking for a little payback.
posted by SPrintF at 2:08 PM on December 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Ad hominem: "Let me know when I can run chrome, Firefox, or IE on my iPad, that is the same thing as running chrome on RT. seriously, just don't buy RT and your problem is solved."

Chrome has been available on iOS for a while. Firefox, not yet. There are other browsers available, some of which are pretty neat. No IE app yet, though I can't imagine why anyone would want to use IE on any device.
posted by xedrik at 3:32 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chrome on iOS still has to use the same rendering engine as Safari. It won't have any of Chrome's changes or optimizations to WebKit

Any of the app store browsers will just be throwing their own frame around the buiilt-in browser: Chrome, Opera, Dolphin, etc. So it's still very restricted on the iOS side. I suppose this is slightly better than being locked to IE with Windows RT but it's not much better.
posted by honestcoyote at 3:47 PM on December 12, 2012


Firefox Metro Preview for Windows 8 - Presumably that would work on RT too, not Desktop mode though. TBH Desktop mode on RT is a bit of a weird concept - it's for doing file stuff, okay, and Office, and that's it? Weird. Having it strictly as a file browser and moving Office to Metro (or whatever it is called these days) would have made more sense.
posted by Artw at 3:58 PM on December 12, 2012


No, that won't work on RT. I can't find the link just now, but per Mozilla, Microsoft does not allow enough functionality in Metro mode under RT for a browser to operate, at least a browser that resembles what we expect out of one.

The only browser that can exist under RT, unless Microsoft makes specific exceptions, is Internet Explorer.
posted by Malor at 4:49 PM on December 12, 2012


I'd be interested in knowing the details of that.
posted by Artw at 5:03 PM on December 12, 2012


Why mozilla believes Firefox on Windows RT is a Bust
Of particular concern are the APIs that IE has access to which Microsoft is denying other browsers, including VirtualAlloc / HeapAlloc and friends, CreateNamedPipe, ConnectNamedPipe, DisconnectNamedPipe, CreateProcess, and various others.

These APIs allow for things like making memory executable, a prerequisite for building a JIT [just-in-time compiler]. Without a JIT, it will be impossible to build a modern browser. These APIs also allow for things like spawning additional processes, and communicating between them -- something we use to isolate plug-ins for security and stability purposes and other browsers, including IE, use to isolate tabs and windows for security and stability purposes.
posted by jepler at 5:40 PM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


(though I see that commentators on other sites are saying that this information is inaccurate, and at the very least it's months old and from before the release of Windows RT; technical corrections are welcome)
posted by jepler at 5:42 PM on December 12, 2012


Microsoft's MSDN documents that VirtuaAlloc(Ex) is only available in desktop apps. A random other API, GetProcessHeap is listed as being available on Windows Store apps. So unless Microsoft's docs are wrong, the availability claim is accurate.
posted by jepler at 5:45 PM on December 12, 2012


That would be the case for both Win8 and RT though, wouldn't it?
posted by Artw at 5:50 PM on December 12, 2012


Right, except that there's some kind of desktop-only exception that allows a Metro browser application (and only browsers?!) to access win32 functionality. An article from february: Windows 8 browsers: the only Metro apps to get desktop power; this article seems to correspond to the current white paper titled Developing a new experience enabled Desktop Browser (search for the title to download a .docx of the white paper; it opened fine in libre office).
posted by jepler at 6:41 PM on December 12, 2012


Yerch. First I've heard of a hybrid category. Sounds icky.
posted by Artw at 6:53 PM on December 12, 2012


Wasn't aware of the restricted-but-not-quite-but-yeah-actually-it-is-sometimes model. Not unlike net neutrality, but on different turf. Seems weird now but I guess we'll get used to it soon enough...
posted by deo rei at 3:52 AM on December 13, 2012


Or, you could just refuse it. This isn't for your benefit, this is for Microsoft's benefit. You don't need to get used to it.

You can stick with Win7 for now, where you can actually do what you want with your computer, without needing permission.
posted by Malor at 7:29 AM on December 13, 2012


FWIW, iOS has the same restriction about not allowing apps to execute memory they write to. That's why there's not really any other browser on iOS other than Mobile Safari; all the other browsers are just reskinned versions of Apple's WebKit. Crucially, none of the other browsers have their own Javascript implementation. (Apple's restrictions go deeper than JIT, actually; they generally frown on embedded interpreters of any kind.)
posted by Nelson at 10:08 AM on December 13, 2012


Wow, that Scroogled ad is basically Micorsoft paying money to look like assholes.

/headdesk.
posted by Artw at 1:55 PM on December 13, 2012


Why all the hate for JIT? It seems unlikely to be technical. Is it just to stop people from clandestinely smuggling an app store into their app store?
posted by jepler at 7:42 PM on December 13, 2012


Because that would mean you could execute code that Apple or Microsoft hadn't approved.
posted by Malor at 7:47 PM on December 13, 2012


jepler: while I'm sure that's part of it, the friendly explanation is that it prevents people from gaining unauthorized access to your system by exploiting bugs in the web browser. If the browser can compile a bunch of Javascript code into a buffer and then execute the machine code in that buffer, then a clever hacker could potentially find a way to trick the browser into executing arbitrary machine code, thereby allowing the hacker to gain as much access to the device as the browser has.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:25 AM on December 14, 2012


The reason JITs aren't allowed goes a bit deeper than just Javascript. The core decision here is that some pages of memory are marked as executable for program code and some are marked as non-executable for program data and never the twain shall meet. Futhermore the code segments are immutable; once loaded, they can't change. With those code and data rules in place all sorts of hacker attacks (and DRM cracks) get a lot harder; the system can do a bunch of protection up front on code loading and then know that no new code is going to be created behind its back. It's pretty good security practice. Unfortunately it makes it impossible for a program to write some code into memory and then execute it. Which is a relatively rare thing for programs to want to do, unless you're a JIT compiler, which is all about writing code to execute.

Apple's also just kind of bastards about allowing interpreters on iOS. That's less to do with security and more to do with preventing folks from smuggling apps into the app store. Their policy is a bit inconsistently defined and enforced.
posted by Nelson at 4:18 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


A Political Brawler, Now Battling for Microsoft:
Mark Penn made a name for himself in Washington by bulldozing enemies of the Clintons. Now he spends his days trying to do the same to Google, on behalf of its archrival Microsoft.

Since Mr. Penn was put in charge of “strategic and special projects” at Microsoft in August, much of his job has involved efforts to trip up Google, which Microsoft has failed to dislodge from its perch atop the lucrative Internet search market.
posted by octothorpe at 10:58 AM on December 15, 2012


Former Windows chief Steven Sinofsky launches new 'Learn by Shipping' blog
posted by Artw at 5:17 AM on January 4, 2013


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