It is always difficult when you are working on something new at Microsoft.  They company is so big, it can choose to cancel projects that it has invested millions in, and never even flinch.  So when you are developing a product you are never quite certain of the ground you are standing on.   On the other hand, the bankroll here is so big, we can afford to staff huge development teams that build products that we basically give away.   For example, the latest VS2005 beta 1 that is soon to be available to early adopters is chock full of 'Express' units, that are individually packaged language components that are free.  Did you hear me right?  Free!

Of course, the act of packaging 'free' products inside larger 'paid' products has gotten us in to a bit of hot water in the past, so we've come up with ingenious new ways to disguise our dastardly deeds.  We take the same amount money, the same number of people, the same time line we would have dedicated to building a free product, and we apply it to a product that we don't actually give away.  That is, we don't give it away, we let someone else do it.

You might be thinking, that's a really stupid idea.  The customers will see right through that ploy.  That's just Microsoft XXX being 'sold' by MiniSquid.  Of course, we are more crafty than you'd ever imagine.  I'm not talking about some sidekick add-on accessory being 'supplied' by a unknown vendor.  I'm talking about the main attraction, the real deal being 'supplied' by one of the industry leaders. 

You don't think Microsoft can pull it off?  Who would work with us on that scale? 

Did you see the Apple OS X Tiger announcement?  See, we are giving away Longhorn already!

But I digress

Matt