7 may be immensely popular, but not everyone is impressed with
Microsoft's performance. Just days after Microsoft took
10 percent of the market with Windows 7 in only 4 months --
a feat that took Windows Vista 16 months to accomplish -- a former
Microsoft vice president, Dick Brass, delivered a scathing review on
the company's lack of "creative spark" which
he published in The
New York Times.He
company’s chief executive, Steve Ballmer, has continued to deliver
huge profits. They totaled well over $100 billion in the past 10
years alone and help sustain the economies of Seattle, Washington
State and the nation as a whole.... And yet it is failing, even as it
reports record earnings. As the fellow who tried (and largely failed)
to make tablet PCs and e-books happen at Microsoft a decade ago, I
could say this is because the company placed too much faith in people
like me. But the decline is so broad and so striking that it would be
presumptuous of me to take responsibility for it.
has become a clumsy, uncompetitive innovator. Its products are
lampooned, often unfairly but sometimes with good reason. Its image
has never recovered from the antitrust prosecution of the 1990s. Its
marketing has been inept for years; remember the 2008 ad in which
Bill Gates was somehow persuaded to literally wiggle his behind at
Brass was already a millionaire when he first came to work at
Microsoft, hailing from Oracle Corp. and being one of the first
investors in tremendously successful wireless company Omnipoint.
At Oracle, Mr. Brass had worked as a speech writer for the at times
contentious chairman Lawrence Ellison. Before that he had
worked as a New
York Daily News
reporter.At Microsoft -- between 1997 and 2004 – Mr. Brass
led a team of almost 100 designers and tried to flesh out a tablet
PC/electronic book reader device. Ultimately Microsoft
failed to advance in the arena and it wasn't until 2007 that a
successful e-book reader hit the market (the Amazon Kindle); and now
Apple is hoping that its iPad will being tablets to an even wider
audience.Mr. Brass touches on that device in the entry point
of his op-ed entitled "Microsoft’s Creative Destruction".
In the beginning, he provokes, "As they marvel at Apple’s new
iPad tablet computer, the technorati seem to be focusing on where
this leaves Amazon’s popular e-book business. But the much more
important question is why Microsoft, America’s most famous and
prosperous technology company, no longer brings us the future,
whether it’s tablet computers like the iPad, e-books like Amazon’s
Kindle, smartphones like the BlackBerry and iPhone, search engines
like Google, digital music systems like iPod and iTunes or popular
Web services like Facebook and Twitter."Maligning
Microsoft, while building up Google, Amazon, RIM, and Apple seems
like a tired old wheel, but Mr. Brass does hit on some of Microsoft
biggest weaknesses. He comments, "While Apple continues to
gain market share in many products, Microsoft has lost share in Web
browsers, high-end laptops and smartphones.
Despite billions in investment, its Xbox line is still at best an
equal contender in the game console business. It first ignored and
then stumbled in personal music players until that business was
locked up by Apple."He says that much of Microsoft's
problems have been the result of "internecine warfare" --
backstabbing between Microsoft's divisions. He relates stories
about how Microsoft group leaders blocked the adoption of ClearType
and how his own tablet project was damaged when the head of the
Office group refused to modify the software to work efficiently on
tablet (because he "preferred keyboards to pens and thought our
efforts doomed", writes Mr. Brass).But he also says
Microsoft is now so big that it becomes difficult to take the risks
necessary to produce truly innovative hardware.Amid the
criticism, Mr. Brass also delivers praise for the company's
accomplishments. He writes "More than any other firm, it
made using computers both ubiquitous and affordable" and "Its
founder, Bill Gates, is not only the most generous philanthropist in
history, but has also inspired thousands of his employees to give
generously themselves. No one in his right mind should wish Microsoft
failure."The former VP insists that the iPad, iPhone,
Blackberries, Kindles, and their ilk representative Microsoft's
doom. If Microsoft doesn't turn the ship around creatively, he
concludes, its headed for a decline into mediocrity, shrinkage, and
obscurity. Whether or not such claims are true,
they certainly provoke an interesting discussion. Mr. Brass
does overlook some of Microsoft's recent innovations and successes --
beta test program for Windows 7. And he tends to look
at the glass half empty in some cases (Bing, Xbox 360). And
yet, despite these oversights, it's hard to dismiss entirely the
concerns of someone with such deep knowledge of the company and who
obviously still cares about it.
quote: Games consoles (after seeing Sony's meteoric rise to success)
quote: Microsoft isn't innovating.
quote: I'm the opposite, I think MS should get OUT of all of the other business and focus on what they do very, very well. Software. Make Windows and Office. Make Communication Server even, make the products they are known for. Stay out of the Ad business (Bing) even though they seem to do a great job in their search. Stop trying to make hardware devices. Part of me would love to see a full Microsoft computer that they design from the ground up, just to compare with Apple, but the truth is that is not where MS' strength lies. Make Windows better. Spin off another company for Zune, another company for Bing, another company for Mobile. MS can always own 51% of its stock even. But let MS focus on Windows and Office.
quote: With all due respect, you're missing some of the picture here. Xbox wasn't just a money-making side venture for MS.
quote: Every game that gets developed for Xbox, gets developed for DirectX. Indirectly, that helps ensure Windows dominance.
quote: Project Natal is vaporware until further notice
quote: Even Windows 7 which is actually Windows 6.1
quote: They packed Windows XP in a fancy box, called it Vista, told us to keep buying it...
quote: Amazingly, people continue to spend money on something that should be free..
quote: No, Windows 7 is Windows 7. It is NT version 6.1. There is a difference.
quote: Windows Vista was not a "fancy" version of Windows XP. I doubt that you even used it for an extended period of time to say something like that.
quote: Ah, your comment bleeds Linux blood. That's unrelated to this conversation (aka trolling) but I will just say that I had no qualms paying for my Windows 7 license.
quote: It doesn't matter -- Linux or not Linux. It should be free. You read news -- you don't pay for it. You search for something -- you don't pay for it. You watch video on YouTube -- you don't pay for it. Others do on your belalf. Operating system should be no different. Pay for the media it's shipped on? Sure. But no more.
quote: You're right. No one ever buys a subscription to a newspaper, magazine, or paid online content. No one ever pays indirectly for news by watching the ads that pay to support it.Idiot.
quote: Are you intentionally trying to embarrass yourself? Whether Vista was good or bad, it was VERY different from XP. Several million man-hours of development went into it, and in fact nearly all the complaints about Vista was that it was TOO different from XP, in ways that annoyed many users.
quote: Vista introduced a new driver model, a new security model, a new GUI, a new level of DirectX, new 2D acceleration (something XP never had in any form), and a thousand other new things. Was Vista better? That's an opinion. Was it NEW, though? Unquestionably.
quote: In fact, why the hell am I even being stupid enough to reply to someone who obviously hasn't got two functioning grey cells to rub together. It's obviously a waste of time. quote: Indeed, why are you being stupid?Anyways, enjoy the oncoming rugby game!
quote: Indeed, why are you being stupid?Anyways, enjoy the oncoming rugby game!
quote: But you are right in pointing out that Sony doesn't use DirectX.
quote: But you are right in pointing out that Sony doesn't use DirectX
quote: I don't see bias. In fact I think most of his observations are bang on. Microsoft isn't innovating. It doesn't take a genius to see that. They are not bringing the future to us anymore. They are lagacy, it's hard to argue against that point now.
quote: They play catch up and don't do very well at it (Search, Zune, Xbox, Web 2.0). In other areas besides OS, and Office they are super vulnerable. Windows Mobile is a striking example of a once strong MS market now completely on the run in no time flat.
quote: Last worked for Microsoft 6 years ago? His input on any current product that Microsoft releases is rather irrelevant now.
quote: You're either really clueless about running a business, or intentionally missing the point in order to defend Microsoft.
quote: The root cause isn't the product development cycle and such; its how the business is structured and the BS internal politics.
quote: And the part about failing? There's no denying that some of MS's areas are pretty weak or weakening. Just look at these numbers for web browser usage. => http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_br...
quote: Making lots of money on a core product (Windows licenses) and not really succeeding in other areas is not a good sign.
quote: Remember; empires fall, marketshare is dynamic, and resolving yourself (internal issues) will lead to greater success. Its up to MS to see that...If they see that.
quote: The software giant has been a hindrance to progress ever since it transformed from a subversive company to a kind of IBM-clone to a lackey for big business. There's no connection between the company and the end-user anymore.
quote: I thought they cynically followed trends, bought what they needed by acquiring other, creative, firms, and then bought the rest and shut it down to quell competition...