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Former Microsoft Exec: Microsoft Has "Become the Thing They Despised" 488

Posted by samzenpus
from the your-own-worst-enemy dept.
zacharye writes "Microsoft has a long and storied history of leadership in the tech industry, and the company has driven innovation for decades. In recent years, however, Microsoft has fallen behind the times in several key industries; the company's mobile position has deteriorated and left it with a low single-digit market share, and Microsoft won't launch Windows RT, its response to Apple's three-year-old iPad, until later this year. In a recent piece titled 'Microsoft’s Lost Decade,' Vanity Fair contributor Kurt Eichenwald analyzes the company’s 'astonishingly foolish management decisions' and picks apart moves made during the Steve Ballmer era."
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Former Microsoft Exec: Microsoft Has "Become the Thing They Despised"

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  • Drip, Drip, Drip (Score:4, Informative)

    by khakipuce (625944) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:13AM (#40562267) Homepage Journal

    Looks like Vanity Fair is going to drip feed us this stuff for a while... does it add anything we didn't already know?

  • Didn't Bill Gates once say. "When did we become IBM"?
    • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Insightful)

      by donscarletti (569232) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:37AM (#40562469)

      Remember back in the days that Windows didn't have basic operating system features like memory protection and used to crash thrice daily?

      Remember back in the days where using the latest version of IE would assure you that nothing but the most quirky IE only pages would render correctly?

      Remember back in the days where Apple had a usable GUI for half a decade and MS users were stuck on a really shitty command line?

      I do, it wasn't that long ago, pretty much it was the entire company's history before the "lost decade". But Windows doesn't crash so much any more since the later service packs of Windows 2000 and is fairly usable these days. It seems that Microsoft should have become IBM a long time ago.

      • Re:Nothing new (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jbolden (176878) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:46AM (#40562543) Homepage

        Think about the analogy. You are basically saying the stuff that OS/2 aimed to bring to PCs. Those were the days when the Microsoft/Western Digital/Intel standard crushed every other consumer & small business based system based on the cost / feature set ratio. I agreed with you at the time and used QEMM as my memory manager and Desqview to multitask but still owned Windows and was moving towards Windows applications. So yes that is what they mean. A dynamic company rapidly improving their products and challenging new markets. Windows for Workgroups may very well have been the worst Lan sold, but it was WfW that owned the small business space and made Lans ubiquitous.

        Now Microsoft is in a "shrink slowly but profitably" stage.

        • A couple of years ago I was quick to promote Linux over Windows due to higher reliability. Now I don't remember when was the last time that my Windows crashed but I've had numerous problems with Linux (On Ubuntu, last two times I allowed the package manager to make a major version update have broken the whole system. I then tried to install Mint, it crashed half a dozen times before I was finally able to get the whole installation through and then enabling two monitors broke X. I've had little interest to g

      • by Mr. Shotgun (832121) on Friday July 06, 2012 @09:29AM (#40563765)

        Remember back in the days that Windows didn't have basic operating system features like memory protection and used to crash thrice daily?

        Remember back in the days where using the latest version of IE would assure you that nothing but the most quirky IE only pages would render correctly?

        Remember back in the days where Apple had a usable GUI for half a decade and MS users were stuck on a really shitty command line?

        Pepperidge Farm remembers

      • by freeze128 (544774) on Friday July 06, 2012 @10:55AM (#40564871)
        Pepperidge Farm remembers....
  • Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by trewornan (608722) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:15AM (#40562281)

    Microsoft has a long and storied history of leadership in the tech industry, and the company has driven innovation for decades

    LMFAO

    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Serious Sandwich (2678177) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:18AM (#40562313)
      Yes. Microsoft Research [microsoft.com].
      • Re:Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by StripedCow (776465) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:31AM (#40562411)

        This is downmodded, but where for example do we find the website for "Apple Research"?

        • Re:Really? (Score:5, Funny)

          by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:34AM (#40562441)
          Apple Research [parc.com]
      • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Eponymous Coward (6097) on Friday July 06, 2012 @08:02AM (#40562641)

        Microsoft Research is the most depressing part of that whole company. There have so many great researchers and computer scientists working there and you hear very little from them. People who used to publish papers every year join up with MR and are never heard from again. It's a roach motel of computer scientists.

        • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Friday July 06, 2012 @08:32AM (#40562919) Journal

          I think Microsoft Research is basically a place where they can keep innovators out of the hands of their competitors, rather than research innovative new stuff that Microsoft will make - allowing Microsoft to rest on their Windows/Office laurels for longer.

          • Re:Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by IICV (652597) on Friday July 06, 2012 @10:27AM (#40564563)

            When I interned at Microsoft, I talked to some guys at MSR once for my project. They'd developed a dataset that was slightly better than current state of the art in the field. I distinctly remember saying "Oh that would be useful to have, are you going to publish the data?", to which they responded "Well you know, it's just data, takes a lot of effort to publish, who has the time?" while looking guilty.

            So yeah, MSR is a gilded cage for people who might otherwise be out there starting competitors, or publishing papers thatwould lead to competitors. It's really only in the tools and programming languages divisions that MS lets MSR's freak flag fly (the next version of the .net languages are going to natively support continuation passing style, for goodness sakes, and they're essentially releasing the C# parser as a library)

        • Re:Really? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 06, 2012 @08:57AM (#40563247)

          Microsoft Research is the most depressing part of that whole company. There have so many great researchers and computer scientists working there and you hear very little from them. People who used to publish papers every year join up with MR and are never heard from again. It's a roach motel of computer scientists.

          Obviously you do not track the academic conference and journals. Microsoft Research publishes a huge number of papers each year, dominating in many research areas. Here's a graph of their publication counts: http://academic.research.microsoft.com/Organization/20355/microsoft [microsoft.com]

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          MS researchers publish papers. The problem is, nothing they do ever seems to get transitioned into actual products.

    • by gatkinso (15975)

      I agree with the original comment. Only a fool would think otherwise.

      Not that I like Microsoft, but to dismiss their work simply out of predjudice is silly.

    • by Ynot_82 (1023749)

      Seat-based projectiles
      Hyperhidrosis enhanced clothing

      But somehow, still not as absurd as Apples slide-to-unlock "innovation"

  • They still have a commanding market share in many areas - it will be interesting to see if they can pull of the reinvention that Apple did.

    • by CrazyBusError (530694) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:31AM (#40562413) Homepage

      They still have a commanding market share in many areas...

      And that's the exact reason you're unlikely to see them reinvent themselves the way Apple did. Apple did it because they had no choice - they were getting their asses handed to them in every sector they were in, they were haemorrhaging money and were on the verge of bankruptcy. It was a do-or-die move.

      Microsoft have no need to copy them. They may not be raising the roof on the stock indexes, but they're still making money and because of that, inertia will mean that they'll never look at the kind of radical solutions that Apple did; it's easier to play the safe game and make smaller profits for less risk.

    • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:36AM (#40562453)

      In many ways Apple had it easier. The state they were in, the board was willing to try anything and Jobs had free reign to make major changes. If what Jobs did didn't work, there wasn't much loss.

      MS is still profitable and making major changes that affects their profitability will face resistance. MS needs new leadership and Ballmer is not likely to lead the reinvention. Over the last several years, it seems the leaders that were willing to change how MS did things have left: Ozzie, Allard, Bach. Everything must be Windows or Office has been a major problem to their innovation.

      • by jbolden (176878) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:54AM (#40562605) Homepage

        I don't know about that. Where Microsoft has really been dynamic this decade is at the enterprise level. For example Microsoft Dynamics (which I understand was an acquisition) ties very tightly to office. But accountants and sales people know office. CRM, ERP, Accounting... all tied together with an office interface relatively easy to configure/setup and use. That's rather impressive. Now tie that in with the enhancements to Sharepoint and Universal Communicator and you really have a fully formed office based total communication system. So they have been innovative on a windows / office paradigm.

        Their problem is in consumer / internet and to a certain extent not developing there was strategic. It bought them an entire extra decade of dominance. Now Balmer / Microsoft is fighting for consumer market share we'll see what they do. But I don't think its fair to say there has been a lack of innovation. Perhaps not innovations you are about though.

        • by microTodd (240390) on Friday July 06, 2012 @10:00AM (#40564175) Homepage Journal

          I think you make a great point but I think a lot of ./ers aren't going to pick up on what you are saying.

          I do all enterprise-level work. I'm talking organizations with petabytes of data and thousands of servers. And you know what? I'm seeing more and more Windows 2008R2 server. Linux got popular for a while when Solaris and big iron started to disappear, but now with VMs and the improved stability in Windows, people are more comfortable with hosting their apps on Windows instead, especially because .NET web apps are easier to write.

          So yeah, maybe Apple and even Linux are taking over the tablet/smartphone/consumer market. But MS pwns in the biz world.

          (this is kind of sad to me...back in the day I was a Unix/Linux admin and I remember when Unix ran the world, sendmail, bind/dns, etc. Ever since active directory came about it and Exchange seems to be replacing the lan/wan-level infrastructure. Backbones might still use unix though, I'm not really in touch with that level)

      • by sribe (304414) on Friday July 06, 2012 @08:36AM (#40562965)

        In many ways Apple had it easier. The state they were in, the board was willing to try anything and Jobs had free reign to make major changes.

        And why was the board so willing? Anybody remember their history?

        No, of course not, this is IT ;-) Everybody talks about the iMac as being what Steve Jobs did to start turning Apple around, but in reality it was secondary. The single most important thing Steve Jobs did was convince the Apple board of directors to resign so that he could replace them with a board of his choosing.

        Press and financial analysts at the time went nuts over this move, because clearly Jobs' ego was out of control, and now having padded the board with people who would not exercise adequate oversight, he was free to run the company into the ground...

        But a fact that was not known to most at the time, was that the prior board had long been convinced that Apple could not survive on its own. Many of the seemingly strange decisions by prior CEOs had been because the board was pushing them to position Apple for sale, thus instead of building the brand, they were pursuing short term strategies to pad the bottom line at any cost--including chipping away at their reputation for superior products.

  • That's nothing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@gmail. c o m> on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:20AM (#40562325) Journal

    Elop did to Nokia in a matter of months what Ballmer took over a decade to do to Microsoft.

  • The Problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:21AM (#40562333)

    Executives, Executives, EXECUTIVES

  • by captainpanic (1173915) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:24AM (#40562357)

    That's the problem with management with KPIs: they have to report results every 3 months. Cutting some long term projects looks great in the beginning: less overhead and fewer costs, and if you move your researchers to production, you even get a bigger income.

    The damage only becomes visible 2-5 years later. And then it's too late.

    Too bad the whole world is focussed on those dan

  • Former exec (Score:4, Insightful)

    by js3 (319268) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:29AM (#40562391)

    A former exec disgruntled with his previous company? you don't say...

    • Re:Former exec (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xest (935314) on Friday July 06, 2012 @08:06AM (#40562673)

      I left an employer once because it was shit and was disgruntled with it as my previous company.

      But just because I was disgruntled with it, doesn't mean it wasn't shit.

      It's bankrupt now.

      Sometimes ex-employees are exactly the people you should be listening to, sometimes, they're ex-employees by their own choosing and for good reason.

      • Re:Former exec (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jim Hall (2985) on Friday July 06, 2012 @10:15AM (#40564405) Homepage

        Been there. In 1995 or 1996, I was working in my first job, as a systems administrator for a small geographics company. Our main business was in generating custom maps for large businesses that needed to visualize the geophysical data for a certain area. For example, one typical customer was a large local bank that needed us to generate custom maps to show all the residential addresses they loaned money to in the metro area over the previous year, so they could show there was no discrimination in who they loaned to.

        Back to the point: we could make custom maps. One day, my supervisor and I were talking about "The Web" and all the cool things you could find there. We had the great idea to use "The Web" to advertise our business. So we pitched an idea to our vice president: Let's set up a server that lets people type in their address in a "Web Browser", then we can pass that to our mapping system and create a simple "line drawing" map of their immediate area. Just stuff our server could complete in about 5 seconds or so. We figured the "Web Page" could also tell the visitor about the other things we do. Basically, give away a few small maps in exchange for getting more customers for our big stuff.

        The vice president considered, then rejected the idea, saying that free maps on the Internet wasn't our business.

        Only a year later, companies like MapQuest arrived on the scene, offering free maps supported by advertising. It was the start of a new business model. I don't want to say that our little company could have become MapQuest ... but yeah, we really could have. I'll note that the first versions of these mapping "Web Sites" provided little more than a line-drawing of a location, and a route to get from point A to point B.

        I believe that company went out of business a few years after I left. Surprisingly, they weren't able to adapt to this new model where people could get free maps on the Internet.

    • by oakgrove (845019)
      Not that it matters around here obviously (+4 Insightful?) but attacking the man rather than the argument usually tends to lose you credibility.
  • Courier Tablet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aapold (753705) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:31AM (#40562407) Homepage Journal
    That thing was way ahead of its time. But Gates and Balmer killed it. and now Allard is off doing something else...
    • Re:Courier Tablet (Score:4, Interesting)

      by oakgrove (845019) on Friday July 06, 2012 @08:13AM (#40562755)
      "Courier" was an idea that made it as far as a CGI drawing. That's as far as it can verifiably be proven to ever exist. Calling that "innovation" is like calling warp drive innovation.
    • by jpstanle (1604059)

      The Courier was seriously deep into "Shut up and take my money!" territory. Even if it was just a concept, the technology existed to make it happen. They could have named their own price and made Apple-style mountains of cash. Even now, there still isn't even anything on the horizon that is really comparable to what the Courier proposed to be.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:42AM (#40562507) Journal
    The article is way off base. The most fundamental reason for their success is not anything they have done or not done. It is the whole corporate sector conflating "Microsoft compatibility" with "interoperability". Otherwise they have always been the same. Lackluster products and copying/buying innovation done elsewhere has been its mainstay. The low quality of its products was masked by the ever increasing speed and decreasing cost of hardware. Their monopoly masked the incompetence of their managers. All that is happening now is people inside and outside Microsoft, waking up and smelling the coffee.
  • by macraig (621737) <`mark.a.craig' `at' `gmail.com'> on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:43AM (#40562509)

    Microsoft Has "Become the Thing They Despised"

    That's funny... for me it's just more despicable now than it was way back when. I guess my despicableness threshold is lower than Eichenwald's and Ballmer's?

    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      That's weird, for me it's the complete opposite. I used to despise them, now I just find them an annoyance and laugh at their patheticness. Whereas Apple I used to find amusing, but they're rising quickly on my "despicableness meter". Google's starting to really get on my nerves too, though for different reasons (Gmail UI suddenly became butt-ugly, and other things like Google Maps seem like they don't work as well as they used to).

    • Microsoft held the #1 spot on my list of Corporate Evil for years. Apple displaced them for a time for their success in promoting locked-down hardware tied to a walled-garden content service. Then MS came up with 'secure boot,' an obviously anticompetetative attempt to destroy linux on the desktop under the excuse of security, which easily put them back into first place.
  • by Notlupus (1893060) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:45AM (#40562537)
    Why are we even having this discussion about what Microsoft innovated and which company is the best innovator, because frankly none off them innovate anymore. The easiest and most effective way to become the biggest player is to bully everyone else with patent lawsuits. Microsoft, Apple and Google are all exactly the same when it comes to employing dodgy business tactics.
  • s/driven/killed/ (Score:5, Insightful)

    by McDutchie (151611) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:48AM (#40562559) Homepage

    and the company has driven innovation for decades

    Uh... geez. Where to even start?

    The first and last real MS innovation was the Microsoft BASIC interpreter which became ubiquitous in 1980s home computers. Everything else they ever did was shamelessly stolen and/or bought and/or badly copied from others. Even MS-DOS started out as a bought-out CP/M imitation.

    They disparaged GUIs and the whole idea of user-friendly computing until the Mac proved them wrong. It took them a decade to come up with a usable competitor (Windows 95). Then it took them years to recognize the importance of the Internet, so they killed the competition by illegally leveraging their monopoly on Windows desktops. With the competition dead, they stalled IE development and set back web innovation by a decade until Firefox broke the market back open.

    Now you can see them screw up the same way with mobile devices. It took even Bill Gates until last week to admit that the PC-centric model may be "changing". Thankfully, with Gates gone and that dancing sweatmonkey in charge, they don't seem to be capable of their past level of predation anymore.

    MS has always been a follower at best. It has frequently been a predatory abuser of its monopoly. It has usually parasitized on the innovations of others. Embrace, extend, extinguish was always how they operated. It has never been an innovation leader.

    • by v1 (525388)

      The first and last real MS innovation was the Microsoft BASIC interpreter which became ubiquitous in 1980s home computers. Everything else they ever did was shamelessly stolen and/or bought and/or badly copied from others.

      Woz must have been abusing that time machine of his, to have copied microsoft's 1980 "innovation" in 1978 with his AppleSoft BASIC: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Applesoft_BASIC [wikipedia.org]

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Friday July 06, 2012 @08:38AM (#40562975) Homepage Journal
    They've always been the thing I despised, so I guess now we're on the same page!

    Some of you might think my hatred is baseless, but that's really not the case. Had the industry decided to run with any of a number of other technologies, we'd have got to incrementally larger platforms (16 bit, 32 bit, 64 bit,) preemptive multitasking and a flat memory model and much more secure systems a decade faster than we did with Microsoft and Intel. Admittedly, the failure of those systems to dominate was as much the fault of the inept management of the owners of those technologies as it was Microsoft's abuse of the monopoly position afforded them by IBM at the time.

    I also don't let my hatred of them blind me to the improvements they've made in the last 10 years, though I wonder how much of that would have happened had Linux not been nipping at their heels. We have no way of knowing if the future would have been any different had one of the workstation players of the day had come out on top instead of Microsoft. They traditionally had a habit of doing just enough and then resting on their laurels and not expecting the industry to continue advancing. History is littered with the bodies of companies and product development teams that did that. The main thing I'll credit Microsoft with is they had the vision to realize that one day nearly everyone would have a PC in their home, at a time when the UNIX guys were laughing at PC and calling them toys.

    Now that this vision has been realized, I wonder if a Microsoft under Ballmer has the vision to make the next jump. They're already playing catch-up from a woefully-behind position in the mobile market, but it's not the first time they've come late to a party and done all-right for themselves. I don't think they have the foresight to set their target to whatever lies beyond that point, but I can't predict what that thing will be either. One thing I do know all too well is that history is littered with the bodies of companies that were not quick on their feet or flexible enough to adapt to changing situations fast enough, and that some of those companies (Sun) were quite big. I won't shed a tear if Microsoft becomes one of those also-rans in the next decade or two, but I won't dance on their grave, either. For better or worse they had their time and I think their impact on my profession will end up having been a wash.

  • by Tanuki64 (989726) on Friday July 06, 2012 @08:59AM (#40563271)

    "Microsoft has a long and storied history of leadership in the tech industry, and the company has driven innovation for decades.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Friday July 06, 2012 @09:35AM (#40563867) Journal
    One of the most interesting experiments Skinner did with pigeons, is the random reward experiment. Instead of trying the teach the pigeons to peck at red dot or blue dot or ring a bell, he simply randomly rewarded them with food. What the pigeons did was remarkable. They all developed superstitions. One would walk clockwise, and another would cower in a corner, another would lean to the left and yet another would stretch its neck. These pigeons all sincerely believed it is their action that made the food appear magically!

    Some time in the 1980s the corporations realized the efficiencies of using office computers. But it was an esoteric and complex device and it required lots of training to use, and the top managers did not fully understand how easy/difficult it would be. I have seen highly intelligent relatives of mine who were totally flummoxed by the PC. So they were desperately looking for ways to reduce training costs and to get some kind of predictability. They wanted interoperability and portable skills for their work force. They picked on Microsoft as the common thing. Once enough corporations picked Microsoft, probably because of strong recommendations by IBM and its association with IBM, Microsoft became the de-facto monopoly. Food will appear magically. Not at random but at predictable intervels in a torrent.

    Microsoft managers, like the pigeons in the random reward Skinner's box, started believing it is their action that had resulted in this huge torrent of cash. This torrent cash masked the incompetence of managers, the mediocrity of the products, the lack of innovation, the corrosive work culture, abusive customer relations, etc etc.

    • by RogerWilco (99615)

      You are partially right.

      Microsoft became big when they could sell DOS to the clones, especially Compaq. They got in the door because of the price of a clone-PC. The magic was in "IBM compatible".

      The next part is that I think most software environments tend to gravitate towards a monopoly. As soon as MS had established their first one, they then used some very aggressive moves to expand, their history in the eighties and nineties is one of lost lawsuits. What they used is that the judicial system is just muc

  • by Toreo asesino (951231) on Friday July 06, 2012 @09:55AM (#40564109) Journal

    This opinion will be about as popular as a kick in the teeth here I know, but I don't care either way, sometimes you have to go against the group-think....

    -Windows Servers are coming into it's own; WinServer 2012 is getting some rave reviews for the new virtualization stuff especially, and it's not even out yet. SQL Server is going from strength-to-strength, not to mention the bizapps servers (SharePoint, Exchange, Lync) have never sold so many ever more than now.
    -Windows in general is finally becoming consumer & tablet friendly, some even say at the expense of the power-users, but it'll ultimately broaden it's appeal to grandmas & Joe Sixpack's alike. Metro, love it or hate it, is what grandma wants; simple, shiny, easy to use. This of course is not what everyone wants but there's always the classic UI too - which leads me to my next point....
    -Product integration/commonality across a huge range of hardware; the same code & UI works on XBox, WinPhone, Windows tablet (RT), and Windows normal. Windows phone 8 will level out the platform field even further and expect this to be something that improves continually, meaning even more ROI on code over time.
    -Office365 is a great product; small business in particular love it as they don't have to run IT anymore (and shouldn't have to) and they get access to enterprise-scale services like Exchange for a mere pitance every month.
    -SkyDrive is also taking off; I never thought I'd see the day when Google released an inferior competing product that had less space than the MS offering.
    -Finally, finally MS aren't leaving to OEMs to actually give Apple a run for their money. Apple have great toys they spend a lot of time engineering them to be "just right" and have sold bucket-loads of devices because of it. Yes this might wind up the OEMs but this is the kick up the ass they needed, and the Surface should be it.
    -XBox is still selling loads even being years old now. It's also proof MS can enter consumer markets if the product's done right.

    Not everything's perfect of course; there are plenty of risks as slashdotters like pointing out; Win8 is still an unknown to some extent, Apple are hammering MS on all fronts right now for the consumer space, but there's plenty of action & big descisions going on that I think might just work. On the cloud side Amazon are hammering MS too, but it's all to play for still.

    But these are exciting times; competition is a good & needed thing, and so far at least on the consumer side, Apple is quickly becoming the dominant player in this space - let's hope they don't go unanswered. Microsoft are as far as I see willing to stake big bets on some big changes, and that's why I'm excited to see how this all plays out - I think it might just work, personally. Never before has IT been such a competitive & interesting place to be in.

    OK, I've accidently said a positive thing about Microsoft. Forgive me slashdot; you may flame away.

  • by scamper_22 (1073470) on Friday July 06, 2012 @09:58AM (#40564151)

    It seems so much of the article can be summed by a very simple business statement.

    "Give the customer what they want"

    (yes... sometimes the customer themselves doesn't know what they want until you give it to them)

    Microsoft's early success was all about giving the customer what they wanted. Windows 95 gave people a GUI with DOS with pretty low requirements. I remember trying to toss on some Linux distros on older hardware... and none performed as well Windows 95. Now yes, Windows 95 made a lot of sacrifices to make it speedy... but it was what the customer wanted. Office scripting/VBS are along the same lines, but it worked.

    Microsoft's lost decade I think is kind of unique... in that they forgot about this. They began focusing on things outside of providing for the customer. Some of it actually needed from a technical standpoint (gutting/rewriting legacy stuff). But much of it not.

    For Vista, where was the demand for a database file system? They also focused too much on making things work with Windows or giving them a Windows feel. All things customers really don't care about. The initial windows smart phones complete with start menu... seems so silly now.

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