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Break Microsoft Up 355

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the or-just-give-up dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Tom Worstall writes in Forbes that the only way to get around the entrenched culture that has made Microsoft a graveyard for the kind of big ideas that have inspired companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon is to split the company up so as to remove conflicts between new and old products. With Ballmer's departure, instead of finding someone new to run the company, bring in experts to handle the legal side and find suitable CEOs for the new companies. 'The underlying problem for Microsoft is that the computing market has rapidly left behind the company's basic strategy of controlling the machines that people use with operating-system software,' says Erik Sherman. 'The combination of mobile devices that broke Microsoft's grip on the client end, and cloud computing that didn't necessarily need the company in data centers, shattered this form of control.' Anyone can see how easily you could split off the gaming folks, business division, retail stores, and hardware division says John Dvorak. Each entity would have agreements in place for long-term supply of software and services. 'This sort of shake up would ferret out all the empire builders and allow for new and more creative structures to emerge. And since everyone will have to be in a semi-startup mode, the dead wood will be eliminated by actual hard work.'"
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Break Microsoft Up

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  • by rjf_ie (630615) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @08:11AM (#44684467)
    classic old-school, google gets praise for the chromecast, for having an OS, for being in mobile, being in search, being in social networks.. and that's all good. Apple ditto.. but not acceptable for MS. Microsoft needs a good shaking but there are some strong elements in there that need to be supported and accelerated. They have as much right to push for the unified vision as anyone
    • by davidbrit2 (775091) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @08:14AM (#44684479) Homepage
      I think the problem is that their unified vision is anything but unified. Hell, they can't even make up their minds about what Windows 8 is supposed to be.
      • by Joce640k (829181) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @09:00AM (#44684719) Homepage

        Nope.

        The problem is that there's people running Microsoft who still think the way to sell more Windows 8 isn't to listen to customers and fix Windows 8's problems, it's to make (eg.) the next release of Direct3D Windows-8-only thereby "forcing" people to upgrade (LOL!)

        • Yup. It seems to me that Microsoft still has the idea lodged in their collective heads that they're in a position to say, "Fuck you if you don't like our product. You have to buy it anyway." Unfortunately, they are still kind of in that position, but their position is increasingly tenuous.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @11:32AM (#44686527)

          The problem is that there's people running Microsoft who still think the way to sell more Windows 8 isn't to listen to customers and fix Windows 8's problems,

          There's a reason for this.

          The root of the problem is that Microsoft believes in a zero-sum game, namely that:

          "Empowering the customer results in Microsoft losing power."

          This is a very common attitude in the publishing industry. They would rather lose their customers than lose their grip on power.

          This is the driving philosophy that explains so much of what's going on in the industry:

          * DRM -- Screw paying customers for the sake of retaining power over them

          * Artificial limitations -- Hurt the customer so that products don't cannibalize each other

          * Metro -- Badly inconvenience the customer for the sake of some dubious strategic marketing theories

          * Locked-down RT bootloader -- Make the hardware less valuable simply to prevent a few Android installs

          The list goes on and on.

          • by urbanriot (924981)
            Oh, you articulated my primary issue with Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 so well with a single line - "Metro -- Badly inconvenience the customer for the sake of some dubious strategic marketing theories"

            In my role as a primary policy maker to many large global companies, I've outright dictated a complete ban of anything with Windows 8 and a refusal to allow it's connectivity to any network primarily because the user interface is so foul in every possible way and hinders efficiencies. Fortunately my emo
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Draconix (653959)

          I love how badly this strategy is backfiring. A lot of game developers have realized that OpenGL is a better choice than D3D, for the simple fact that if they use OpenGL, their work is easily portable between PS4, iOS, Android, OS X, Linux, and others, while with DirectX they're stuck with Windows and XBox.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I think the problem is that their unified vision is anything but unified. Hell, they can't even make up their minds about what Windows 8 is supposed to be.

        By contrast, their development and cloud products are getting more synced up as each month passes. Their work on Azure is probably the best example of MS unifying a bunch of teams to a common goal.

    • by somersault (912633) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @08:21AM (#44684511) Homepage Journal

      Well, while Windows Mobile used to be the best option for a smartphone out there, and shows that MS were at least trying to be in that market a long time ago.. the fact remains that they haven't come up with anything good on their own for a long time. They try to muscle their way in on everything, rather than making people want their devices. Look at all that shit with the Xbone. Xbox Live had started turning a profit, but they weren't happy with that, and kept trying to push ways to squeeze even more money out of their subscribers. If they focused on creating good products that people love, rather than thinking "how can we take a piece of this emerging market?", they'd be a lot better off.

      • by Dogtanian (588974) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @08:37AM (#44684581) Homepage

        they haven't come up with anything good on their own for a long time

        I'd say that they at least deserved credit for Kinect. While it was obviously released in response to the unforeseen success of the original Wii and its novel control methods, the fact remains that it went beyond being just a "me too" product and was genuinely innovative in its own right.

        That said, it was arguably the exception rather than the rule, probably because it came from the XBox division and wasn't a threat [slashdot.org] to the entrenched interests and politics of the main Windows and Office divisions that have crushed so much potential innovation within MS.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by Scutter (18425)

          The Kinect was a great piece of kit, but in its next iteration, it went right back to "How can we use this to monetize our customers?" Turning into a spying platform to serve targeted ads did nothing but turn people off buying the latest.

        • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @08:52AM (#44684661) Homepage

          I'd say that they at least deserved credit for Kinect.

          Well, they bought the Kinect ... so if the extent of Microsoft's 'innovation' is technology they buy, then yes. But in terms of a single really ground breaking piece of technology Microsoft developed in-house, it's much harder to think of recent examples.

          Yes, the Kinect is a pretty good system, but let's not lose sight of the fact that it was purchased technology. All this means is Microsoft is still rich enough and occasionally observant enough to pick up technology other people have created.

          In terms of their own creation of products from scratch -- I don't think their recent track record is all that impressive. Sure, they've got bazillions of dollars and can keep buying stuff, but as an innovative technology company goes, they've proven a little stagnant recently. Their tablets, phones, Windows 8 ... none of those are doing anywhere near as well as a company the size of Microsoft would expect, and Microsoft s bordering on being a bit player in the mobile market.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @09:13AM (#44684825)

            Sorry - but that is not 100% correct. Being a former MS employee, they were working in their research division on Project Natal in the 90's, which became the backbone of the Kinect. I saw it at many research fairs at the Redmond campus.

          • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @09:50AM (#44685177)

            In terms of their own creation of products from scratch

            That's a pretty high bar you've set. It seems like for you, to qualify as an innovation you have to single handedly build every component within the device at the company internally from first principles (aka "scratch"). The Kinect was as much an innovation as the iPod... it was an evolution of technology, built on existing technology but packaged in a way that brought widespread consumer adoption.

            Can you point to any device from any company that is built fully in-house from scratch? Just looking at the companies listed by TFA as innovative, I can't think of one. Amazon's Kindle Fire? Built on top of Android and chasing the sucess of the iPad. Google's Android? Bought. Google's self driving car? They bought the talent from the DARPA challenges. Google Glass? Under the same principles you will not call the Kinect innovative Google Glass is not innovative - built on the technology others have created. What about the original iPad? Every piece of functioning technolgoy within was purchased from another company. So maybe the OS is all in-house.... but iOS is based on OSX which is based on BSD, so I guess they call short of your bar as well.

            Sorry, ALL technology today is built off the technology others have created. The Kinect used Primesense's sensor to create an innovative gaming device the same way the iPad used someone elses's touch screen technology to create an innovative tablet. Give credit where it is due.

            • by geekoid (135745)

              They only need to first create the universe.

              ALl the hard ware and parts of the Kinect that make it the Kinect where bought.
              the iPod was built in house. Yes, it was a clever assembly of things, most of which already existed. But it was design in house. MS bought all the key Kinect tech after years of failing to be able to do it themselves.

            • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @11:43AM (#44686669) Homepage

              That's a pretty high bar you've set

              OK, let me clarify ... because clearly you feel the need to be pedantic.

              What unique combination of technologies to produce something novel and groundbreaking has MS developed over the last 10 years?

              They couldn't make their own motion controller work, so they bought one and integrated that with XBox, but they didn't build it. The Zune was a "me too" product which apparently 'squirted' and nobody bought. Their tablets and phones, just more "me too" and the market doesn't seem interested. Tabbed browsing, Firefox had that before MS. I'm told at one point they made decent keyboards and mice -- but not what I'd call innovative.

              Other than that, I don't believe Microsoft has 'innovated' much of anything in years. And in a lot of cases, they've done a piss poor job of copying what other people created.

              I'm not saying you need to create every single piece of technology from scratch without relying on anything before. I'm saying they haven't strung together existing bits of technology to create anything which is novel or innovative in a very long time.

              If Microsoft is reduced to making copies of other products, resting on their laurels and collecting revenue from Office and OS upgrades and not making new and interesting things ... then Microsoft despite all of this money on R&D is either pissing it away, or the management are incapable of taking it to the product stage and have anybody buy it.

              Sorry, but Microsoft has become everything they used to criticize IBM for being -- too large to adapt, too rigid in their thinking, and missing out on what it is people are looking for in some of these newer technologies.

              By rights with their resources and spending on R&D Microsoft should be putting out reams of cool stuff. Instead they've given us tablets and phones nobody wants, Windows 8 and not a whole lot else.

              Microsoft may not be in trouble now, but long-term if they're not capable of making anything new and interesting ... they could be really screwed, because gone are the days where they could just trot out an OS every few years and an update to Office and make shit tons of money. You only have to look at their market share in tablets and phones to realize that.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by MrDoh! (71235)
        Windows Mobile the best option? Eeep!
        • Here, you dropped this 'was'. I found it down the back of the sofa you were just chilling on.
        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          I probably was at one time. Before iOS and Android came along, there wasn't much in the way of smart phones. The first gen iPhone didn't come out until 2007, and Windows mobile had been released since 2000. There really wasn't much out in the smartphone market at that time. Their problem was their failure to innovate and stay current. Similar to IE6. Most people forget that when IE6 came out, it was a really good browser. The problem is that they didn't change it for 10 years, even when there was clear
    • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @08:36AM (#44684573) Homepage

      classic old-school, google gets praise for the chromecast, for having an OS, for being in mobile, being in search, being in social networks.. and that's all good. Apple ditto.. but not acceptable for MS.

      I don't think anybody is saying Microsoft shouldn't be allowed to continue as a single entity with their current strategy. They're saying it's not proving to be a very good strategy, and that the entity known as Microsoft might be more profitable if it was broken into several things.

      See, Apple and Google seem to be able to execute on their strategies. But Microsoft is so concerned about cutting into sales off Office or their desktop OSes that some of their other offerings aren't doing so well.

      classic old-school, google gets praise for the chromecast, for having an OS, for being in mobile, being in search, being in social networks.. and that's all good. Apple ditto.. but not acceptable for MS.

      Yes, but has it been working for them? Because, arguably, the Windows Phone and the Windows tablets aren't selling overly well, Windows 8 itself is proving a little lackluster, and Microsoft has generally been stuck doing "me too" for years.

      So, either they need to start making different decisions (like allowing one division to do stuff that isn't dictated by another), start dropping products which are underperforming ... or split into multiple divisions so that they can be separate businesses and actually try to thrive.

      But I think it's hard to not come to the conclusion that something about how Microsoft is doing their strategy is causing some of their products to be selling terribly.

      The "lose money on everything but make it up on volume" works when you're a hugely rich company, but it's still a terrible strategy.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        But Microsoft is so concerned about cutting into sales off Office or their desktop OSes that some of their other offerings aren't doing so well.

        Imagine if the Apple Mac department had blocked the iPhone and/or iPad because it could eat into the Mac market share (which I'm sure it did). I guess Apple would by far not be as profitable as it is now.

        • by gnasher719 (869701) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @09:18AM (#44684865)

          Imagine if the Apple Mac department had blocked the iPhone and/or iPad because it could eat into the Mac market share (which I'm sure it did). I guess Apple would by far not be as profitable as it is now.

          The iPhone is indeed killing iPod sales. The iPad is destroying all growth in Mac sales. And Apple is quite happy with that. Steve Jobs himself said (and I'm quite sure he quoted someone else) that "if you don't cannibalise your products, someone else will".

    • I think breaking up Microsoft would be for the better.... and the same with Apple, Google, and a whole bunch of other megacorporations. At some point that "unified vision" becomes a straightjacket preventing the various divisions from innovating and responding to the market, and all three of those are past that.
  • Schumpeter's gale, Creative destruction, is brewing a cup of economic karma for msft. If only we could get one going for RIAA and MPAA.
  • Amusing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shellster_dude (1261444) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @08:15AM (#44684489)
    One of the most successful companies of all time, which is still doing billions in business, and everyone can't wait to tell them how they are fucking it up...

    Why don't all these brilliant analysts go make billions if they are so smart?
    • Re:Amusing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by somersault (912633) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @08:28AM (#44684539) Homepage Journal

      Because they are fucking it up. Royally. They've enjoyed having a de-facto monopoly position for a long time, but since the rise of mobile devices, everything is becoming even more web-centric and cross-platform than before.

      Windows and Office are slowly losing their status as requirements to get anything done in business, and they're definitely not needed for home computing any more. Geeks already know this, but the rest of the world is catching on too.

      • Because they are fucking it up. Royally. They've enjoyed having a de-facto monopoly position for a long time, but since the rise of mobile devices, everything is becoming even more web-centric and cross-platform than before.

        Nothing de-facto about it, they are a criminally convicted monopolist.

        In fact, their monopoly is the only thing that keeps them afloat. Windows is still shipped on 90+% of new desktops/laptops. Office makes up a good chunk of those as a bundle. Desktop dominance gave them a foothold in the server market, which they exploited. IE kept people tied to Windows for a long time, but that is crumbling now proper standards are being followed.

        Windows and Office are slowly losing their status as requirements to get anything done in business, and they're definitely not needed for home computing any more. Geeks already know this, but the rest of the world is catching on too.

        Yay!

        I'm slowly bringing the missus to the new world order. All her work is

      • by Alkonaut (604183)
        People think of microsoft as making Windows, Office while failing with mobile and games. But you need to look a bit wider to see the whole picture. They have moved in on servers, making Windows Server quite a large player where mainframe systems used to rule. They have successfully moved in (through aquisitions) on the business system area, taking a large chunk out of the revenue of companies like SAP/Oracle. If you include Business systems, Databases, Servers etc. you will see that not only are they either
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      One of the most successful companies of all time, which is still doing billions in business, and everyone can't wait to tell them how they are fucking it up...

      If you look at the numbers, they are clearly fucking it up.

      Why don't all these brilliant analysts go make billions if they are so smart?

      Because Microsoft has been creating illegal and unethical barriers to fair trade by abusing its monopoly position.

      • Re:Amusing (Score:5, Informative)

        by nojayuk (567177) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @09:12AM (#44684821)

        "If you look at the numbers, they are clearly fucking it up."

        Revenues for FY 2013 for MSFT were $77.8B, up 5.6% over FY2012. If that's evidence of "fucking it up" then I know of a lot of businesses who'd really like to be fucked up like MSFT -- Canonical, for example is in Mark Knopfler territory financially speaking, Sony's been losing money year on year for a while but is still regarded as successful, same with a bunch of other tech companies large and small.

        MS' innovation and expansion days are over, they moved (like IBM did in the 90s) to being a services company several years back instead of pushing for growth because in part they had nowhere left to grow into since they owned 90% of the market for business desktop software and a large chunk of the server OS market too. They don't do hardware like Apple and Samsung because they've got customers who do hardware for them (Dell, HP, the various mobo manufacturers). Even the Surface machines are a tiny part of the MS oeuvre, more technology demonstrators than real products. The only mass-market hardware product line is the Xbox and that's not core to what MS does.

        Because Microsoft has been creating illegal and unethical barriers to fair trade by abusing its monopoly position.

        1996 called, it wants its "Year of the Linux Desktop" T-shirt back.

    • Re:Amusing (Score:5, Funny)

      by Type44Q (1233630) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @08:31AM (#44684559)

      Why don't all these brilliant analysts go make billions if they are so smart?

      You don't have to be a successful automotive engineer or car designer to take one look at the X-90 [wikipedia.org] and see that someone somewhere, in more ways than one, fucked-up monumentally.

      There's your car analogy, for simplicity's sake. ;)

    • What gets me is all these people saying that Microsoft needs to innovate and move into new markets, but also believing things like in this article. Moving into new markets, many of which are new only to Microsoft, is going to be costly and time consuming. The ability to spend large quantities of money and easily take losses that others would find devastating is an advantage that Microsoft has over many other companies, and it would allow them to move into basically any entrenched space they want, with the
    • Re:Amusing (Score:4, Informative)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @09:10AM (#44684799) Homepage

      One of the most successful companies of all time

      At one point, so was Enron and the Roman Empire ... that doesn't mean Microsoft hasn't put out some dogs lately, and that they couldn't be making even more money if the division which makes Office wasn't using their strange hold on the company to make sure nothing cuts into their profits.

      Are you seriously thinking Windows phone, their tablets, or Windows 8 are hugely successful products?

      Microsoft's strategy the last bunch of years has been to prop up unprofitable products until they become successful (XBox) or cancelled (Zune) -- and with the hardware makers pulling back from their tablets and phones to focus on things, it's going to hurt even more.

    • I appreciate your view, but at the same time, I can't help but observe that your logic is broken. Making billions but less billions than they previously were making is a bad sign, especially when coupled with a lower percentage of the overall market share and a huge public rejection of your latest flagship products. Gotta look past the number of zeroes.

    • One of the most successful companies of all time, which is still doing billions in business, and everyone can't wait to tell them how they are fucking it up...

      Well, they are fucking up. There's the old joke: What's the easiest way to become a millionaire? Start with a billion... Microsoft was in a very, very strong position ten years ago. That's why they are still in a reasonably strong position today. But really, if Ballmer had done a good job then we would all have been using Surface tablets for the last three years with the some UI as the M-Phones we were using for the last six years, and we would be poking fun at Apple's and Google's feeble attempts to get in

    • Re:Amusing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @09:21AM (#44684903)

      Oil tankers tend to go forward a long while even after the engine is off.

      MS has been going forward quite a while now without any engine running. And restarting it means that you have to invest a LOT of fuel just to get it going again, unless you strip that tanker down to a speedboat and leave the rusted hulk behind.

    • Most of Microsoft's continued profits come from "momentum." Back in the day, everyone HAD to use Windows and Office. If you didn't use Windows and Office, you couldn't do business. (Yes, I know there were always alternatives, but the mindset and market share were such that it was very hard to NOT use Microsoft products.) Today, you don't NEED to use them. Many companies still use them because that's what they've always used (i.e. Momentum) but that can't last forever. At some point, some companies wil

    • Re:Amusing (Score:4, Insightful)

      by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby@@@comcast...net> on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @09:27AM (#44684955)

      Nobody here is arguing that they are doing billions in business. The issue is that they should be doing many billions in business more than they are. In the words often attributed to Senator Dirksen "A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money."

      This is an industry in which incumbent multibillion giants fall, events that many Slashdot saw or experienced first hand. Fundamentals are fundamentals and any company the starts to consistently make the same mistakes that the previous multibillion dollar companies made is likely to have a repeat of the same consequences.

      Microsoft treats it's customers (e.g. Windows 8.1 Start Button instead of Menu), manufacturing partners (8.0/8.1 & the Surface), professional advocates (ending Technet) and it's own employees (stacked ranking) with contempt. When your busy pissing off the very people that you need to stay in business you lose their good will. When you lose their good will they start to make fundamental decisions to go with competitors products. The market reflects these changes everywhere from the rise of alternative office suites to failure of Windows phone to the largest consecutive set of multibillion dollar losses the PC market has ever seen.

      The giants can and will fall, nobody is entitled to an empire. Unless Microsoft stops treating the very people it needs as the enemy and starts listening to what people keep telling them that they want they will continue to lose their empire. Start by reading this excellent piece from Vanity Fair on Microsoft's Stacked ranking system for their employees [vanityfair.com].

    • Why don't all these brilliant analysts go make billions if they are so smart?

      Sorry, but this is a really stupid thing to say. Yes, I know you probably think it makes a lot of sense, because lots of people think about things that way, but it's just amazing that you assume that wealth and intelligence are necessarily linked.

      First, there's the expectation that smart people are all focused on making making money, as though it's intelligent to waste your life scrambling to accure more money than you can use. Second, you assume that intelligent people can simply think themselves into b

    • by sjbe (173966)

      One of the most successful companies of all time, which is still doing billions in business, and everyone can't wait to tell them how they are fucking it up...

      The fact that they remain (absurdly) profitable doesn't mean their strategic position is a good one. What made Microsoft a success for the last 20 years isn't what is going to matter in the next 20 years. The world has changed but Microsoft has struggled with that change. While still very important, PCs aren't the epicenter of computing they once were. Mobile devices are where almost all of the growth is and Microsoft does not have a dominant position or even particularly promising products in that spac

    • Re:Amusing (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hey! (33014) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @11:27AM (#44686449) Homepage Journal

      Well "fucking it up" is one way of putting it. And it's true, if by "fucking it up" people mean moving towards being just another player rather than the dominant player in the market.

      Sears was the Amazon of its heyday -- if not more so. It dominated a huge slice of the American retail economy, using the hot technology of the day: the mail order catalog. It spent decades in decine, powered by inertia and massive paid-for infrastructure -- hundreds of yellow brick stand-alone stores and distribution centers across the country built in the 1920s to 1950s. I remember the Sears of the early 70s. Dirty, unattactive stores full of (except for tools) shoddy, undesirable merchandise.

      Sears went though a decline-driven break up, divesting itself of insurance, consumer credit, construction and other non-retail operations before selling the rump of the retail business to K-Mart in 2005. "Sears" today is essentially a re-branded K-Mart, and many spun-off pieces of the old Sears conglomerate survive and prosper as independent entities or with new owners in a related business. The problem wasn't with any of the individual pieces of the business, it was moving with the times while managing all the different *kinds* of pieces of the business.

      Which is not to say that Microsoft is necessarily going the way of Sears, but there are some interesting parallels. Like Sears, MS exploited an unique market position to enter many other markets. Like Sears, MS has several highly successful cash cow operations that can sustain marginally successful side businesses. That's a blessing in the short term, but sometimes a curse in the long term. In the mobile space, MS wore Palm down with shear financial persistence, only to lose that hard won market to more agile and creative competitors.

      MS may still regain its mobile position by funding that business from its cash cows, but it's not sure thing. Doing that across many business areas could translate into a lot of lost profit in the long term, depending on its future success in those areas.

  • Yes and No (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nukenerd (172703) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @08:26AM (#44684535)
    FTFA :- "Anyone can see how easily you could split off the gaming folks, business division, retail stores, and hardware division says John Dvorak."

    Agreed. Each of those areas could be self-contained, if it isn't already.

    "Each entity would have agreements in place for long-term supply of software and services. 'This sort of shake up would ferret out all the empire builders and allow for new and more creative structures to emerge."

    Why? There will always be empire builders. And why would "new and more creative structures" emerge? If the existing divisions are lagely self-contained, what stops that now? I have witnessed companies down-sizing and splitting up - management become obsessed with it as an end in itself, like "well we shut down that department, what can we shut down next?". They stop thinking about the product. "Creative" groups are the first up against the wall.

    On a much smaller scale, I saw a company of about 30 people reduced to about 5 because the new owner, a devout Thatcherite, just thought "The smaller the better". It ended up with the craftsman in the workshop keep having to stop making stuff to go and answer the phone; that was not efficient.
    • If the existing divisions are lagely self-contained, what stops that now?

      Problem is, Microsoft doesn't let them be self-contained. Everything is geared towards protecting Windows and Office. Divisions have been shuffled around as needed when the SEC reports and/or marketing needs a boost.

      • Problem is, Microsoft doesn't let them be self-contained. Everything is geared towards protecting Windows and Office. Divisions have been shuffled around as needed when the SEC reports and/or marketing needs a boost.

        Apple doesn't let its product lines be self-contained. But instead of trying to protect certain products, they try very hard to make everything work together well.

  • it's kinda like quoting bill o'reilly.

  • I can't see any successful big ideas which have come out of Google in the last 5 years. The last good big idea was probably Android in 2007 and even that emerged partly from an acquisition. Apple's last good big idea was again in 2007.

    • by ganjadude (952775)
      i see you are talking about the iphone, id go a step back and go with the ipod. the iphone was just the obvious evolution from the ipod. IMO its been over a decade since apple has come out with anythng special
      • Re:Big Ideas (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rolfwind (528248) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @08:57AM (#44684703)

        Well, there will be people who say the iPod was nothing special (I'm not one of them) because of mp3 players existing before then. But both of you are forgetting about the iPad - first real successful tablet in that form.

        But I think the problem is that technology levels make some items inevitable and we're really waiting for technology to advance for the next big idea to manifest. Not so much the next big idea itself. Unless they can replace our eyeballs with an attractive replacement that also acts as a phone, camera, and HUD... convergence technology is pretty limited right now to what we have - a phone, tape recorder, gps, browser, camera, etc in our pockets.

        Everything from there will be an evolution until that eyeball form factor is feasible.

        Otherwise it's like waiting for the next big idea on the desktop in 1985 (when the 386 was released). Milestones (integrated soundcard, etc) came and went but the next big revolutionary idea never came. Evolution came. We went far since then. Looking back, home computing seems like a revolution. But it's one revolution, lots of little evolutions.

        The next big idea (www and internet for the common man) did, but it was not strictly a desktop thing imo. But again, www is the revolution. Lots of evolutions since then to make the web page of 1993 look antique.

  • They should focus on their core competency: software. Expand existing business-oriented product-lines to iOS, Android, and Linux, in addition to Windows. There-in lies the revenue. Trying to compete with entrenched hardware manufacturers like Sony and Samsung is a loser's game.

  • Maybe in 1999 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rolfwind (528248) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @08:37AM (#44684579)

    No one recognized the Year of Linux having come and possibly passed, because it was in the pocket, not the desktop.

    Back in 1999, this breakup may have been a good idea, comply with the Court monopolistic findings and make 2 much more agile companies.

    But what is the point now? The techscape is very different and Microsoft's woes is mostly the result of internal bureacracy that built up complying with that now obsolete order. Get rid of the bureaucracy, not split the company. At worst, it goes to court and I find it very hard that MS will lose.

    What MS needs is leadership that's more adventurous than "Look! Me too!" and backed by MS's considerable but ever slowly dwindling resources. In the last 15 years, all they added for themselves on top of the OS and Office was Xbox. The problem long term for MS is that the desktop is now old hat and it has no share in mobile. On top of that, for most users, Operating Systems will be given ever less importance to the end user. Already, I have friends who do their Quickbooks and Intuit taxes online with just a browser. Something they couldn't do 15 years back. They use one of the free office softwares and edit pics with another free program that's better than 90% of the pay programs. Their OS at this point couldn't matter less and that's how they like it. All that matters is their data and being able to manipulate it. 15 years ago, it was unfathomable to get on in the world with anything but Windows. Now you can get along with minimum 3 OSes.

    MS's OS (and it's wealth) comes at considerable cost to others. License fees ratchet up every so often and what now. If other industries/companies can do away with a cost, they will. And that means eventually dumping Microsoft. Especially when this expensive commodity can be replaced for free. With Chromebook, this is creeping in. 15 years ago, this was unfathomable and crap like Lindows was a joke from a 3rd tier company no one heard of. Because Ballmer was right - it's about the applications, stupid. Developers and all that.

    Ironically, that's exactly what MS now lacks in the mobile arena. They lost at their own game. They're suffering the same problem Linux had on the desktop - marketshare. With the Microsoft Zune, they skated to where the puck was, not where it was going. Taste that, friends, because that's just sweet. Now that OS agnostic world is on the horizon, Windows becoming a niche among professionals and gamers but no longer synonymous with computing, or even desktop computing.

    Who knew? The Year of Linux on the Desktop will probably come when the OS couldn't matter one bit anymore and for that very reason.

    • No one recognized the Year of Linux having come and possibly passed, because it was in the pocket, not the desktop.

      Yeah, it's pretty interesting to think about how much of our personal computing now takes place on Unix or Linux. There are, of course, people who use Linux or BSD on the desktop and server, but setting that aside, there are now a lot of people using Macs, which are running a certified Unix. Then there are the iOS devices, which are also running unix, and Android devices which run Linux. I've also seen some people running around with Chromebooks, which is again Linux.

      There are a couple of big moves to w

  • The only thing that ever made Microsoft great was its ability to leverage its core OS into new markets. Sure that isn't working lately, but if you take that away, what have they got left? Not a lot.

  • The underlying problem for Microsoft is that the computing market has rapidly left behind the company's basic strategy of controlling the machines that people use with operating-system software

    In what alternate reality? The computing market here in the real world has wholeheartedly embraced that strategy. Windows and Mac on the desktop/laptops, every game console's proprietary OS, iOS and even Android is heading in that direction in the portable space. Linux is still mostly free of it, but then Linux is a blip in "the computing market" in this context.

    I'm not saying that Microsoft's not screwed, but I question the credentials of an "expert" who says, essentially, "The reason <big oil company

  • by rodrigoandrade (713371) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @08:46AM (#44684617)

    The moment someone uses John Dvorak to support an argument, I stop taking them seriously.

  • Microsoft being broken up would break the things they have that are working. So their cloud/application linkage in azure would be broken up.
    The area where the disaster has taken place is in Windows. By making 8 - they've irrepairably damaged 7, and 8.1 doesn't fix it. The cloud area they worked on has been destructive of on premise IT, which is dumb. You don't need that damage.

    If you really kill windows, you're in very deep trouble on the server and application sides, and it requires a full rework.

    Although

  • . . . back in 1992-1993, all the analysts were screaming that IBM needed to break up.

    What Microsoft needs, is a Lou Gerstner, not a breakup.

  • so they can come in have a os that can run of most of the systems running 7 and 8 right now as well maybe some of the systems still on XP.

    Also that can let mac os X run on real server hardware.

  • I agree that they need to prune and focus.. and I absolutely hate how they make up the worst names for all there products and services (Windows RT anyone?) which only adds to the confusion about their offerings.. but what SHOULD be one of Microsoft's big advantages is that they have *all* the pieces of the puzzle.

    If they could ever just work together and integrate them all they literally have most of everyday computing covered with their products. The potential for easy sharing of data across platforms an

  • by T.E.D. (34228) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @09:42AM (#44685095)

    So the basic argument is that if Microsoft hadn't appealed in 2000 and had just abided by Judge Jackson's ruling [wikipedia.org], they wouldn't be in the mess they are in today?

    So the company's no better off for all that extra legal wrangling, but in the meantime a lot of lawyers and investors made a mint.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @10:42AM (#44685819) Journal

    ...with what to do with the OS division. Microsoft Windows is simply not in a position to compete with "free". The paradigm of users having no choice but to buy expensive incremental improvements to try to mitigate the bugs of the previous release is too deeply ingrained in Microsoft's business plan. We're more than a decade past any radical improvements in Windows. It's almost to the point where they would have to deliberately break Windows in order to create a market for the next release. Oh, wait....

    It's not about the OS anymore. And applications that are tied to an unpopular OS will eventually be left behind, which spells difficulty with a Microsoft applications division. Just the act of creating hardship for the users, which had worked so well in the past, is now only helping the competition. If Apple has a sheltered garden, Microsoft had a prison camp. But they can't keep the gate closed anymore.

    Windows 8's biggest competition is Windows 7. This illustrates a fundamental problem with the business plan.

    Perhaps the best strategy would be for a hypothetical OS division to adopt "OS as an application", and work on easily enabling legacy applications running on today's platforms, and recognize that this is only an interim business solution. There has been a lot of work in this area, but it tends to be something only geeks can do. Make something that my mom could install on a non-Windows box and run her old copy of Office, and you'd really have something. This will eventually happen anyway; rather than get soundly beaten, and have the OS division be a millstone around the other products' necks, Microsoft might as well participate.

  • by hesaigo999ca (786966) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @01:54PM (#44688453) Homepage Journal

    Hugh Pickens writes...blah blah blah...

    Who is Hugh Pickens? I ask only because for someone to suggest that this is what MS needs to do, would need a precedent for this to be suggested, where this person would have been apart of and seen the end result directly. This person would have had to have been in a previous situation with a similar company with similar situations and have seen the progress in order to turn around and suggest that fracturing a company into smaller parts is for the better. If you have proof that this works, then please put on the table. I have yet to hear of companies that got better when they fractured off into smaller pieces, if anything, it has been the reverse, merger after merger solidifies the companies overall hold on the market and offers stability towards unifying that all sub sections follow the same protocols and can lose the dead weight of needless duplication of processes.

The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives. -- Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project

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