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Microsoft

Microsoft Fights the Flab as it Turns 30 214

Alain Williams writes "This review of Microsoft, as it enters middle age, looks at it's problems in maintaining growth." Discusses the recent Kai-Fu Lee/Google debacle, as well as things like Apple's iPod.
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Microsoft Fights the Flab as it Turns 30

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  • by chanda3199 ( 786804 ) on Sunday September 18, 2005 @10:56AM (#13589469)
    ...red midlife crisis sports car?
    • by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara...hudson@@@barbara-hudson...com> on Sunday September 18, 2005 @11:41AM (#13589669) Journal
      No, they're past the "mid-life crisis" stage.

      Mid-life crisis, you buy stuff to make you feel better (Microsofts' bought LOTS of stuff over the years).

      Cranky old spinster is more like it. Throwing chairs, continually trying to evoke the ghost of the good old days, complaining that nobody gives them the respect they think they still deserve, upset that everyone is going all googley-eyed for those who are younger, prettier, cooler, sexier.

      Now we see the aging dame getting some cosmetic surgery, trying to put a new face on the old battleaxe. Unfortunately, in both looks and code, beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes right to the bone.

      Sure, she can still get a date. She has money. There are those who are quite willing to play the part of Deuce Bigelow, male gigolo. But she knows that her bedmates are only in it for the bucks, they may be with her physically, but mentally they're miles away, wondering how they can "get lucky" with the new prom queen, and worried that they may never be able to because of the "Ewww - you slept with HER?" factor.

      Stay tuned for the next installment - "Microsoft Windows - Vampire Edition", where a deal with the devil is quickly done, and for some reason users are feeling drained (well, more than usual) ...

      • Well if you can spare some money to buy some long term put options, this would be the time, also buying some stock of AMD & Apple's won't hurt either.
        • Put MSFT just ahead of a major release? Buy AMD?

          Do you hate your money?
        • Buy puts? If anything I would rather buy some call options. This is probably the busiest Microsoft has been since the late 90's (probably since Windows 95). I am guessing that sales and earnings have more upside potential than downside...

          AMD? Nah... AMD may be ok but it is a riskier move...

          Apple? Probably overvalued IMO. If Apple loses its iPod market share, it's going to get hammered. It has a lot of things going for it but iPod is a huge factor. Unlike many other products, iPod is something that ha
          • Re:Time for the... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by MPHellwig ( 847067 )
            Microsoft is like oil (in more then one perspective). Sooner or later you have to shift to other resources. Just say that I believe it will be sooner then later. But if you still want to buy oil for your long term investment, be my guest.
      • LOL hehe :) That's one of the funniest posts I have read on Slashdot... You really have some talent... A lot of the jokes on slashdot are either lame or just a re-hash of someone else's joke but yours is pretty good...
    • Does this mean we have another 30 years of Microsoft to "look forward to"...?
  • by burtdub ( 903121 ) on Sunday September 18, 2005 @10:57AM (#13589475)
    When Microsoft hits its midlife crisis, what's it going to do? Patent the Porsche?
  • F**K OFF (Score:5, Funny)

    by gowen ( 141411 ) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Sunday September 18, 2005 @10:58AM (#13589481) Homepage Journal
    Thirty is not middle aged.

    Love,
    Gaz (age 32)
  • Saturated market? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Transcendent ( 204992 ) on Sunday September 18, 2005 @10:59AM (#13589485)
    How can microsoft continue to grow with it's current market share? Granted it still has competition, but that's not going to change much.

    Tons of people use windows, the people that don't aren't going to switch any time soon. Most people (in the US at least) have computers (and probably running windows)... so the only place I can see microsoft going is into a new market section, or just down.

    With embedded media centers not taking off that fast, I'm assuming the latter will most likely happen.
    • "How can microsoft continue to grow with it's current market share?" I don't know; maybe... actually concentrate on releasing quality, bug-free products that people want to buy?
      • by tsa ( 15680 )
        No, why should they? They are now in the phase where they have to cater the replacement market. The people that buy their products are already used to their quality and don't expect more. Besides, most people don't even know that there are more software manufacturers than MS. How do you think they get away with the new look and feel of Vista that they so obviously (to us) ripped from OSX? Because 90% of their customers never see a Mac end will marvel at the new eye-candy and the 'new and innovative' feature
    • With embedded media centers not taking off that fast, I'm assuming the latter will most likely happen

      I think you hit the nail on the head. From the article,

      Microsoft is also keen to move into consumer and entertainment markets, a growing opportunity in the broadband era. However, Apple's iPod and iTunes have wiped the floor with the Windows Media Player in the fast-expanding field of digital music.

      MS wants to enter every other market they can now that they have saturated the PC market. Gaming consoles

      • Re:Saturated market? (Score:3, Informative)

        by tomhudson ( 43916 )
        Gaming consoles are an area where they have in fact done okay
        They've never made a profit from the xbox, and, to quote their 10k filing:
        price reductions in the second half of fiscal 2004 related to the late stage of the Xbox lifecycle are expected to lead to lower revenue for the Xbox business.
        Microsfots profits are from Windows and Office, and they're both coming under attack as well.
    • How can microsoft continue to grow with it's current market share? Granted it still has competition, but that's not going to change much.

      In one word, China. But others markets like India and South America also exist and are growing markets.

      Microsoft is finding it tough there, most agree if it wasn't pirated non-paying customers Microsoft would even count in the market.

      Linux is doing well in China, even though Dell and HP will not sell Linux desktops/laptops in the US by agreements with Microsoft; they

      • Linux is doing well in China, even though Dell and HP will not sell Linux desktops/laptops in the US by agreements with Microsoft; they do routinely sell Linux loaded desktops/laptops in China.

        Linux is pre-installed on computers because it's free and the purchase price is more dear in China than in the US. It's promptly replaced by a pirated copy of Windows, which (in cities, at least) is never more than a 5 minute walk away.

        • Linux is pre-installed on computers because it's free and the purchase price is more dear in China than in the US. It's promptly replaced by a pirated copy of Windows, which (in cities, at least) is never more than a 5 minute walk away.

          You honestly believe that Linux gets replaced by a pirated copy of windows??? why on earth would anyone want to revert to such a resource hungry insecure OS??? I dumped windows back in '99 and have never been happier... I laugh whenever my co-workers complain about viruses e

          • All well and good for you and your daughter.

            However, you seem to have a rather naive view of the world. Not everyone wants to use Linux, not everyone sees it as a godsend in the way you do.

            A lot of people use Windows for very good reasons; applications which don't work under Linux, ease of use, the "eye candy, amongst other things.

            Oh, and I've never had one bit of spyware nor any viruses infect my Windows system. Ever. Maybe I just know how to take care of my system?

    • by kamapuaa ( 555446 ) on Sunday September 18, 2005 @12:05PM (#13589781) Homepage
      How is this different than in 1992, when basically 100% of the OS market was MS, the vast majority of Word Processors and Database products were MS, and those products were MS's cash cows? They've still managed to grow since 1992, even if their expansions into new markets haven't been nearly as profitable as these core businesses.

      Who's to say they can't keep at it?

      • Very different. Alot of us are keeping windows around for the sake of games. Next generation consoles the likes of PS3 and xbox360 will be the first time an actual split might occur, where the masses finally give up on PC gaming.

        I know a couple diehard techies who already got tired of buying and installing video cards every other year. Not to mention in 1992, PC offered FPS, RTS games by the dozen. Any good PC games now makes the console list in 12 months anyways.

      • Who's to say they can't keep at it?

        I'll say they're unlikely to keep at it, because the desktop computer market in the US and Western Europe, where Microsoft makes the vast majority of its profits, are saturated with computers. Unlike 1992, virtually everyone who wants or needs a computer now has one, and a powerful machine can be easily bought for $300. So the chief way Microsoft grew so fast -- through people buying new computers or first computers -- is tapped.

        In addition, I'd argue that the improvement


      • It's different because a large percentage of the western world now has reasonably fast computers and internet access. In 1992, a 286 was fast and 98% of the world did not know what the internet was.

        Now (yes, it's still mostly Windows), a 2 GHz processor with a 40 GB hard drive connected to the net via 56.6 dial-up is average. And everyone now knows about the internet, so they are less likely to buy what they don't really need.
    • In today's business world any company that has publicly held stock is on a 3 month cycle. The only relationship to a midlife crisis that Microsoft may have is that their products are running out of steam. They will not see the kinds of growth they have seen in the past. I fully expect to see the decline accelerate when they release their new updated packages. I don't think they will see companies planning major upgrades to the new packages. Partially due to the licensing changes they have been pushing
  • by deaddrunk ( 443038 ) on Sunday September 18, 2005 @11:01AM (#13589494)
    I lost 44 pounds, perhaps MS should sign up and lose several pounds of chair-throwing, monkey-dancing flab.
    • They need to loose, not several, but about 280 pounds of chair throwing, swearing, monkey dancing flab.
      • To clarify my point -- I'm not necessarily suggesting that they ditch balmer -- he runs that place about as well as could be expected -- but the recently reported behaviour (true or not) really tarnishes their image, and is definitely not in their interest. They need a bit of a make-over in this regard. And that's certainly not going to be all that easy.
  • Surely if (Score:2, Insightful)

    Kai-Fu Lee and the iPod represent MS's biggest problems, they have nothing to worry about.
    • Kai-Fu Lee and the iPod represent MS's biggest problems, they have nothing to worry about.

      The point of the article is that these are two indicators of problems that MS if facing.

      Kai-Fu Lee represents the brain drain that is occuring at the highest levels of Microsoft. In most cases, corporate defection presents problems to all companies. MS' reaction shows signs of desperation though. Combined with signs that Google is where new graduates wish to work, Microsoft may not be able to hire the best and br

      • I suspect part of the problem is that Microsoft can't decide which bit of the music distribution it wants. It originally wanted to sell the tools - promote competition and low margins in the arena but be the supplier to all of the low-margin players (as it did with the PC business). Potential customers were sceptical about this, and this scepticism was proven correct when they decided to launch the MSN Music Store. Now Microsoft is competing with their own customers - a situation that it is generally con
      • Combined with signs that Google is where new graduates wish to work, Microsoft may not be able to hire the best and brightest to innovate anymore.

        Don't forget that typically those tech companies can pay the new grads significantly less than what they're really worth AND work them more than their older employees, this isn't that surprising that losing that market could hurt the company.

      • The business model for search still hasn't been proven. Neither Google or Yahoo has made a profit over their lifetime.

        The iPod is a nice product but it only competes with MS on a second-order basis. It's companies like Sony and Rio that should be concerned. Of course, having the leading product in one niche of the consumer electronics market doesn't make you a key player. Where are the Apple TVs, DVD Players, Digital cameras, etc?
        • " The business model for search still hasn't been proven. Neither Google or Yahoo has made a profit over their lifetime."

          I think that's incorrect... Both Google and Yahoo make most of their money on search. In fact, nearly all of Google's money is via search. Google has been profitable over their lifetime for sure...
    • Kai-Fu Lee and the iPod represent MS's biggest problems, they have nothing to worry about.
      If those were the only 2, you'd be right. But there are going to be more "Kai-Fu Lee" and "iPod" problems. Microsofts problem is that they didn't see either one until it hit, and now that they're openly wounded, its going to happen again and again.

      When's the last time you read about a company ceo throwing a chair just because somebody quit?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 18, 2005 @11:04AM (#13589509)
    Microsoft getting fat isn't news, Microsoft being fined half its cash reserves, further restricted and split into 2 would be news, good news.
  • yea right.. (Score:3, Funny)

    by cosminn ( 889926 ) on Sunday September 18, 2005 @11:06AM (#13589518) Homepage
    Next year it will introduce a new, more secure version of its Windows operating system called Vista,


    ROFL

    as well as an update to its Office suite, which includes Word and Excel.


    as opposed to previous versions, which only came with Access and Outlook.
  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Sunday September 18, 2005 @11:16AM (#13589560) Homepage Journal
    All that sounds like a comment I made yesterday [slashdot.org] (my definition of yesterday, which is as good as any other in a world with different timezones, is "before I slept"). The relevant text:


    I seriously think that Microsoft is currently at or over their peak. Their flagship called Windows has made it to the ocean called 'Internet', but is found not to be seaworthy. Malware is penetrating it at an alarming rate, and it's only a matter of time before it will sink. It remains to be seen if their next OS will be any better. At the same time, their Office software has about reached the point where no new features can be important enough to attract many new customers, and since they have pretty much the whole market, they can only go down from here.

    In both markets, they are receiving competition from opponents that they can't kill. Open source projects just won't die while there are still people using them. Right now, open source is still all potential and no real growth in the market that Microsoft is in. However, with cross-platform products like Firefox and OpenOffice.org slowly creeping in, it is only a matter of time until the benefits of jumping ship from Windows to Linux overcome the resistance, and then the self-sustaining system of platform lock-in will come crashing down.

    Whether or not Microsoft actually loses most of their market share, the truth is that they will be forced to innovate and forced to compete, both of which eat into their profits. The days of them being a virtual monopoly are numbered.
    • The fact that Microsoft may lose some market share in saturated sectors like operating system and the office suite doesn't really mean much. The gain of Firefox and Openoffice.org is not even 5%.

      What will matter to Microsoft is NOT the saturated markets in Office and Windows, but new markets. The future of Microsoft will depend on what new markets they can develop. Whether it is IPTV, or video games, or whatever, that's where the real future is...

      The middle-life that Microsoft is going through is na
  • by Brundylop ( 886427 ) on Sunday September 18, 2005 @11:17AM (#13589563)
    Even if Microsoft has slowed down, I'd be very suprised if they all of a sudden went belly-up.

    The increase of competition is a good thing, as companies have to make their products better than their competitors, and sometimes selling them at a cheaper price.

    I just wonder how many small companies with great ideas were too intimidated by Microsoft to put those ideas into action (a certain Simpsons episode comes to mind, no?)
  • by 00_NOP ( 559413 ) on Sunday September 18, 2005 @11:17AM (#13589564) Homepage
    Only this week /. posted an article about how vulnerable Firefox ('our' best hope for the majors) was. Linux on the desktop is as far away as it when I started using it four years ago (ask your non-techie friends), MS are still kings of the hill.
    Sure, our little guerilla band has got a bit stronger: MS know they aren't going to get rid of us, so they just hop to contain us - and so far they are winning.
    Indeed, the competition helps them with all that anti-trust stuff. Basically, I am not as optimistic about a free and open future for computing as I was even 18 months ago, though we have come along way since Byte declared Windows NT was the "death" of Unix.
    • ``Linux on the desktop is as far away as it when I started using it four years ago (ask your non-techie friends), MS are still kings of the hill.''

      It's all inertia now, and indeed that has been the case for years. Linux is simply a better option for many desktops (particularly office and school desktops). However, switching takes effort and retraining, and thus isn't worth it to many people. The distinctions between "good enough", "better", and "everybody should switch to" are very often overlooked, but the
    • I have different anecdotal evidence. My experience shows that especially within the last 3 months, inquiries about free and open source software have noticably increased at the forums I regular, which are not *nix strongholds (Slashdot notwithstanding).

      I am cautiously optimistic, both more "optimistic" and less "cautiously" than before.

      But again, our accounts are not very scientific analyses.
      • True. For some reasons the Windows geeks (as well as a few casual users) are flocking to Linux and the Linux geeks are flocking to Gentoo... It will be very interesting to see what becomes of this.
    • Linux on the desktop is as far away as it when I started using it four years ago

      I'm very sorry to say that it is even worse than that. I started using Linux in 1996, and then it was 'ready for the desktop in five years' time'. Now it's 2005 and Linux is still 'ready for the desktop in 5 years' time'. I'm now saving money for an iMac G5... Don't get me wrong, Linux is a fantastic OS, but even with KDE and all the userfriendliness that has been built around it, it still doesn't Just Work, the way Windows and
    • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Sunday September 18, 2005 @12:28PM (#13589863) Journal
      Linux on the desktop is as far away as it when I started using it four years ago (ask your non-techie friends), MS are still kings of the hill.

      I guess some people haven't been paying attention to their non-techie friends.

      Windows used to be "cool". Now, it's common knowledge that it sucks, it's inconsistent, unreliable, and a pain in the arse. Many of them have heard of Linux, and a few have even tried it.

      Here's my experience:

      For a while, my computer ran RedHat/Fedora, while my wife's computer ran Windows. Mine worked great, hers crashed often. With little time to spend fixing Windows hiccups, I finally just reloaded her ccomputer with Fedora Core.

      My wife, a real trooper, put out honest effort to get to know it. At first, she didn't like it. She couldn't find N or window X opened in annoying ways... Problem printing, etc. You know the routine.

      But, after using it for 6 months, she's an advocate! She's gotten familiar with the shortcomings (EG: not reliably playing Windows Media files) but more importantly, she's gotten familiar with the strengths, too. (EG: It works day in and day out)

      Her usual line goes something like: "It's not for everyone, and it's not perfect. It won't run Windows software, for example. But if you need your computer to just work everyday like it did yesterday, this is something you need to consider. What do you actually DO on your computer? Really?".

      Next thing I know, I'm installing Linux on another computer...

      Here's the funny thing: My parents recently got NAILED by Yet Another Windows Worm and my wife was espousing the benefits of Linux. Turns out their satellite receiver [dishnetwork.com] runs... Linux!
    • so they just hop to contain us - and so far they are winning.

      Tell that to China, Brazil, Germany, and Massachusetts.

  • by Monkelectric ( 546685 ) <slashdot@@@monkelectric...com> on Sunday September 18, 2005 @11:24AM (#13589592)
    People are worried about the growth of MS, which, were it to never grow again is still a company which makes a BILLION a month? By and standard thats still a HELL of a company.

    Or are people worried because they bought a stock which was far overvalued due to fervor and hype which was known to everyone at the time to be unstable, unsustainable, and a bad risk?

    • ``Or are people worried because they bought a stock which was far overvalued due to fervor and hype which was known to everyone at the time to be unstable, unsustainable, and a bad risk?''

      Probably. It wouldn't be the first time where people massively bought into overhyped stock, despite warnings from more sensible people, then sued when the stock collapsed.
    • by cowscows ( 103644 ) on Sunday September 18, 2005 @12:12PM (#13589800) Journal
      Well, there are a couple of ways to make money off of stock. The traditional way is to say, ok, I own a portion of the company, and I get a portion of the profits at regular intervals. These are called dividends, and they're nice.

      The other way to make money is by trading stock, basically hoping the price of your shares goes up so that you can sell it for more than you bought it. You can make a whole lot of money really fast this way if everything goes right. You can also lose a whole lot of money too. This is all well and good, but relies on consistent growth.

      The problem is that somewhere down the line, dividends ceased to be important to many people, and it's all about growth. Many companies don't even pay dividends anymore, instead just stockpiling all their cash if they make any money. Tech companies are all about this business model. Microsoft only recently paid its first dividends out. Now granted, even if you are receiving income from dividends on stock you own, growth is nice because it should mean more profit, meaning bigger dividends.

      So, like you said, it's not really necessary for constant growth to make a stock valuable. But dividends are a longer term investment, so they're unattractive to a lot of people. That being the case, the stock market is basically driven by growth, and the fact that we had a short period of ridiculous growth a few years back still has a lot of people's expectations out of whack.

      Granted, in reality, it's more complicated than this, but the biggest problem is just people's mindsets, and the get rich quick mentality. And since all these companies are competing for investor's dollars, they'll play the game however they can. Another factor that's led to accounting scandals.
      • These are called dividends, and they're nice...but dividends are a longer term investment, so they're unattractive to a lot of people.

        The big problem with dividends is that you are taxed on them immediately. Essentially, with dividends the government skims a percentage off the top every year, whereas if the corporation keeps the money and reinvests it to encourage growth, you should end up seeing that money returned to you in the form of higher stock prices, while avoiding the tax hit until you actually

    • That is the death knell for MS!

      you have to remember, MS gets rich by selling "MS" to businesses that install their products not by selling to consumers. They throw all their profits back into the pool to crank out more hype.

      The great fear and lothing in MS is that they'll be held to standards like Procter & Gamble or GM... who pay vast sums of real money to their stockholders EVERY quarter... like clockwork. MS is a VERY profitable company.. but they should be paying dividends about $1 per QUARTER,

  • by the bluebrain ( 443451 ) on Sunday September 18, 2005 @11:28AM (#13589617)
    "Apple's iPod" is only a "debacle" for Microsoft beacuse they decided to make it one. If they concentrated on making good software that plays well with other children, rather than defining each actual innovation in the wider marketplace as a threat to their core competencies - or rather, redefining their core competencies to include any actual innovation as it turns up in the wider marketplace - they might be a "mature" company in two senses of the word.
  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Sunday September 18, 2005 @11:33AM (#13589635) Homepage Journal
    Ok, so let's speculate for a bit. Assume that Microsoft's reign is over. They'll still be around for years to come, and they may stay a major player, but they won't be the f[r]iendly monopolist that they are now.

    What about Google, though? It seems they are showing many of the traits that made Microsoft so strong. They're relatively new, innovative, providing useful products to the masses for cheap, and attracting talented people by good working conditions (including high salaries).

    Where Microsoft dominated the world by virtue of virtually everybody using their OS and office suite, Google is getting hold of people through their Internet services; search, email, instant messaging, voice over IP, and videoconferencing all being key parts of the current and (near) future Interent and computing experience.

    There is also the risk of vendor lock-in; you can access your emails stored in Google Mail only as long as Google allows you to, their VoIP and videoconferencing services are currently only available to users of the proprietary Google Talk client (Google states that they will release protocol specifications, but not a hint as to when this will happen; even with the protocol specifications out there, it's still possible for them to block other clients), some key parts of their search technology are patented, making it difficult for competitors to match the efficiency, etc.

    Note that I am not saying Google is evil or will turn evil, but I am worried at the potential for doing nasty things. I remember the days when Bill Gates was every nerd's idol (except fringe figures like Mac-using nerds and the FSF); look where we are now. A wise person said it this way: "The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern."
    • I like google's products, but I don't really see them as being the biggest threat ever to MS. If MS does go down, Google will be but a small part of it. I think in the end it'll be more about MS's software being less appealing than the alternatives.

      Like you said, Google can only grow so much without hitting some of the same problems that MS has. Add to that the fact that Google has nowhere near the revenue that MS has thrived on, and I don't think their future is as entirely rosy as people like to think it
    • What about Google, though? It seems they are showing many of the traits that made Microsoft so strong. They're relatively new, innovative, providing useful products to the masses for cheap, and attracting talented people by good working conditions (including high salaries).

      The same can be said about many new companies. The fact any new company becomes strong and offers products shouldn't make them fodder for comparisons to Microsoft. The differences in starting circumstances are striking. Most notably,

    • Google is an advertising company.
      Microsoft is a software company with a small division that does advertising.

      Yes Google does interesting technology, but it's all tangential to their core business of selling ad-views and click-throughs. There's nothing about Google that will ever threaten MS's core markets.

      For the last 10 years, nobody's been saying "Yahoo is going to take out Microsoft", for obvious reasons. Google is the same business as Yahoo, just with sexier technology.

      (Similar argument about the iPod -
  • by RradRegor ( 913123 ) <rdarr1&adelphia,net> on Sunday September 18, 2005 @11:39AM (#13589659) Journal
    I've noticed in my time on this planet that aging organizations and software both show an unavoidable tendancy to bloat over time until they can no longer function and must be replaced.

    I'm not just harping on one company here, I'm thinking organizations in general. Just as individuals have a natural birth, aging, and death cycle, the same seems to hold true with other phenomena. Organizations become victims of their own success. They get larger and more unwieldy, and the presence of excess resources seems to create its own economy of waste. Internal empires form. Departments carve up the pie, and defend turf. As waste increases, the survival of the organization tends to trump whatever purpose it originally formed to serve. With hundreds or thousands of individuals depending on the status quo, or at least the continued existence of the organization, there is a convergence that takes place that makes one soul-less organization or government look much like the others after a while.

    Software bloat we all know about. Features get added by divergent interests who don't fully understand the limits of the paradigm, until the structure starts to sag and/or crumble under the weight. Loose ends and bugs multiply and begin to take on a life of their own, like cancer cells multiplying out of control.

    Sometimes organizations or programs can be "born again" and rise from their own ashes in a completely different form. But sooner or later, some kind of major destruction is inevitable, and maybe necessary.

  • Remember IBM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kilodelta ( 843627 ) on Sunday September 18, 2005 @11:57AM (#13589746) Homepage
    IBM went through similar growing pains.

    Their heyday was the 50's to the 80's and then the bottom dropped out of the equipment market. But IBM adapted.

    Microsoft shows some signs of adaptation with the X-Box line but I don't think it will be enough. The bigger they are, the harder they fall and it's usually 30 or so years of the good life, followed by the remainder being rough.
  • by toby ( 759 ) * on Sunday September 18, 2005 @12:46PM (#13589945) Homepage Journal
    minimsft [blogspot.com] discusses many of the internal issues in depth. In particular, the counterproductive employee ranking system [blogspot.com] (more [blogspot.com]), too many middle managers, and the unstable dumbass [blogspot.com] at the top.

    (Neil Blender [slashdot.org] cited this blog on the earlier M$ story [slashdot.org].)

  • by AutopsyReport ( 856852 ) on Sunday September 18, 2005 @01:15PM (#13590044)
    I heard the new exercise to remedy this problem consisted of clapping hands and the incessant yelling of "Developers! Developers! Developers!"
  • To MSFT is like GM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Sunday September 18, 2005 @01:20PM (#13590069) Homepage
    Back in the day GM ruled the automotive industry. In the 70's and 80's US car companies started turning out junk. After all, what was your alternative back then? You could rebel and buy a Ford or Chrysler, but they weren't any better than the GM's of the day.

    But that lack of quality plus the oil embargo encouraged consumers to try smaller, more fuel efficient foreign cars, specifically Japanese models.

    Consumers discovered that the reputation of Japanese cars being cheap and poorly made was not true. Not only did they get better gas mileage, but they were really reliable cars. My first import was a Toyota Tercel and the only things I put in that car over 100,000 miles were gas, oil, a set of tires and brake pads. Today you couldn't give me an American car, even though the imports are made here and most American cars are assembled elsewhere. Impressions last a long time.

    That's how I see MSFT. For years they were turning out crap and people are in the process of discovering that the alternatives are pretty good. I'm typing this on a Linux box. A few years ago I hadn't even heard of it. I'm never on the bleeding edge of technology and rarely even the leading edge. If I'm using Linux it's because it works. It works for me at home and, where appropriate, for my business customers.

    MSFT will still be around for a long time, but I believe the market will change to include more alternatives and those alternatives will have a following of their own. There are a lot of people walking around with a MSFT chip on their shoulder that they'll never forget.

    If it's one area MSFT has really fumbled it's inspiring customer loyalty. They're one of the few companies inspiring their customers to outright hostility. They've abused their market position by treating customers as a revenue stream. Most people will get tired of being porked after a while. We're there. MSFT traded short term quarterly gains for long term loyalty. That's what happens when bean counters run your company and Republicans run your country. And I believe people will remember a long time.

  • FUD (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hkb ( 777908 ) on Sunday September 18, 2005 @01:30PM (#13590107)
    Basically all this hubla about Microsoft's employee culture imploding is FUD. While everyone has things they hate about their job, you talk to most any MS employee and they love their jobs.

    It's as if all the tech writers got bored and turned this little Google/Microsoft fiasco into a big blown up epidemic.

    I do wish Microsoft would downsize a little and perhaps shed a little of its "running around like its head is cut off" way of marketing and developing products and not intercommunicating well enough between product groups. I can't even remember how many versions of Vista are slated for release, but its nuts.
  • In an interview [businessweek.com] very reminiscent of that other fool, [dailykos.com] Ballmer struggles to stay 'on message', repeats his key words and phrases out of context ('Innovation! Innovation! Innovation!') and generally makes a fool of himself.
  • Nine year old children can get that right. What does that say about Slashdot 'editors'?
  • No need to worry about future company profits.

    First they're going to make the same promise they've made for years and tell people that the latest version of Windows is going to be so much more secure than the previous version. And people will buy it. They they will buy the latest version of Office other necessary software packages.

    Then they intend to keep reselling software to people. That includes updated versions of Office to support DRM. Updated versions of Windows to support DRM. As the DRM "stan

  • Careful (Score:4, Funny)

    by asifyoucare ( 302582 ) on Sunday September 18, 2005 @07:46PM (#13592171)
    Microsoft need to tread very Kai-Fu Lee.

    Sorry.

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