May 2009

Rest in peace, "Frank" Borland

Turbo Pascal 7.0 for DOS boxEventually, after a long agony, Borland died. Actually, it was acquired by Micro Focus, and I do not believe the brand will survive. Especially now that all of its product portfolio is made up by product born elsewhere and acquired in the past few years. The products that made the Borland name were already sold in the past. When the development tools division was bought one year ago by Embarcadero, it was clear that the Borland saga was at the end. I just wish it happened while really fighting back, instead of the slow decay of the past years, when flagship products like Delphi were sacrified to a new "business model" that led to nowhere.

It is true, that at the end of the '80, when the Borland Barbarians looked unstoppable, so much they were so bold to take on Microsoft, something changed, and a long queue of mistakes began. The useless Ashton-Tate acquisition, the ill-fated alliance with WordPerfect to sell an office suite, the inability to understand user segments and manage their product portfolio - Paradox users were not TurboPascal/C++ users, OOP was too complex for the former, SideKick could have been turned into a PIM/messaging application but didn't -, and time/resources wasted in products like ObjectVision instead of pursuing Visual Basic RAD approach immediately. Perhaps Borland became already too much complacent, and like many other Microsoft competitors, undervalued Windows and kept on to invest too much resources in DOS products. Users switched to Windows (and the ready Microsoft applications) much faster than most Microsoft competitors did - Borland was not alone, Lotus and Wordperfect  made the same mistake - the few who understood in time, say Adobe, are still alive.

DCOM callbacks and "Simple file sharing"

In the past days I hit another DCOM issue: callbacks do not work if "Simple file sharing" is enabled (Settings → Control Panel → Folder Options → View). That's because the full name of that option is "Simple file sharing and ForceGuest". When enabled, Windows will ignore incoming calls credentials and will authenticate everybody as "guests". And of course a DCOM callback won't work properly this way unless permissions allow such kind of access (dangerous!).