I think we continue to disagree, Mike.  If we have a language like
Visual Basic that results in its own industry independent of the
originating company, even if the language is proprietary, we have
a standard.  There are literally hundreds of companies making reusable
components that work with Visual Basic.  These components all comply with
the standard of the language.  Likewise, there is a huge market for them.
This industry in reusable components would not exist without the standard
of the language.

A good example of such a non-Microsoft company is VB Extras:

Last semester, they started hiring my Visual Basic students about half
way through the semester.

A second element of the way Microsoft does business is its high level of
collaboration.  Visual Basic, for example, did not evolve based on Microsoft
alone.  The Microsoft Developer's Network, consisting of 10's of thousands
of people who pay money to subscribe to monthly releases of software, news,
and event/education information, all feed back to Microsoft problems,
for improvement, and so on.  While Microsoft has the final say, they still

If this is not a standard, then it's what a standard should be.  It's
actively used, and growing/changing to meet the needs of its users.

Richard Conn, Principal Investigator
Reuse Tapestry

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Feldman [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Friday, July 14, 2000 11:15 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Cc: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Leveraging MicroSoft's Marketing

[said Rick]
> I think it depends upon how you choose to use the term.
> There are ISO and IEEE standards.  There are industry standards.
> There are "defacto" standards.  There are organization standards.

True. We are arguing about which of several competing definitions
is the "correct" one. The most widely-used meaning of this term,
in and out of the computer industry, is something that is accepted
by a broadly representative industry sector, NOT just imposed by
a single company.

The most obvious non-computer example of this is the SAE standards
for nuts and bolts and similar hardware. SAE is Society for Automotive
Engineering. If all the automakers could not agree on a common set
of sizes and threading for nuts and bolts, the industry would
degenerate into complete chaos.

What makes the standard work is that a large number of companies, and
suppliers, agree on it. The standard is not owned, in a legal or practical
sense, by a single company.

(Of course now we have two competing standards, SAE and metric, but
that is another issue altogether.)

> When it comes to Microsoft languages, I can look in the MSDN Library
> and find the definitive references for their language standards.

Yes, of course, but that only strengthens my argument. These are
proprietary _Microsoft_ languages, implemented _only_ on proprietary
_Microsoft_ platforms. Windows this, Windows that. (You gave a whole
list of them, without a hint of irony!)

Unless Microsoft chooses to release its proprietary interest in these
things, they cannot be plausibly be adopted by the non-Microsoft world.
I don't see that happening very soon, do you?

It's natural for a single company to declare its proprietary products
to be a "standard", but that does not make them so. It's a marketeer's
distortion of the term. It's high time this industry accepted some
technical terminology as "standard" (no pun intended). They are
unlikely to do so; distortion is in their interest. But we can
be smart consumers and at least understand the distortion.

Rick, it's OK for you to like Microsoft. But please do not insult our
intelligence by insisting that its products are something they are
not. Popular, yes, Proprietary, yes. Good, maybe (a matter of opinion,
of course, as we have few objective measures). Standard, only in
Microsoft's distorted meaning. Rick, you're a technical guy. I'm
surprised at your willingness to buy into the distortion.

Mike Feldman