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Wireless Networking Microsoft Hardware

Microsoft Backs Out Of Wi-Fi Equipment Market 348

Glenn Fleishman writes "Say it ain't so! Microsoft makes good consumer Wi-Fi equipment but is exiting the market, reports. They'll sell out their inventory, but won't make new models or produce new product. I can't recall a case in which Microsoft had viable products and decent sales and exited instead of spending more money to compete more effectively. Or even when they had non-viable products (Pocket PC's original OS) and spent years and billions before they had something that worked. Perhaps competition from Cisco (Linksys subsidiary), NetGear, and even Apple (which has a disproportionate marketshare) made MSFT blink."
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Microsoft Backs Out Of Wi-Fi Equipment Market

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  • Say WHAT? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 10, 2004 @08:33PM (#9112415)
    A source close to the company said Microsoft entered the Wi-Fi field with hopes of "raising the bar" on security, ease-of-use and performance and now feels it has accomplished those goals.
    Did whomever that was say it with a straight face? That's the most ridiulous PR assertation I've seen in, well, the last 5 minutes at least.
    • by writermike ( 57327 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @08:50PM (#9112570)
      Did whomever that was say [the raising the bar on security comment] with a straight face?

      Well, they can HOPE all they want. Doesn't mean it will actually happen.

      I hope I'll win a billion dollars at the end of the night?

      I hope I'll magically have all my paperwork done in five minutes.

      I hope that Natalie Portman (with hot grits (or porridge, or oatmeal, i don't care)) will appear here by the end of the night.

      Will these things actually happen?
    • Re:Say WHAT? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SilentChris ( 452960 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @09:03PM (#9112666) Homepage
      Congratulations. You've never used a MS networking product.

      I have. They're phenominally easy to use, and basically force you to set 128-bit WEP as the default. The newer ones suggest you use 256-bit WPA, which works hunky-dory with Apple's WPA implementation. I have a MN-700 base station a short distance from me right now and it absolutely screams.

      Lest not overjudge. Like their keyboards and mice, they're damn fine products. If only they put that focus into other stuff.
      • Re:Say WHAT? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Svartalf ( 2997 )
        Okay, that gets the ease-of-use, but security's another issue altogether. WEP is insecure at ANY keyspace size because of design flaws in the scheme. It remains to be seen if WPA will be any better. While it avoids all the dumb as dirt things they did in WEP, it could suffer some of the same problems that LEAP and it's ilk recently suffered.

        Security is NOT one of Microsoft's watch-words to begin with, and thinking that it's secure just because it uses WPA or anything else is folly- especially in the
        • Your point is good, but remember that Microsoft is not any worse than everyone else, who leave WEP off by default or give you the exact same encryption options. And Microsoft networking equipment has security through ease of use-it's simple to configure security with the Microsoft product, but not necessarily so with some of their competitors.
      • by TheLittleJetson ( 669035 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @09:43PM (#9112918)
        bad news when a software company's best products are hardware. :-P
      • Re:Say WHAT? (Score:3, Informative)

        by ProppaT ( 557551 )
        Well, if you guys think Logitech keyboards are any better (and generally they're worse to be honest), you don't know keyboards. I'm using the first decent keyboard I've found to buy in years. It's an Intcomex. I has one of the most natural ergonomic splits I've ever used and the keys are nearly as sturdy as an old 80's big blue keyboard. Of course, if you're typing anywhere under 50WPM you could probably use one of those roll up, travel jelly keyboards and be fine. But if you're a real typer, you're no
      • Bluetooth (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Prince Vegeta SSJ4 ( 718736 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:34PM (#9113279)
        Like their keyboards and mice, they're damn fine products.

        while I agree on this for the most part, the Bluetooth Keyboard/Mouse Combo just plain sucks. The Mouse never goes into standby, so it's a big drain on batteries. Then 75% of the time, if the batteries die while the computer is off, you have to reinstall - which is very cumbersome.

        you have to break out the good old wired versions to do this. They don't even offer a patch to fix this, just suggest a reinstall and or relocation of the bluetooth devices. Now why the hell do I want to reinstall every couple of weeks or so.

      • Re:Say WHAT? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Wolfstar ( 131012 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @11:31PM (#9113645)
        I have. They're phenominally easy to use, and basically force you to set 128-bit WEP as the default. The newer ones suggest you use 256-bit WPA, which works hunky-dory with Apple's WPA implementation. I have a MN-700 base station a short distance from me right now and it absolutely screams.

        What planet are you on, dude? I've got an MN-500 sitting three feet from me. You know what it's doing? Accepting wireless connections in the clear from anyone in range. And no, it's not because I'm a selfless soul. In fact, all it's doing is sitting around playing WAP and switch for a few systems behind a LEAF Box [] simply because it doesn't have the friggin' HORSEPOWER to handle standard loose UDP methods in a NAT scheme. Asheron's Call - a game Microsoft PUBLISHED and currently controls the billing for - cannot be played on two systems behind it. I would assume the same goes for EQ or most other online games that use multiple port-triggered UDP connections.

        Not to mention that WEP is OFF by default, it doesn't force you to use it at ALL, and in fact they make it WAY more difficult to turn on (especially at 128-bit) than it actually needs to be - enough so that most normal people wouldn't even bother with it.

        Frankly, I love Microsoft's input devices (be they voice, mouse, keyboard, Joystick, or oddities like the Strategic Commander, regardless of whoever makes them), but their networking equipment is far beyond subpar.
      • Re:Say WHAT? (Score:5, Informative)

        by badasscat ( 563442 ) <basscadet75@y a h o o . com> on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @12:07AM (#9113856)
        Like their keyboards and mice, they're damn fine products.

        Let's not overdo it here. Their keyboards and mice are mediocre at best, just as their wi-fi equipment is. I owned an MN-500 when it was first released, and the thing wouldn't hold a connection for longer than 30 minutes. Turned out it was a known problem that a lot of other people had as well. I took it back, got myself a D-Link and haven't had a problem since. (Note: I'm not endorsing D-Link, just saying MS's products are no better.)

        MS has a ton of competition in the wi-fi market. It does seem surprising that they don't see it as a viable revenue stream but it may just be a case of one too many products taking away from their core focus (which is still OS's and Office software). It would be very hard for them to really become dominant in wi-fi because the field is so crowded; it's not a case of beating one or two enemies, as it is in PDA's or game consoles. They'd have to take down many, many well-established and respected companies. They probably just decided it wasn't worth the effort.

        As for their keyboards/mice, I just want to say that people who think these are the best of the breed just have not used a real keyboard and/or mouse. Find an IBM Model M or Northgate (Avant) keyboard and then tell me any MS model is even in the same class. MS's keyboards are the same "good enough" level of quality that everyone else seems content to make these days; rubber dome, mushy feel, questionable build quality. Calling them "damn fine" is like saying a Firebird is a damn fine sports car or the Sizzler makes a damn fine steak. Both are serviceable, but hardly in the same class as a Porsche or a Peter Luger. MS's wi-fi equipment followed the same pattern; nothing really to distinguish it from anybody else, and with the same intermittent firmware issues as every other manufacturer seems to have.
        • Re:Say WHAT? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by SilentChris ( 452960 )
          I haven't found a better natural keyboard than the one MS has made, personally. An IBM Model M is hardly comfortable and I'd prefer not to get carpal tunnel syndrome. I got an MS natural keyboard a few years after it came out and I'm firmly convinced it's help keep me away from carpal.
    • Re:Say WHAT? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by CobwoyNeal ( 778670 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @09:17PM (#9112753)
      Perhaps competition from Cisco (Linksys subsidiary), NetGear, and even Apple (which has a disproportionate marketshare) made MSFT blink." Actually, it's competition from dirt-cheap south korean and taiwanese chip makers selling at a loss. That's why AMD exited the market. To quote their VP, it was a "bloodbath"
  • Maybe MSFT is reallocating the funds to another portion of their market? Perhaps Longhorn?

    Either that or this is the first sign that MSFT is going belly-up. *g*
  • by djmurdoch ( 306849 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @08:35PM (#9112432)
    Clearly Microsoft is reeling under the impact of Linux, and is regrouping for a last stand.
  • by icekillis ( 777986 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @08:36PM (#9112435)
    perhaps it's a move toward their plans to make harware free*
  • by prostoalex ( 308614 ) * on Monday May 10, 2004 @08:36PM (#9112437) Homepage Journal
    Sales does not mean profits. Even though the sales of WiFi products more than tripled in 2003 [], the revenue growth of the market wasn't as good. Which means one thing - together with high demand the prices are falling down dramatically, and by now the WiFi equipment is heavily commoditized and thus outsourced to Chinese/Taiwanese/Indonesian manufacturers [], which in the hardware world generally means no one else is expecting to make any money off of it (the same for Ethernet network cards, CD-Rs and other products).

    The market will grow (in fact there are 700K WiFi networks [] right now, and much more are expected), but the margin range is just not there - I wouldn't be surprised if by the end of the year the WiFi prices hit such a rock bottom, that some manufacturers will in fact lose money.

    Apple is doing very nice [] - 20.2% of the 802.11g market, the first-mover advantage, and leading in revenues, outrunning even Cisco (according to Business Week). But (a) we still have to find out what the profit margins are on Apple WLAN equipment and whether SteveJ got his R&D expenses back by now, and (b) Apple is one company that is uncapable of fighting price wars. Pitch Apple against a Chinese clone factory pushing millions of WiFi access points and networks cards at half the prices, and market share is eroded. Unless Apple finds some way to lock up consumers into buying its products (easy to do with Powerbooks, not so easy with Airport access point buyers), they won't do well either in this market.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 10, 2004 @08:42PM (#9112504)
      Apple doesn't need to worry about all that shit.

      They just need to put out a product that works 100% Out-of-the-box with a Mac and it will outsell the clones, at least among the Apple market.

      The clones will sell more in total, but the clones are going into the hands of the 90% of the market that isn't Apple users.

      Apple tries to keep itself on the leading edge, which allows them to attach a higher price to recoup R&D. USB, Firewire, 802.11b and now 802.11g were all available on the Mac before the major PC OEM's offered them. As these products grow in market share and shrink in revenue, Apple will find something new to break into.
    • Apple has to be making large margins on their prodcuts, $245! []

      Apple is one of the few it seems that can share a modem connection, a definite plus in places that have yet to get broadband. Plus, the asthetics are so much better, esp. for something that may be visible to guests in your house/business. Who wants a clunky piece of blue plastic when you can have a nice little white dome with a shiny apple on it? (I'm not trolling here, I am serious)
      Probably one of the reasons that Apple will find a niche m
    • Unless Apple finds some way to lock up consumers into buying its products (easy to do with Powerbooks, not so easy with Airport access point buyers), they won't do well either in this market.

      You've answered the question yourself. Apple has "locked up" consumers with their Airport Base Station by selling it to them when they purchase the PowerBook. It's the "you'll want to buy Apple products because they work better together, even if other base stations work fine" deal.

      802.11g has been out for a long t

      • I don't know that the basestations are better, beyond looks, although the external antenna connectors are nice and that's something I'll be looking for when I get an 802.11g basestation whenever the PBG5 comes out. The basestations don't use a standard mechanism for the passwords, and they don't have a web-browser-based admin page. The password problem isn't such a big deal, but not being able to use a typical browser is a pretty big gotcha. And they're more expensive, to boot.

        Apple doesn't bundle the base
    • Apple sells so much of its gear direct at list price that they might be making $70 on a $99 AirPort Extreme Card (now bundled with all PowerBooks as part of the basic price) and $200 on a $249 Base Station!
    • by Graymalkin ( 13732 ) * on Monday May 10, 2004 @09:12PM (#9112728)
      I think they've found a way with their high end base stations. The more expensive Airports have external antenna connectors, USB ports, and built-in modems.

      There's very few other WiFi manufacturers chasing the dial-up crowd even though there's millions of them all over the place. For many the prospect of paying $30+ for internet access isn't too appealing when their $10 v.90 dial-up access suits them just fine. The modems other use is pretty sweet, the AP Extreme base stations can act as dial-in servers. You can dial into the base station and be on your network with all of your other systems.

      All of the APs support USB printer sharing on the network which is typically a $100 device all by itself. There's also quite a few situations where external antenna jacks are a requirement for a WiFi base station. APs with external antenna jacks are rarely found in the $50 WiFi bargain bin.

      Like their computers Apple's Airport base stations are more featureful products sold at a premium. Compared to cheapo base stations sold at Wal*Mart they aren't terribly good deals. Compared to other devices of the same functionality they're really competitive. I don't think they really need to do much to lock customers into their products, just offer the functionality that they want or need. It isn't so much about fighting price wars, just an unwillingness to cut out functionality to increase market share. Why compete with the Chinese clone maker cranking out millions of limited functionality base stations when they can keep selling more functional devices to the market that wants them?
    • Apple is doing very nice - 20.2% of the 802.11g market, the first-mover advantage

      I'd say it was all advertising. The fact that you think they had a first-mover advantage when they didn't (linksys had 802.11g products for cheaper, earlier) means that Job's keynote speeches are worth a mint in advertising.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Monday May 10, 2004 @08:36PM (#9112440)
    Microsoft had no real way to apply "embrace and extend" into the networking world. When it comes down to it, there isn't much different between equal models accross the brands on the consumer networking shelf.

    I've even noticed some AT&T-branded networking equipment showing up at CompUSA stores. More or less, that shelf was getting a little too crowded and stores were going to drop the weakest link if Microsoft or some other player didn't gracefully bow out soon.
  • Not first post! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 10, 2004 @08:36PM (#9112442)
    Perhaps it is because they don't see anything great and revolutionary in Wireless LAN hardware- you obey a spec, the interesting part to the user is the software interface, and Microsoft controls that still.

    The other examples (like PDA devices) represent entirely new niches in the market, or (like mice) represent strong branding oppurtunities- if you make a good product that someone handles everyday, that's decent profits and good PR (I'm a Logitech fan myself, even swapped out the MX300's red LED for a violet one).
  • They'll be back (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ghoser777 ( 113623 ) <fahrenba@ma[ ]om ['c.c' in gap]> on Monday May 10, 2004 @08:38PM (#9112469) Homepage
    "Instead, the plan is to apply the knowledge we have gained in that category to future products and services."

    Seems like the don't think their current product offerings aren what they see as being the big picture in the developing market. In the future, Microsoft will be back with new products (or rehashed old ones... which in marketing speak is new) that they think gives them better leverage, market penetration, monopoly

    Regardless, they'll be back.

    Matt Fahrenbacher
  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @08:38PM (#9112474)
    MS also started Expedia and sold it off when it became popular. Bill Gates said that it originally started as a way to push MSN, and then turned into a travel agency and he had no experience there. He wanted the company to stay in it's core market.

    I think that Cisco also doesn't want any competition for it's Linksys brand. They may have pushed MS. Cisco makes a lot of software and this may have been a deal to push some of their software to run on Windows. Vonage runs a system built by Cisco on Sun Microsystems, and this may be a backroom deal for Sun to push their software on the Windows platform.
  • I prefer linksys (Score:3, Informative)

    by dalmiroy2k ( 768278 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @08:39PM (#9112478)
    Microsoft does have some decent hardware like the Intellimouse Explorer but for WIFI I'd stick with Linksys, a division of Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • by TheDarkener ( 198348 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @08:39PM (#9112484) Homepage
    ...has always made me look to other manufacturers. I mean, seriously. I'm not trying to be an anti-M$ zealot or anything, but I trust hardware manufacturers who SPECIALIZE in hardware, not software. It'd be like buying a Jello-brand car. Sure, they make great jello, but...
    • Yeah, I hate my MS Intellimouse Explorer Optical mouse too...
    • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Monday May 10, 2004 @08:49PM (#9112567)
      Mitsubishi [] is a consumer products maker with lines of computer monitors [], high-end TVs [], and cell phones [] among other things, as well as a well-known car maker. []

      Yes, all of these companies are related.
      • For what it's worth...

        "Today, Mitsubishi companies are Japan's industry leaders in several sectors, including marine transport, aircraft manufacturing, shipbuilding, nuclear power engineering, waste treatment plants, satellites, defense contracting, glass, petrochemicals, oil products, beer, property and casualty insurance, and warehousing, among others." (from the Mitsubishi website)

        So yeah, they do a lot.
    • by RupW ( 515653 ) * on Monday May 10, 2004 @09:05PM (#9112685)
      I trust hardware manufacturers who SPECIALIZE in hardware, not software.

      Huh? Who's to say they can't dabble in another market?

      If Microsoft want a wi-fi box with their name on it, they can headhunt good wi-fi guys from another firm and set them up with a state-of-the-art factory. Hell, they can even buy another wi-fi firm outright. Does the engineers stop becoming good at wi-fi because they're working for Microsoft? No.

      When a firm that specializes in hardware builds hardware it's betting its financial future. It needs to produce stuff that's commercial and will sell enough to keep the VCs happy. When Microsoft builds hardware, it's betting its reputation. It's got deep pockets - there's more incentive to build high quality stuff with no corners cut than there is to shift boxes.

      When Microsoft started selling mice they were arguably the best around. They were expensive but good and they drove the average quality in the market up. They brought innovation (wheels, etc.) with mainstream support. Same with joysticks. Good solid sticks, digital gameport interface, more buttons, force feedback. The only reason I can think of that they've got out of the PC joystick market is that there's nothing left to innovate - their products still cut it.
      • They still make the best mice. I only say this after my Rottweiler ate my corded Microsoft optical mouse. Replaced it with a Logitech cordless, the Logitech was not sensitive enough and even at maximum acceleration, it was still too slow. Bought a Microsoft wireless, it's great. Gave the Logitech to a friend, who quickly gave it to his mother (after having the same complaint I did, and he's not even a geek).
  • by rinks ( 641298 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @08:41PM (#9112496)
    Don't know if anyone remembers these, but there is a precedent for MS releasing hardware and pulling it. They had a 900 mhz. "phone system" that had 2 cordless phones and a computer hub. Sold it for a year, pulled it. They released a speaker system that they pulled within a year or so. And, they have apparently stopped manufacturing SIDEWINDER gaming peripherals (sp?). Might be more. That's off the top of my head.
    • by OYAHHH ( 322809 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @09:34PM (#9112864) Homepage
      Add ultimate tv to that list.

      When I bought my TIVO I had a MS salesperson (they actually had one stationed at The Good Guys trying to sell the piece of junk) tell me that I was making a big mistake in buying the TIVO because they would be outta business in no time flat and that MS was the smart purchase.

      Needless to say, we know what happened....
    • What about the Actimates animatronic dolls? There were dolls in the shape of Barney the Dinosaur, Arthur, and the Teletubbies. When placed in front of a specially encoded computer game of VCR tape, the dolls would respond to parts of the on screen action.
    • I bought their USB audio system at a close-out price. Stll delievers great sound, and is perfect for a small apartment. Except for the hard-core stuff, like flight sims, PC gamers have pretty much settled on keyboard and mouse control.
    • Microsoft Hardware (Score:3, Insightful)

      by KevMar ( 471257 )
      Microsoft is not in the hardware business. If they make hardware, it is to sell more software.

      PocketPC and Tablets are a prime examples. They created the hardware platform so they could market software. I feel that their shortlived entry with sidewinder was to not only set a standard, but also to get other venders desiging hardware that takes advantage of Direct3D. Now that hardware supports it, more game developers will also suport it. It is the chicken and the egg story, but with microsoft making the
  • A bit of a shame... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by j3ll0 ( 777603 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @08:41PM (#9112497)
    I personally would have liked to have seen MS play a little bit harder in the Wireless space. Combined with their Kerberos implementation, we could have seen a commodity EAP-TLS system that worked out of the box. Boom! All of your wireless security concerns gone.

    And no....don't talk to me about open-source here. I''ve played around with building an EAP-TLS system with Free Radius [] and after two days of solid effort it still wasn't working.

    A real shame that opportunity has been missed.
    • I just bought a Microsoft MN-720 wireless card for my laptop. I didn't really care for the included router, as I already have a Belkin WAP that supports 802.11x RADIUS (the included MS one only supported WPA-PSK).

      This weekend I had FreeRadius set up and running EAP-TLS with no problem after getting the Funk Odyssey client since Win2k doesn't support WPA natively. The SSL certificates came from my Win2k AD domain, FreeRadius was set to authorize via LDAP query to the AD domain, and everything went off witho
  • Game controllers (Score:4, Informative)

    by WolfTattoo ( 732427 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @08:43PM (#9112514)
    I can't recall a case in which Microsoft had viable products and decent sales and exited instead of spending more money to compete more effectively.

    Actually, there is another market Microsoft backed out of recently, game controllers. Microsoft's Sidewinder line of Joysticks and gamepads was actually quite good. Their gamepad was the defacto standard for the PC for quite some time.

  • wi-fi usage (Score:2, Interesting)

    by js3 ( 319268 )
    Maybe they left the market because it wasn't a boom as they thought it would. I imagine wired networks are still outgrowing the wi-fi ones by a wide margin
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Microsoft made a sound card for MS-Win3.1 with voice recognition software. Both the card and the software worked well (I had one) but they dropped it after only a short time.
  • by waytoomuchcoffee ( 263275 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @08:50PM (#9112571)
    Lots of the 802.11g products that have been manufactured in the last few months 802.11g are able to be firmware upgraded to 802.11i. The big question is if this will be considered "support" from MS. I'm going to be pretty pissed if I am not going to be running AES encryption because MS decided to dump its customers.
  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @08:53PM (#9112593)

    Perhaps competition from Cisco (Linksys subsidiary), NetGear, and even Apple (which has a disproportionate marketshare) made MSFT blink.

    We are talking about the same MS, right?

    The same MS who jumped into the game console market with Sony and Nintendo? Who wrote Word and Excel, when the market already had Wordperfect and Lotus? Those guys? The ones who wrote Internet Explorer when Netscape was already on it's third release?

    You can say what you like about MS, but don't say competition scares them. They look at an unentered market the same way Peg Bundy looks at a bon-bon. They know that they can intimidate and out-spend anyone on the planet. Even the law can't stop them, because they simply view the fines as a business cost.

    A better question to ask would be why. Why would they leave a market, just when they're gaining share? This is what they live for. Move number two in this game is to take revenue from the other near-monopolies and turn this market opening into another monopoly, to fuel the next market they wish to exploit.

    It can't be that they view the market as a brick wall. They didn't view the DOJ as a brick wall! I'm supposed to believe that after that, Cisco scares them?

    I don't know why they left the market, but believe me...they have a good reason, and it's in everyone's best interest to figure out what it is. Especially the people who make WiFi equipment.


    • Actually, with all the anti-trust suits flying around, they may be taking preventive measures. Think about it, if Microsoft were to actually gain market share in the wireless device market, chances are Cisco and anybody else with a piece of the wireless pie would sue Microsoft on Anti-trust grounds, based on the fact that they have access to the Windows source code and thus can make their products work better. Granted, it may or may not be the real reason they were to gain market share, but I would seriou
    • by jhobbs ( 659809 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @09:18PM (#9112765)
      They look at an unentered market the same way Peg Bundy looks at a bon-bon.

      I am now, and forever, scared by a mental image of Bill Gates in a giant red boufont wig and spandex pants.

    • >
      Why would they leave a market, just when they're gaining share?

      MS only enters hardware when they feel there isn't anything good enough there to help sell MS Windows. Now there is, so the pull off.

      Exceptions are mice. Probably they make too much money to pull off.

    • We are talking about the same MS, right?

      The same MS who jumped into the game console market with Sony and Nintendo? Who wrote Word and Excel, when the market already had Wordperfect and Lotus? Those guys? The ones who wrote Internet Explorer when Netscape was already on it's third release?

      I'm not sure about Word, but MS bought Excel. As for IE, they bought (well, sorta) Spyglass which was based on the same Mosaic code that the Netscape authors wrote before they started Netscape.

      (The "well, sorta" for S
      • I know it might be nice to think that competition makes MS panic, but if you look at thier history, it's quite the opposite. They deal very well with competition: they crush it. That is the goal of every large successful bussiness. You want to get to the point where you are the only game in town. Usually you can't do that, but you try all the same.

        MS historicly does NOT back off, panic, or anything like that when faced with competiton. They just turn up the heat by any means they can, including some that a
    • The ones who wrote Internet Explorer when Netscape was already on it's third release?

      MS bought Mosaic from Spyglass. Admittedly they've done a fair bit since then, but the early versions of IE were very much Mosaic with a slightly different interface and a few extra features.

  • by rune2 ( 547599 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @08:59PM (#9112632) Homepage
    They introduced Clippy on the router config page:

    It looks like you're trying to trying to configure your wireless router!

    Would you like to:
    • Report the details of every packet to Microsoft
    • Send info on your open source software to Microsoft
    • Put on your tinfoil hat to shield you from our "wireless" mind-control rays
    • Redirect all Google searches to MSN
    • Conveniently open all ports on your system
  • by AndyCap ( 97274 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @09:02PM (#9112662)
    They are naturally pulling out of this market because they were among the few remaining suppliers that still sold Prism2 cards which were usable in Linux. The other suppliers like D-Link and SMC had much better soloutions in place for delivering windows only hardware and changing chipsets from time to time to discourage reverse engineering. :->

  • by MMHere ( 145618 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @09:03PM (#9112668)
    They're primarily a software company after all.

    The only thing I can figure is they enter hardware markets that will help them sell more software.

    I can understand this for Xbox (break into the gaming market with loss-leader hardware, but eventually sell lots of lucrative game titles).

    WiFi APs though? How was this going to help them sell windoze (or any other software)?
    • The software for the MS broadband networking worked with all networking products, and it was pretty good, you just needed one MS hardware component and you could use it for your network.

      The software company argument is probably not why they dropped this though. They have been dropping software titles in gaming (sold rights to AC, AC2 & cancelled Mythica). Also remember that they have been selling Keyboards & Mice like crazy for years. Basically Microsoft is a respected brand by many people (not nec
  • by KrispyKringle ( 672903 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @09:07PM (#9112696)
    I wouldn't bother. But I don't.

    Cisco (Linksys subsidiary)

    I think you've got that backwards. Cisco owns Linksys.

    Unless I'm on crack. Not trying to harp on something stupid.

  • by thirteenVA ( 759860 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @09:13PM (#9112736)
    After careful evaluation, the Microsoft hardware group has decided to scale back its broadband hardware and networking business," a representative said. "Instead, the plan is to apply the knowledge we have gained in that category to future products and services."

    Translation: After offering a product based on actual standards, which offer us no way to develop a strangle hold on consumers, we've decided to drop this product in order to devote more time coming up with a proprietary solution...
  • MS Beta Hardware (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tisme ( 414989 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @09:23PM (#9112795)
    I was a beta tester for the first round Microsoft Broadband Networking software & hardware. The networking software is very good, especially for home users who are new to networking. I have 2 laptops and 3 desktops wired with Microsoft wireless networking cards & networking cable. It was only when I got the base station and cards (beta) from Microsoft that I set up a "complete" network at home to replace my two desktop peer to peer network.

    I guess I don't mind either way... I just won't be getting any more free MS hardware. I may now have a chance to check out "the competition."

  • by buckhead_buddy ( 186384 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @09:43PM (#9112914)
    Fill in the blanks below:

    _Eighteen_months_ from now a lawsuit will be filed by _a_networking_manufacturer_ claiming that Microsoft violated a private, previously undisclosed agreement to exit the _Wi-Fi_hardware_ market if this company would _(pick_from_list_below_)_

    • end support for MS competitors
    • allow MS exclusive license this company's new technology
    • provide legal support in a Microsoft trial or contract dispute
    In the light of Microsoft's business tactics since the agreement, this company now regrets the contract and believes that Microsoft _violated_the_spirit_of_the_agreement_.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So thats it! Microsoft apparently is in the wrong business - they're really a great hardware company making lousy software!
  • by JGski ( 537049 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @09:48PM (#9112944) Journal
    It could be that Microsoft realized that just because they're the biggest ape on the block that it doesn't necessarily mean they are infinitely powerful or infinitely successful because of it.

    Add to this that there's a chance of a moderate-to-severe cash crunch for Microsoft sometime between now and when Longhorn finally (if ever) does come out, current cash on-hand notwithstanding. There's also some of uncertainty about whether demand will be there when it does finally arrive.

  • I can't recall a case in which Microsoft had viable products and decent sales and exited instead of spending more money to compete more effectively

    I don't know what they sales were like compared to the DirecTV Tivo units, but perhaps UltimateTV is such a case?

    I have one, and it is at least as viable as Tivo. They were behind on some features originally (e.g., nothing like "season pass"), but had dual tuner support first, and picture-in-picture. They updated the firmware a couple years ago to add all t

  • A pointless anecdote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by evilpenguin ( 18720 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:02PM (#9113050)
    I would like to just mention that I have had the same 802.11b PCMCIA card and access point for almost three years now, but on a recent business trip, it got broken.

    Several trips to a SuperJumboElectroMegaHut (or a Best Buy, I can't remember which) later, the only 802.11 card that would work "out of the box" with my Linux laptop was a Microsoft MN-520. All the others on the shelf used one of the either not supported or barely supported 802.11g chipsets.

    For various job-related reasons using non-standard kernel patches wasn't an option for me, so the few other supported cards were out.

    It is getting harder and harder to find wireless cards that work well with the stock kernel (or the Fedora/RedHat kernel, which, of course, can't really be considered a stock kernel).

    So I'm sorry to see Microsoft leave this market because they were the best provider of Linux-friendly Wi-Fi cards. Ironic, innit?
  • by base_chakra ( 230686 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @11:38PM (#9113693)
    Microsoft makes good consumer Wi-Fi equipment but is exiting the market...

    It was my understanding that their appliances were very easy to configure, but the performance is poor and the feature set is wanting. Still, I suppose this is somewhat disappointing since there is a need for easy-to-use gateways. Many users looking for uncomplicated solutions will probably turn to Linksys products instead, which are arguably worse.
  • by binarybum ( 468664 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @11:53PM (#9113781) Homepage
    I have tried quite a number of 802.11 base stations and receivers and found M$'s to have by far the strongest most reliable signal, to be the easiest to setup and manage, and to encompass all the important features a wireless system should have without being overly complicated or buggy. Oh, and how can I forget, their tech support for these products is light years ahead of most of the other wireless vendors.
    I am really bummed to hear this news, but when microsoft never released any firmware updates for their 802.11b line of products for over a year (actually they did end up releasing one update I believe for the base station, however it was not available through the update feature included in the wireless software) and especially when they began releasing support for WPA in their OS but never released any upgrades to allow their existing wireless products to take advantage of WPA, I started to guess that they were not too serious about competing in this market.

  • by Lurks ( 526137 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @02:48AM (#9114389) Homepage
    I can't recall a case in which Microsoft had viable products and decent sales and exited instead of spending more money to compete more effectively.
    They did exactly the same in the games controller market. They were the market leader and were making a profit but pulled out anyway. The reason is, they don't like competiting in hardware with low margins. Strategically it's not something Bill wants to do.
  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) * on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:50AM (#9115271)
    You forget that Microsoft is a publicly traded companies. So they are managed by bean counters. Because WiFi equipment is extremely competitive (keeping price down) they cant stay competitive with the other guys who are making the products that are going down in price to the sub $100 category. And keep a high profit ratio. The accountants at Microsoft don't care how well the product works just check to see how many are how much they cost to make (beyond just the parts), how much they sell it for and the percentage of profit they make. So even though they are making a profit selling the products it is not as high as the investors want so they stop the product line. The reason the Mice, Keyboard, Joysticks often sell better because the %s are better. Heck how much does it cost to make a mouse. Including labor $10 and you sell it for $20 They make a 100% profit. Or a keyboard which probably cost $12 to make and they sell it for $80. Those are pretty good ratios. now WiFi equipment is a bit more complicated then a mouse or keyboard. So they could cost $50 to make and they sell it at $75. So the profit ratios is way less plus they are not selling a ton of them like mice and keyboards, Plus the fact that wifi equipment you hide in a little spot in your house it doesn't have much of an advertising value like a mouse or keyboard would were everyone sees it.
  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:51AM (#9115277) Homepage Journal
    It's a lot easier than trying to reinvent the wheel.

Someday somebody has got to decide whether the typewriter is the machine, or the person who operates it.