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How Infighting Hampers Innovation At Microsoft 450

Posted by timothy
from the rather-a-broad-brush dept.
Garabito writes "Dick Brass, former vice-president at Microsoft, published an op-ed in The New York Times, where he states that 'Microsoft has become a clumsy, uncompetitive innovator' and how 'it has lost share in Web browsers, high-end laptops and smartphones.' He attributes this situation to the lack of a true system for innovation at Microsoft. Some former employees argue that Microsoft has a system to thwart innovation. He tells how promising and innovative technologies like ClearType and the original TabletPC concept become crippled and sabotaged internally, by groups and divisions that felt threatened by them."
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How Infighting Hampers Innovation At Microsoft

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  • by argent (18001) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Thursday February 04, 2010 @06:44PM (#31028134) Homepage Journal

    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.

    "no longer"?

    When was Microsoft any different?

    OK, they had a good compiler and toolchain in the '70s, but actual innovation has never been their forte. Microsoft Research has been doing interesting stuff in the past decade or so, but that's more a sign of *increasing* innovation at Microsoft, if anything.

  • by argent (18001) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Thursday February 04, 2010 @06:49PM (#31028210) Homepage Journal

    Tablet PC might have become a great product, over the long term, but when it was released NT was far too heavy-weight a product to base it on. Unfortunately the Tablet PC had management's ear, and the more practical (for the time) Pocket PC and Handheld PC lines based on their existing mobile operating system got largely squashed and forced into a secondary role. They could have had something more like the iPad, based on Windows CE, for a more affordable price... with applications targeted for the handheld environment. Instead they got the overpriced Tablet PC.

    Why didn't management just let both products proceed as best they could? Because they were trying to PREVENT internal competition.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 04, 2010 @06:54PM (#31028252)

    Ah, but the question isn't "innovates" but "brings us the future". And it's pretty hard to argue against the fact that Microsoft was the one who shipped a GUI to the most people, and fostered (for better or worse) a relatively open hardware market that allowed the lowest bidder to deliver our PCs.

  • I'd partly agree ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JustNiz (692889) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @06:59PM (#31028298)

    >> "Microsoft has become a clumsy, uncompetitive innovator"

    I'd agree with clumsy and uncompetitve, but innovator? lol. Sorry no.

    Microsoft hasn't innovated anything truly new in decades, except maybe the marketing dept changing a few colour schemes or finding new ways to screw customers.

    In fact can anyone think of anything technically innovative that Microsoft ever put their name on, that wasn't originally bought, copied, 'embraced', assimilated, or blatantly stolen from some other company? I can't.

  • Re:news flash (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:02PM (#31028332) Journal
    I worked at Telus (Canadian based Telco) for a while and I can safely say that they foster creativity and innovation. It's actually in their motto type creedo thing, which they bash you over the head with during training. Anyways, every 2 weeks during a regular team meeting they would constantly ask for criticism or feedback of the system, any improvements to be made or new ideas to be tested. Even my short summer as a 411 operator showed that they took suggestions and applied them regularily. For example, when looking through directories that deal with Taxi Agencies, sometimes a number will pop up that isn't the actual line for the taxi cabs, but actually the corporate office. Since you don't want to give them the wrong number listings will sometimes have notes attached. Seemingly ridiculous in hindsight, the notes are only ever surrounded in !!'s or **'s and have no other differentiation. One of my co-workers suggest we use a different font colour for notes. This suggestion was taken up and implemented within the month, much to everyone's delight.
  • Gradual Decay (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Greg Hullender (621024) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:03PM (#31028340) Homepage Journal
    For a long time, Microsoft avoided the sort of sclerosis that seemed to affect big companies like IBM, AT&T, and Xerox. People attributed it to things like Microsoft's amazing decentralization of responsibility (in which each VP operates much like the CEO of his or her own startup) to the "Program Manager" role that separated the job of collecting requirements from the job of progamming them. But over the last decade, things seem to have gradually frozen up.

    I was at Microsoft at the same time Dick Brass was (and even reported into his organization for a while), so I'm going to beat up on him a little. (He won't mind.) We really wanted Tablet PC to be viable without a keyboard because it made such a difference in weight and size. There are a number of problems with operating such a device that way, but simply logging into it was a bear. Virtual keyboard and handwriting recognition solutions were both miserable, so we looked at biometrics. Now for a Tablet PC, the obvious biometric is signature verification, but one powerful individual in Dick Brass's organization had such a passion for fingerprint verification, that he effectively stopped us from even evaluating signature verification systems. Never mind that the fingerprint systems were extra hardware, stuck out the side, were easy to break off, etc. -- this individual was impervious to reason. Dick could have broken the logjam, but wouldn't get involved. Ultimately, we did nothing, and no serious keyboardless Tablet PCs were ever made (that I know of). This wasn't the only reason, but it was enough by itself.

    This pair of problems -- the non-technical guy who kills ideas and can't be reasoned with plus upper management that can't get involved -- seems to have become depressingly common across the whole company. Bright people get discouraged and leave. People who thrive on stifling other people stay.

    Where I do disagree with Dick is that I think a VP still has enough autonomy to make his/her own org successful. Microsoft's top management could still fix this problem if it consistently focused on getting and keeping the right VPs and eliminating the bad ones. I think the problem and the solution start and end in the same place.

    --Greg

  • Re:news flash (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jollyreaper (513215) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:05PM (#31028362)

    Large institutions hamper creativity, innovation...

    The same thing was going on at Apple before the Return of Jobs. The road to OSX was bumpy.

    [quote]Meanwhile, Apple was facing commercial difficulties of its own. The decade-old Mac OS had reached the limits of its single-user, co-operative multitasking architecture, and its once-innovative user interface was looking increasingly dated. A massive development effort to replace it, known as Copland, was started in 1994, but was generally perceived outside of Apple to be a hopeless case due to political infighting. By 1996, Copland was nowhere near ready for release, and the project was eventually cancelled. Some elements of Copland were incorporated into Mac OS 8, released on July 26, 1997.
    After considering the purchase of BeOS -- a multimedia-enabled, multi-tasking OS designed for hardware similar to Apple's -- the company decided instead to acquire NeXT and use OPENSTEP as the basis for their new OS. Avie Tevanian took over OS development, and Steve Jobs was brought on as a consultant. At first, the plan was to develop a new operating system based almost entirely on an updated version of OPENSTEP, with an emulator -- known as the Blue Box -- for running "classic" Macintosh applications. The result was known by the code name Rhapsody, slated for release in late 1998.
    Apple expected that developers would port their software to the considerably more powerful OPENSTEP libraries once they learned of its power and flexibility. Instead, several major developers such as Adobe told Apple that this would never occur, and that they would rather leave the platform entirely. This "rejection" of Apple's plan was largely the result of a string of previous broken promises from Apple; after watching one "next OS" after another disappear and Apple's market share dwindle, developers were not interested in doing much work on the platform at all, let alone a re-write.

    Apple's financial losses continued and the board of directors lost confidence in CEO Gil Amelio. The board of directors asked him to resign. The board convinced Steve Jobs to lead the company on an interim basis. Jobs was, in essence, given carte blanche by Apple's board of directors to make changes in order to return the company to profitability. When Jobs announced at the World Wide Developer's Conference that what developers really wanted was a modern version of the Mac OS, and Apple was going to deliver it[citation needed], he was met with thunderous applause. [/quote]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Mac_OS_X [wikipedia.org]

    TFA's description of the infighting within Microsoft matches the details behind what I pasted above.

  • by astrashe (7452) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:10PM (#31028428) Journal

    The OpEd basically says that people inside the company screw each other over.

    That's always the way they seemed to me from the outside -- there was this sort of thug culture there in the 90's, when they'd threaten to cut some company's air supply if they didn't buckle under, etc. I mean, they just came across as obnoxious bullies. And it turns out that's what it's like on the inside.

    If they would just start dealing with everyone in good faith, it would do them a lot of good. Gates is a close friend of Warren Buffet, and Buffet knows the value of straight shooting as well as any business leader in the US. Microsoft should emulate Buffet on that point. You really can do well by doing good.

    But just to take a recent example, that business with selling patents off to a troll company that would use them to harass Linux users leaves a bad taste in people's mouths. It makes you want to use someone else's products if there's anyway you can.

    It must be a pretty depressing place to work.

  • by manekineko2 (1052430) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:11PM (#31028436)

    I'm not so sure you're right that they should have put a lot of effort into something WinCE based for a tablet.

    Witness the response even the vaunted Apple received to its iPad. It's being widely criticized as being an over-sized iPod Touch. Will it be a huge success? If it were from any other company than Apple, I'd say no way. Even coming from Apple though, even if it succeeds, there's clearly a significant number of people out there looking for a full computer experience that's usable with touch or pen input.

    I actually got one not too long after they first came out, and it was a decent computer. It wasn't being hampered by processing power, running XP, but rather just the general quality of their tablet interactions, like the guy said. It really did feel like Office support was shoehorned in, which at the time I couldn't understand, but now makes more sense.

    His criticism actually strikes me as very apt, looking at Microsoft's often dysfunctionally bad product launches.

    Is there even an argument as to why their much-neglected Windows Home Server line should not be integrated with Windows Media Center? You've already got a box with a gigaton of storage in a box that's supposed to be left on at all times. And you're supposed to get a second PC to run Windows Media Center to DVR television programs? How many servers does Microsoft think each family wants in their house? Hint, the answer is that even one is pushing it. They control all elements of the software chain, yet the integration between WHS and Windows clients still leaves a ton to be desired. It feels like something that a 3rd party hacked together and released, not at all like Apple's all cylinders firing together smoothness.

    Or in another area, where is the total lack of integration between their Xbox division and all other divisions? People have been clamoring for some type of connectivity between Windows Mobile and their Xbox for ages, and they're just now getting around to doing it.

    His criticisms sound pretty plausible to me. For a company with its mitts in as many related fields as Microsoft is, the lack of cohesiveness between product divisions is striking.

  • Re:Gradual Decay (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Greg Hullender (621024) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:23PM (#31028540) Homepage Journal

    Personally I wouldn't be able to use signature verification because my signature is so inconsistent. . . .

    You'd be surprised how many people say that, and yet when the software gets to see their dynamic signature (as points in time, not just an image), it easily finds the things that make their signature unique and clearly distinguishes it from anyone else's. Or so it appeared, anyway. As I said, we never really got to do a proper evaluation, but we did do enough to determine that a lot of our intuitions about the problem were simply wrong.

    --Greg

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:35PM (#31028700) Journal

    I don't recall their compilers and tools ever being more than mediocre.

    Are you talking about C & C++, or dev tools in general. If the latter, would you also consider C# (language design), VC# (the actual compiler), and CLR mediocre?

    Also, what would be your base for comparison? For C/C++ - GCC? Intel compiler? If we're talking about .NET - Java? ObjC/Cocoa?

  • Re:news flash (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:36PM (#31028710)
    The difference is, Microsoft's monopoly leads to its downfall. Mac OS had a small marketshare, it was and is pretty easy to change some pretty radical things without much problems. Not the same thing with an OS with 90%+ of marketshare.
  • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:46PM (#31028842)

    Witness the response even the vaunted Apple received to its iPad. It's being widely criticized as being an over-sized iPod Touch. Will it be a huge success? If it were from any other company than Apple, I'd say no way.

    I think this is correct and pretty key. Apple is in a position right now where any consumer electronic device they create has a buzz about it and draws interest regardless of how good it is or if they've even admitted it exists yet. If a Microsoft (or a no-name company) had released a product identical to the iPhone in Apple's place, I'm sure it wouldn't be a complete bust but it wouldn't have had the same kind of frothy early adoption.

    I'm curious to see how long they can keep it going.

  • Re:news flash (Score:5, Interesting)

    by citylivin (1250770) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:20PM (#31029148)

    Innovation at telus? LOL

    Telus is pretty much regarded as the worst telecom company in BC. What have they innovated exactly? Switching their network from GSM to 3G to play catchup with rogers and fido? Or maybe its their innovative use of customer service staff and technicians who are more concerned that you are connected to the wrong department, instead of actually dealing with your problem. Perhaps its their innovative use of limiting your ability to buy services or support because your specific rep has taken a 5 week holiday?

    They certainly innovate into auto enrolling you into $$$ telus branded cisco support contracts, which are EXACTLY the same contract provided direct by cisco, but you have to deal with brain dead man in the middle telus employees instead of the real technicians at cisco. Thanks for auto renewing my contract for the last 3 years for me! Whats that, you want me to pay an invoice for services that i did not even know i had, much less use? thats telus's new innovative billing!

    But what would all that innovation be if you were allowed to run your own webserver on a residential connection? Good thing that telus doesnt let you run fuck all on any port under 1024! I certainly also loved how they innovated new ways of traffic shaping on even their supposedly open business connections. Or their innovative use of fibre splicing techniques that makes novus, rogers and a fucklot of other companies basically sit on their asses till a telus technician can crack a manual and connect two strands together. If there is one thing that telus innovates over all else, its new ways to sell customers equipment, and then send technicians out who get paid 120$ an hour to 'learn as they go' on it. I had no idea how much they loved to educate their employees at the expense of their customers uptime and cold hard cash. Thats innovative learning right there!

    Lets see what else... they innovated a way to use 4 technicians to remove a single pay phone. Two to crimp and uncrimp the wires, and two more to TURN THE FUCKING BOLTS IN THE BASE OF THE PAYPHONE AND UNSEAT IT. (why dont you make that data connection modular, then we could just remove the payphone ourselves - to a dumbfounded look and then a stutter of; WE CANT DO THAT!!!)

    Oh i got another one i just remembered. They innovated a way to sign you up for two cel phone contracts AT THE SAME TIME! how useful is that! you could like, talk to yourself? Their HTC and LG handsets which are carrier locked, 5 firmware versions behind, are certainly inspiring me to innovate new ways of airborn phone destruction.

    So basically what I am trying to say I guess is this: Fuck Telus!!!!!!!

  • by DdJ (10790) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:25PM (#31029202) Homepage Journal

    This idea that some groups at MSFT sabotage others? Looks to me like we can see it happening to the XBox 360 right now.

    The main culprits are Zune and (maybe) Silverlight.

    All of the video stuff on the XB360, movie rentals and such, just got changed from a "built into the firmware" thing to a separate app. A separate app that requires registration, isn't as convenient to use, won't let you queue up video downloads from over the web anymore, and has Zune branding. Does anyone think the initiative behind that started by thinking about how to make the box better for consumers? Really? Come on.

    And as I understand it, there's been a beefed up Silverlight engine deployed recently, with the result that there are now full video advertisements in "blades" (or whatever they're called now) all over the recent "no it's not the Sony XMB" NXE user interface.

    Look at what's going on. It looks like Someone who's not from within the successful XBox team has decided to Tamper With Things. And things are getting worse. Right at the time when Sony is getting better.

    It's not all gone yet, but I don't like the direction it's heading. And the clues seem to indicate that the author of the linked-to article has put their finger on the core problem.

  • media player? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:29PM (#31029232) Journal

    Could this be why media player still doesn't let me control subtitles and alternate audio tracks, when free players have for ages?

  • Top Down (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:43PM (#31029362)

    It's all about top down. If you have people at the top that inspire and care, then it shows below.

    Granted, Jobs is a dick. But he does have vision and does appreciate thinking out of the box. Gates and Ballmer totally lack this - they 100% lack vision. They're business dudes in and out and software (from Gates' early days of the Homebrew club) was always a means to get them money. Not a means to create something great or useful or transformative. Microsoft never changed the music biz or cell phone biz, etc. When money is secondary, then great things can be accomplished. When the biz dudes run the show, forget it.

    While I do not like MS products at all (not well designed, buggy, 'me-too' syndrome), I thought they, for once, nailed it with the Courier. A UI that made sense for what it was and a completely different way of working. Of course it will never see the light of day. Too bad because I think a lot of people would have bought it and it would be a serious challenger to the iPad.

    Rolling Stone had an interview with Jobs where he basically said that the goal wasn't to be the richest man in the cemetery. Couldn't agree more. In my mind, nothing innovating or original comes out of MS and ever makes it to product. Probably never will either.

  • by JustNiz (692889) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @09:06PM (#31029602)

    Everything you've credited as Microsoft innovations amount to little more than tiny marketing tweaks. I mean the ribbon interface is just a different menubar layout. Hardly earthshattering is it?

    Shadow copy has been almost standard practice in the server world way before Microsoft ever did it. Its basically how RAID came about.

    >> Fast user switching was in Windows before OS X or Linux had it.

    Umm nope. Linux has always supported virtual terminals. You can have multple concurrent sessions under different users going on and switch between them without logging in and out at all. Actually Microsoft's Fast user switching appears to be just a kludge intended to address problems caused by limited thinking/poor performance/poor design in other areas. Hardly innovation is it?

    >> I'd say putting a HD inside a game console was a pretty innovative idea,
    I beleive it was acutally Sony who did it first with the PS2 but reagardless, innovative? really? Given the Xbox is already just a locked-down PC in a gaming case? adding a hard drive is innovative? wow.

    Arc Mouse? I'm not ever going to believe that just slightly changing the shape of a mouse is true innovation. I mean it still has the same buttons, wheel etc.

    I'll give you the surface table as being innovative. Well I would if it was an actual product people could really buy.

  • by argent (18001) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Thursday February 04, 2010 @09:11PM (#31029660) Homepage Journal

    In plain terms, the isolated Tablet was little more than a crippled laptop, and the isolated Pocket PC was almost completely useless.

    I disagree. I got my first handheld (it ran PalmOS, as it happened) in January 2000, and it was far from useless. The Pocket PC was far more powerful, and although it suffered from a number of flaws that made it less useful to ME than a Palm it was certainly far from useless.

    I must admit that the Pocket PC team didn't seem to really appreciated what they had. I had hoped that the PPCWB meeting late in 2000 might have helped wake them up, and it did to some point. For example, when we arrived, us Palm users immediately beamed our cards to each other (I still have all my cards from that meeting), but it was too inconvenient to do that with teh Pocket PC. PPC 2002 improved that a lot. PPC 2002 also got better character recognition, and other improvements. But it didn't get others... it was still clearly subordinate to the desktop, not a partner. We really got the feeling that the product was being deliberately stunted.

    As an aside, when we met the PPC developers several of us asked if we could exchange cards. Only one had their handheld with him, and he hadn't entered his own contact information into it.

    I tried switching to the Jornada I got from that meeting. It was a much better book reader than my Palm, but it just wasn't reliable enough for me, so I bought a Sony Clie to replace it and go back to the Palm OS.

    Ironically, Palm grabbed all our names and set up a mailing list for us to talk to Palm. They called it "Palm Influencers". So far as I can tell, two years of us talking to Palm led to no indications that we had any influence on them at all. Microsoft proved much better at listening.

  • Re:news flash (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Thursday February 04, 2010 @09:35PM (#31029882) Homepage Journal

    Mac OS had a small marketshare, it was and is pretty easy to change some pretty radical things without much problems. Not the same thing with an OS with 90%+ of marketshare.

    And yet Microsoft did pull off exactly such a transition once, and did so at a time when it was even more of a monopoly than it is now. Windows NT (which became 2000, XP, etc.) was just as different "under the hood" from Windows 3.x/95/98/ME as Mac OS X was from the classic Mac OS, but Microsoft managed to move PC users from one to the other with minimal disruption -- less disruption, in fact, than Mac users experienced going from Classic to X. (And I'm not taking sides here: I'm a Mac user by preference, but at the time I was working as a developer on Windows.) I don't really think they'll be able to do it again, you understand, but it's not because of their market share that this is so. It's a more fundamental problem in their corporate culture, one that's really only developed in the last decade or so.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @09:42PM (#31029940) Homepage

    It's always hard to find incentives that makes everybody pull in the right direction. For example, it's not that US companies don't want to think long term. But when employees think short term because they want to pass their performance evaluations, middle managers think short term of their quarterly bonus and executives think short term on the stock price and their stock options, then the result is that the company acts like short term is all that matters right up until it collapses in bankruptcy.

    The same is true for departments, people only act in the company's best interest if it's better to cooperate than to compete. Unprofitable units and business lines are cut all the times, you're safer as a moneymaker in a tanking company than a mediocre department in a booming company. You can still get axed or outsourced because they need to focus their business or increase their margins but nobody wants to put their head on the chopping block and hope they'll be spared for setting a good example. An indispensable worker is a liability, somehow the same rules don't apply for departments.

    Finally, it's not just different business units competing but even competing functions, like say the classic of the salesman who'll happily sell an overpromised and underestimated solution because his bonus depends on sales and not if it's actually a good deal for the company. But in defense of marketing, I've seen equally as bad examples where it seems engineering and QA has only cared about being on schedule and on budget and left the support function to pick up the tab. And even support departments that act more like anti-support departments to minimize support queues and rather kill sales because people are unhappy.

    With all due respect to software developers I've found that writing software is easy because you tell the computer and it just does. Granted, it'll crash or hang if you instruct it wrong and has no intelligence of its own, but it's nothing like all the ways people circumvent your intentions and exploit your incentives. Sometimes I wonder if great leadership is just keeping people from doing all the things they shouldn't be doing. Not that by using the word "just" I mean that it's easy, quite the opposite really. I think everyone here knows the output one man can have if he's motivated, challenged and reasonably pushed so he's neither stressed nor slacking. If you could keep ten thousand people in that state you'd be worth every cent of your CEO salary.

  • What? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tjstork (137384) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (ykswordnab.ddot)> on Thursday February 04, 2010 @10:11PM (#31030144) Homepage Journal

    I don't recall their compilers and tools ever being more than mediocre.

    Microsoft BASIC was hands down the best BASIC to program a PC with in the early 1980s. It had real string arrays, and important string functions like left, mid, and right, that other Basic implementations simply lacked.

    Yes, TurboPascal and TurboC definitely stole the lead in tools from them, but the original TurboPascal has no linker and TurboC would be eclipsed with Visual C++, and after that the Visual Studio chain would gain a lead and remain the best all around IDE. Even now, the combination of Resharper + Visual C# is the best general purpose development story out there.

    I will say though, that Microsoft's obsession with C# does open them up. The Linux C++ story is getting to be pretty darned good. I'm having a rather dandy time with Eclipse on Ubuntu 9, and Linux has always had the lead for 64 bit C++ programming, and always will have it simply because they have a better mix of integer, long and pointer sizes than Windows, and the calling convention is faster.

  • Neither is best. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tjstork (137384) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (ykswordnab.ddot)> on Thursday February 04, 2010 @10:23PM (#31030214) Homepage Journal

    I would make the argument that its not cooperation or competition in a large company, but just autonomy that matters most. General Motors for years sought to tie all of its disparate car divisions that it acquired in the 1920s and 1930s into a single cohesive whole. By the time it was successful, they had created so many layers and bureacracies within the company, that the whole system was mired with inefficiency and red tape. Like, how long were many cars denied better engines, because Corvette "had to be" the fastest car.

    Eliminating functional overlap in multiple divisions seems more like a disaster that it is worth. Sure, GM might have had cost overlap with in its different car divisions, but, if each could sink or swim on its own, it would have been easier to drop one or grow one over the years, rather be locked into unrealistic production goals across the entire company in order to make all the red tape pay for itself. Even now, I don't know that bankrupt GM even gets this.

    Ah well.

    And now we have the same sort of crap at Microsoft. Exhibit A [for today], is LINQ vs other ORM efforts that Microsoft is working on in C#. LINQ is what, wildly popular, and it is also killed, largely because LINQ didn't come from the Visual Studio group, but from the SQL Server group. But there's others as well. I suspect that the continual and ongoing story of communications frameworks like WCF largely stems from intradepartmental rivalries and not really customer demand, and this goes all the way back.. like the whole COM fiasco the notion that everything must be COM within Windows (when obviously calling a DLL works pretty well for everything in Linux), came from the Office group and not from the Windows group, and there was infighting there.

    I bet that many of the new features that we see really are targetted for a handful of corporate customers and are less for the far more numerous but smaller shops... Visual Studio is becoming much less of a personal craft tool and more of a stop on an assembly line of shitty code.

    But on the other hand, MS can still put it together on key stuff. Windows 7 is a really good product. I like it.

  • Re:news flash (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TropicalCoder (898500) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @11:45PM (#31030722) Homepage Journal

    It's easy to forget, but around five or so years ago there used to be a *very* fanboyish and indulgent attitude towards Google on Slashdot. That's very much changed now...

    Google is a truly innovative company that have done great things for open source and standards, not to mention how useful they are becoming at keeping Microsoft in check. Their Android operating system and the upcoming Chrome OS will transform the landscape. Between Google and Apple, Microsoft is backed into a corner. Now with Symbian gone open source as the last straw, we may see Microsoft withdraw from the mobile market by year's end. I have not seen any change in attitudes towards Google. What I have seen is a concerted campaign by Microsoft shills on Slashdot and elsewhere to demonize [wired.com] Google. Microsoft has realized that it simply cannot keep up with Google in terms of innovation, since they are not innovators. Their search bling is only growing via buying clients. Their browser is dying. The only way Microsoft knows how to compete is via under-handed attacks on the competition.

  • Re:news flash (Score:3, Interesting)

    by VGPowerlord (621254) on Friday February 05, 2010 @01:48AM (#31031646) Homepage

    Shills don't need to demonize Google. Their own CEO has done a fairly good job [huffingtonpost.com] of it on his own.

    It's not just that, though... Google likes to tout how they're big in to open source. This is true... but only the parts that have the potential increase Google's market-share. How Google's mail and search systems work, for example, are tightly guarded secrets. Even Google's web server is not open source, despite the rumors that it's Apache-based.

  • Re:Top Down (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ThePromenader (878501) on Friday February 05, 2010 @05:47AM (#31032706) Homepage Journal

    I couldn't agree more. Most everything is run by the 'accounting guys' these days - and people like they are only interested in / can only understand a product that is already marketed and making money - an innovation-killing attitude for sure. How is it possible for one with a new idea to 'prove' that it will sell - in a way that profit-uber-alles guys can understand and accept? A task well-nigh impossible.

    Steve Jobs reigns over all in Apple, but his position as 'unique innovation creator/guide' there is also a danger: if he doesn't forward an apprentice/heir soon, his company will be in danger both on the innovation and shareholder fronts.

  • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Friday February 05, 2010 @05:58AM (#31032758)
    I guess you must live in the US, where cars are mostly very technologically backward compared to Europe (there was an article by a Honda guy in the last Scientific American promoting many "future developments" in IC engines which are already mainstream in Europe.

    For road transport there are not many small-vehicle options outside the 4-wheeled box, co complaining that a car is still a car is stupid. VW has volume car designs which use remarkably advanced technologies - small 4-cylinder engines with outputs on a par with US V6 models, and with vastly superior fuel consumption. They make the FSI engine which produces 170BHP from 1.4 liters, with high torque from little more than tickover. They make Diesels which produce 170BHP from 1.9 liters. VW are achieving "hybrid" efficiencies from conventional engines with no expensive nickel batteries. They have commercialised close-ratio 7 speed automatic boxes with dual clutches and no slushbox. And this has been done with genuine innovation rather than incremental improvements.

    And no, I am not a VW driver. I prefer the products of another innovative German company based in Stuttgart.

  • by Corporate Troll (537873) on Friday February 05, 2010 @06:49AM (#31032968) Homepage Journal

    I prefer the products of another innovative German company based in Stuttgart.

    I wonder how many Americans actually understood what you were saying. I'm an Ingolstadt driver by the way :-) I always found it a bit of a weird thing that Germans use city names to refer to car brands. First time I saw it I was wondering what exactly they were talking about.

  • by JustNiz (692889) on Friday February 05, 2010 @11:16AM (#31034666)

    >> No, it's not. Try actually using it.

    Unfortunately I'm obliged to use it every day at work. I still don't think its innovative. In fact I think its crap.

    >> Do you even know what Shadow Copy *is*?
    Yes

    >> Fair enough; though I've never seen a Linux distro with that option enabled.

    Debian, Ubuntu and Fedora certainly do. Next time you're running Linux just hit alt-f1 through alt-f7. If you want to do it even easier just open a few terminal windows and do an su to different users inside each.

    >> All that aside, fine: tell me what you consider an innovative product? Give me an example.

    Ok. The web, Iphone's multitouch, Kindle's e-ink display, toyota prius (first mas-market hybrid) etc etc. Basically something that is the first to come up with a totally new product concept that changes the world, and that people actually want. Sorry but ribbons and a folding mouse just don't cut it, they're really just minor modifications of existing tech. And if thats all a company the size and resources of Microsoft can come up with, then it just underscores my point that they dont innovate.

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