OK, I hit the daily double this morning... links from both Dave Winer and Rober Scoble to my response to Mark Lucovsky.
I usually just let the comment thread go on its separate way, but let me go ahead and reinforce one point: I didn't mean to(and don't) compare just Longhorn alone to sending a man to the moon, though I was admittedly vague on that point (apologies). I meant to compare Microsoft's entire R&D effort with it -- because on a monetary level, it's actually pretty equivalent. That includes:
An operating system, including several file systems, security system, Web browser, file server, and a shell
A Web server
An Enterprise-scale database engine
An Enterprise-scale email server
An Enterprise-scale e-commerce server
An Enterprise-scale management product
An Enterprise-scale firewall
A speech-application server
Several compilers and a development environment
A word processor
A presentation program
A note-taking application
A desktop database application
A PIM application
Sharepoint (I don't even know how to classify Sharepoint, it does so many things)
A real-time communications server
A CRM product
An Internet-scale email service
An Internet-scale search engine
An Internet shopping site
An Internet music site
An instant-messaging application and Internet-scale service
A personal-finance application
A digital-photography application
Interactive television software
A game console
Software to run your cell phone
... and about 100 other products. Altogether supporting hundreds of millions of customers around the globe. The breadth and depth of what this company tries to build is stunning. It doesn't always succeed, and perhaps you could partly chalk that up to the Law of Large Numbers. You could also possibly argue that it's spread itself too thin; that's certainly a discussion that occurs frequently both inside and outside the company. But right or wrong, you have to admire the sheer guts and determination to take on building that much software.
My SPOT watch has more computing power than the Apollo lander had. And like Apple with the Mac, NASA had the advantage of controlling the hardware specification :-) Microsoft, by design, doesn't have that luxury. Sending a man to the moon was an incredibly ambitious, complex, technically sophisticated project. And so is building software in the 21st century, especially if you're building a LOT of it for a LOT of people. You could argue whether Windows alone is a fair comparison (it might still be), but the technical complexities are amazing -- just in different dimensions.
Bottom line: there's a fair comparison to be made here. Now let the real argument begin.
9:07:19 AM ; ;