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How Infighting Hampers Innovation At Microsoft 450

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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  • news flash (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hguorbray ( 967940 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @06:41PM (#31028108)
    Large institutions hamper creativity, innovation...

    -I'm just sayin'
    • Re:news flash (Score:5, Insightful)

      by drachenstern ( 160456 ) <> on Thursday February 04, 2010 @06:46PM (#31028164) Journal

      I would instead say "unintentional megacorp hindered by purpose-sprawl more than code-stink or feature-creep". Some large organizations inspire creativity. Granted not many.

      Also: first "frist psot" I've seen in a while that was actually OnTopic

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mcrbids ( 148650 )

        Yes, it's true - large organizations thwart innovation. And when you think about it socially, it's a good survival mechanism.

        Young guy does something successful. It works, and he ends up leader of the clan. Because it worked, it's a good idea to keep doing it. So a bit of arrogance on the part of the successful person is often warranted, even if it's not popular. Unfortunately, times have changed enough that change itself is much more highly prized than 30,000 years ago, but the evolved mechanisms are still

    • 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.
      • by mirix ( 1649853 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:18PM (#31028490)
        Too bad they didn't apply this system to their horribly lame animal themed ads.
      • 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!!!!!!!

      • rational ignorance (Score:3, Informative)

        by epine ( 68316 )

        About a year ago I had my Telus account switched to electronic billing. I tend to do my electronic banking in the wee hours. Half of my attempts to access my Telus account electronically resulted in text like this:

        Unfortunately, we were unable to process your request. Our site is currently experiencing technical difficulties. Please try again later or contact a TELUS Customer Service Representative at 666-6666. We apologize for any inconvenience.

        This was annoying, as the email notification does not include the balance owing. What I wanted was the email to contain an encrypted PDF of my paper statement so I never have to log onto their crappy web site. Nope, that's not possible.

        Finally I call up my innovation-loving Telus rep. to compl

    • 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] []

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

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        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.
        • 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.

          • Re:news flash (Score:4, Informative)

            by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Friday February 05, 2010 @12:24AM (#31030990)

            That wasn't due to innovation. That was plain old software piracy: they hired David Cutler from DEC, one of the authors of VMS, and stole its internals like a pirate robbing Spanish galleons. The resulting lawsuits are one of the reasons NT ran so well on Alphas: its internals had frankly been writen for Alphas originally by Cutler and the personal he hired away from DEC. Sadly, DEC thought they could take a lump settlement and continue to out-innovate Microsoft with their Alpha hardware and its upgrades, but Intel stole core technologies of the Alpha to make the Pentium.

            The result was the fundamentally crippled, by comparison, NT on Pentium. But it was so much cheaper and accessible for consumer grade products, and worked so much better with Microsoft's core office suite, that the results left DEC's "continuing innovation" on the scrap heap.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by drsmithy ( 35869 )

              That wasn't due to innovation. That was plain old software piracy: they hired David Cutler from DEC, one of the authors of VMS, and stole its internals like a pirate robbing Spanish galleons.

              So hiring someone who has ever worked anywhere else on any software is "software piracy" ? Guess that makes any remotely modern piece of software "pirated".

              The resulting lawsuits are one of the reasons NT ran so well on Alphas: its internals had frankly been writen for Alphas originally by Cutler and the personal h

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by hairyfeet ( 841228 )

            Why not? I would say they already [] have [] with Vista/7 due to the amount of changes they have done under the hood. While there was some growing pains with Vista (lets face it, it sucked) they seem to have "gotten it right" with Windows 7, from better security to better integration between apps like WMP 12 and Devices and printers and the Internet.

            And I wouldn't be surprised if XP Mode isn't a "trial run" to work out the bugs so that the required backwards compatibility can be delivered via VM integrated into t

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

        by R3d M3rcury ( 871886 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @09:20PM (#31029748) Journal

        That was my thought, too.

        Before Jobs returned, Apple was a collection of little fiefdoms who were working on their own "next big thing": QuickDraw GX, QuickDraw3D, Publish/Subscribe, OpenDoc, Open Collaborative Environment, OpenTransport, etc. Each of these little fiefdoms were shouting at the wind trying to get interest within Apple and with developers outside. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.

        Some groups were working on similar things, some groups didn't like the idea, or the people who were involved with the idea. Mac OS started becoming a collection of neat technologies with no real rhyme or reason behind any of it.

        The most notable thing Jobs did when he came back was chop up hardware. No more Performa 6600s competing with PowerMac 7500s, etc. But he also chopped a bunch of software projects (pretty much everything on the list above went away or was barely supported for compatibility purposes only) in going forward with Carbon.

        Microsoft is in a similar boat. You seem to have lots of engineers running around and some of them are doing interesting stuff. The problem is getting others in the company to go along. There isn't a "Steve Jobs" at the highest level to say, "We're all going to go along with this and, if you don't agree, there's a door over there with your name on it."

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by srealm ( 157581 )

        Having met some of the Adobe guys involved in the above rift between Adobe and Apple, I heard the Adobe side of the story.

        Basically Apple came to adobe and say they were only going to support Objective C, and Adobe had to re-write all their products in Objective C to support the Apple platform, and Adobe more or less said "I don't think so."

        There was more to it than that, and the rift went to the highest levels (big egos involved), an interesting tale. But basically Adobe was one company big enough with po

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rexdude ( 747457 )

        One response to this would be that Microsoft needs s/Ballmer/Jobs/g. But if you think about it, they actually need a Lou Gerstner [].
        IBM was more or less the same way as they are now during the PC/desktop times of the early 90s- stifled by bureaucracy and personal fiefdoms, increasingly irrelevant in the market, to the extent that there was talk of it being broken up. Gerstner transitioned it to focus on software and services as well, changed the corporate culture, and wrote a great book on pirouetting pachyd []

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I agree 100%. Small companies are agile, large ones falter under their own weight of numbers.

      This same lumbering inefficient behemoth effect can be seen at Dell, Alcatel-Lucent, AT&T, Microsoft, GM, Ford and a thousand other large corporates. Guess all that MBA and Management School stuff just may have been wrong!

      And the prime examples - today's Western governments, the US and UK taking the lead.

      The challenge for civilization in the 21st century is not Global Warming, but constructively rethinking Gover

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

        by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) <[ ] ['' in gap]> on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:45PM (#31029380)


        Let's look at companies like Mercedes, Nintendo, Research in Motion, Volkswagen, Walmart, and 3M. These companies are in fact very large and very innovative. The list goes on... Microsoft is a dysfunctional company, point blank! What is killing Microsoft is what the guy in the article said it was.

        • Walmart (Score:5, Funny)

          by Prien715 ( 251944 ) <> on Friday February 05, 2010 @12:09AM (#31030880) Journal

          Yeah, my God, WalMart is hugely innovative! Its employees are always seeking new ways of wearing jeans badly so their ass cheeks hangs out or mangling the English language to a degree that I preferred Japanese! I had no idea that these innovations were driven by top down inspiration by the yellow smiley face...I thought he just whistled and hip-checked price tags. Wait a moment! His whistle IS hypnotizing!

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by quanticle ( 843097 )

            At the same time, you have to admit that Wal*Mart is posting the highest retail growth numbers in the country, despite having annual sales that are greater than next four companies combined. The fact that they've been able to maintain this growth for such a long time means that they're doing something right.

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

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:19PM (#31028514)

      There's a kind of poetic justice here, with Microsoft's tactics of stifling competitors (rather than out-performing them) being used internally.

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

        by Dogtanian ( 588974 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:26PM (#31029206) Homepage

        There's a kind of poetic justice here, with Microsoft's tactics of stifling competitors (rather than out-performing them) being used internally.

        Indeed. I note that the article states

        Some people take joy in Microsoft's struggles, as the popular view in recent years paints the company as an unrepentant intentional monopolist. Good riddance if it fails. But those of us who worked there know it differently. At worst, you can say it's a highly repentant, largely accidental monopolist.

        My understanding was- yeah, Bill Gates may have been in the right place at the right time, and had the right connections- but so did a lot of people who run companies that are long gone and mostly forgotten.

        And the reason that Microsoft isn't being that Gates and MS *did* always have their future planned out rather than just small ambitions and being there at the dawn of a new industry for the fun of it. The article asserts otherwise, but doesn't back this up.

        I also don't like the vague air of revisionism (in the media generally) about MS now that they're no longer seen as the invulnerable monopolist of a few years back, with Google looking more "big bad" with every day, and Gates disposing of his billions.

        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, though some have said of MS that at least they were blatant and upfront about their desire to dominate the market, in comparison with Google.

        Still, that doesn't make them any better or more likeable, and as the parent says, it's quite fittingly ironic if they've suffered due to abusive internal competition.

        Article: why Microsoft, America's most famous and prosperous technology company, no longer brings us the future

        Well... I probably don't need to explain why this is stupid to your average Slashdot reader, but since when did MS *ever* bring us the future? They were *never* major on innovation; even if they managed to get a technology accepted into the mainstream- one that was normally innovated elsewhere- it was mainly due to their market dominance and everyone ending up using it anyway.

        MS-DOS? Not remotely innovative. The well-known story is that Gates snuck in under the radar to grab the contract for the IBM PC's operating system from Digital Research (developers of the then-dominant CP/M OS, and probable favourites for the job).

        Of course, Gates didn't actually have an OS, and then had to go out and buy one from a small software company []. Which was basically just an unremarkable workalike/blatant-ripoff (delete according to opinion) of CP/M anyway. That became PC-DOS/MS-DOS 1, of course, but you'll note that the interest here is in how Gates grabbed the contract, not in that totally unremarkable and uninnovative (rip)off-the-shelf OS.

        Or what about pre-emptive multitasking... ten years after the Amiga did it. Brilliant innovation.

        Though the article does a good job of explaining why MS seems to have (or have had) a lot of talented people working for them with relatively little to show for it.

        But the fundamental issue is that MS never got where they were through being innovators. They got where they were through aggressive business practices; the software was never that hot.

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

          by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @11:16PM (#31030526)

          MS-DOS? Not remotely innovative. The well-known story is that Gates snuck in under the radar to grab the contract for the IBM PC's operating system from Digital Research (developers of the then-dominant CP/M OS, and probable favourites for the job). Of course, Gates didn't actually have an OS, and then had to go out and buy one from a small software company []. Which was basically just an unremarkable workalike/blatant-ripoff (delete according to opinion) of CP/M anyway. That became PC-DOS/MS-DOS 1, of course, but you'll note that the interest here is in how Gates grabbed the contract, not in that totally unremarkable and uninnovative (rip)off-the-shelf OS.

          This is not entirely correct, although it is close. Bill Gates has successfully sold IBM's PC division on a couple of compilers for their new PC, but IBM didn't yet have an OS. They went to the CEO of Digital Research, but he was put off by IBM's boilerplate nondisclosure agreement (it may have been more than just an NDA, I don't remember exactly). There are a couple of different stories about how he responded to IBM's overture, but the end result was that the IBM guys felt like he didn't want to do business with them.
          Now IBM had decided to use a new chip from Intel at the core of their PC. There was no OS yet written to work on it. At the same time, a small company in Seattle was developing machines that used this new Intel chip. They needed an OS for it. One of their employees wrote a quick and dirty OS (QDOS) that would do for them to get their machine out the door and working. The plan being that if someone developed a better OS for the chip later they would buy it and start using it. I forget how Bill Gates learned of this OS, but he promptly went to this company and bought the rights to distribute it. QDOS was not a rip off of CP/M, but it had enough similarities that when Digital Research made DR-DOS, Microsoft couldn't stop them. I'm sure there are others on here are more familiar with the details.

          However, your main point is correct MS has never been an innovator (except maybe a bit with their compilers in the early days).

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          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

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by VGPowerlord ( 621254 )

            Shills don't need to demonize Google. Their own CEO has done a fairly good job [] 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.

  • 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 sopssa ( 1498795 ) *

      Well one that I could think of from recently is Microsoft Courier []. It seems quite innovative and the tablet I would like to have (iPad.. just meh). I really hope it becomes reality and the things TFA mentions don't happen to it. Then I could actually say MS innovates.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by argent ( 18001 )

        Yes, I did say "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." TFA was complaining that Microsoft had *become* mired down in infighting. Implying it had been better in some golden age I can't quite remember.

        And most of what Microsoft Research does never gets from the "car show" to the "showroom floor".

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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.

  • And cooperation would make Microsoft more competitive? This is a clear example of how competition doesn't produce excellence, cooperation does. If competition really DID produce excellence, then all companies would be organized with multiply redundant, competing internal departments. Obviously, that's not the case: internally, companies function cooperatively, and those that foster too much internal competition ultimately fail.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sopssa ( 1498795 ) *

      Exactly. Cooperation should be kept inside company, and fight with competition with other companies. Work together, but have enemies that push you to work better. Sadly, people are people and mostly care about their own goals.

    • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:00PM (#31028304)

      Competition does produce excellence when all competitors are engaged in positive activities, like building competing products the best they can to see who's is better.

      Competition falls apart when the competitors resort to sabotage, instead of simply doing their best in a fair competition.

      I'm actually shocked that I'm about to do this, but I'm going to bring up a sports analogy: people like to watch sports games, which are competitions between two (or more sometimes) teams or people. Audiences like fair competitions. But if the competitors start cheating (like with steroids) or using sabotage (like Nancy Kerrigan), audiences don't like that, and if it happens too much, the sport starts losing audiences and falling apart (like baseball). Along these lines, no one's going to watch a sports game that only involves cooperation, instead of competition. Of course, there is one exception to this rule: hockey. Sabotage is perfectly acceptable there: teams frequently get a disposable "bully" player to pick a fight with one of the opposing team's best players to take him out of action for a while.

      The problem with competition inside companies, even if it didn't involve sabotage, is that it consumes a lot of extra resources which could be spent on more profitable activity, such as producing more products for sale. Decently-run companies typically already have all the competition they want, and more, from their competitor companies, and wouldn't dream of creating even more unnecessary competition within. Only a truly stupidly-run company would do this. Unfortunately, some companies have giant unstoppable cash cows that let them waste tons of resources on this kind of idiocy.

      • by pow2clk ( 1040104 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:24PM (#31028558)

        ... using sabotage (like Nancy Kerrigan) . . .

        Not to distract from your overall point, which is well taken, but in the interest of fairness and accuracy, I feel I must point out that it was Tonya Harding who sabotaged Nancy Kerrigan.

    • In the entertainment space, companies are organized into competitive divisions. Each division has its own bottom line, and compete for resources within the company.
    • And cooperation would make Microsoft more competitive? This is a clear example of how competition doesn't produce excellence, cooperation does.

      That depends. Cooperation is all well and good if you're cooperating towards a decent goal. But if you're cooperating towards a flawed goal, then that only increases the rate of your failure. Ultimately, you need vision to choose what goal you want to work towards. I think that is what has been lacking at Microsoft - lately they've just been taking a shotgun approach, just try whatever and see if it works.

      With regards to the competitive aspect - competition can produce good results. But it has to be worthwh

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

      by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd DOT bandrowsky AT gmail DOT com> 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.

  • The goal at any large corporation is to leverage their market position, which in technical terms is "fuck-ton huge." They're way past the innovation stage, except there they have to be Zune is a good example. They came up with a solid product pretty quickly when they put their minds to it. Sure, they're getting their asses kicked, but it's a good product.
    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I think a lot of the problem is that the "goal" never really was innovative products, it was always a businessey goal of world domination. Ballmer was B-school all the way, Gates was the son of a lawyer. These weren't innovation guys, they were make money and win guys, which is why its always been nearly transparent that their goal is domination via monopoly.

      And chances are this was the core culture at Microsoft at the management level -- they hired really smart people who thought the same way, and I'm su

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by RichM ( 754883 )

      They came up with a solid product pretty quickly when their pensions were threatened.

      Fixed that for you.

    • Solid as a sponge (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SuperKendall ( 25149 )

      Zune is a good example. They came up with a solid product pretty quickly when they put their minds to it.

      Wouldn't a much more "solid" product have been a device that wasn't aimed right at a rapidly collapsing market and instead was ahead of the game?

      A zPhone around the time the Zune came out, using XNA to program it - that might have been something. It could have leveraged stuff they had on hand very quickly to at least stave off the iPhone. Instead they have a tiny fraction of a shrinking standalone medi

  • Why innovate? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fractal Dice ( 696349 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @06:48PM (#31028200) Journal
    1. profit 2. ??? 3. innovation
    • by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `todhsals.nnamredyps'> on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:32PM (#31028672) Homepage Journal

      Actually, it's more like this...

      1. Profit!
      2. Try to exterminate competition
      3. Realize it doesn't work against Google
      4. Throw chairs
      5. Litigate
      6. Realize other products like Firefox are eating your market share, DESPITES your efforts to monopolize the market
      7. Patent troll
      8. Realize people aren't buying your FUD
      9. Realize you have to GPL some of your products because they found out you plagiarized some code
      10. Throw more chairs
      11. Realize how the media are turning against you
      12. Get back in the bandwagon
      13. Fire Ballmer
      14. Buy chairproof shields for your buildings
      15. Innovate


      13b. Invest more in the XBOX dept.

      16. Profit!

  • by argent ( 18001 ) <peter@slashdot.2 ... m ['6.t' in gap]> 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.

    • 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 pe

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        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 produ

    • by Greg Hullender ( 621024 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:13PM (#31028450) Homepage Journal
      Actually I'd claim that the real problem with Pocket PC and Tablet PC (and I worked on both products) was that they predated cheap, universal wireless communications. The effort to send a text message from a cell phone is much greater than any of the input methods on either of those devices, yet millions of people do it all the time. That wireless network totally changed the value proposition of one of these devices, and before that, they just weren't worth the trouble.

      In plain terms, the isolated Tablet was little more than a crippled laptop, and the isolated Pocket PC was almost completely useless. Attach them to a network, though, and they become something magical. Something none of us working on them was wise enough to foresee.


      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by argent ( 18001 )

        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

  • When you can wait for others to do so and then copy what works.

  • rip-offs (Score:3, Informative)

    by pydev ( 1683904 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @06:57PM (#31028290)

    ClearType had plenty of prior art, so I don't think it counts as significant innovation.

    TabletPC wasn't just a "me too" project, Microsoft actually actively sabotaged their competitors to drive them out of the market and then tried to grab the market for themselves (and failed).

    So, if these are the kinds of "promising innovative technologies" that fail at Microsoft, let's just all say "good riddance".

  • I haven't RTFA but I dont feel microsoft is losing market share in high end laptops... Linux on laptop is mainly provided on netbooks which I won't call high end laptop.

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

    by JustNiz ( 692889 )

    >> "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.

    • Clippy! (Score:5, Funny)

      by garyisabusyguy ( 732330 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:15PM (#31028460)

      'nuf said

  • I work there now... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:01PM (#31028318)

    I work at MS now. It's a great job for solid steady employment, but it's definitely not the place to go for innovation. Every department is run by high rolling MBA types, most of who were liberal arts majors in college, who go out on extravagant "off site" meetings where they wave around marketing studies to each other to determine the minimum amount of features and quality assurance to put into our products to maximize profit, as if running technology business were the same as running a 50's era factory. Making the product "better" or producing something you have pride in comes secondary, and no consideration is given to the second and third order effects their decisions have on the overall health of the company or its products.

  • by FurryOne ( 618961 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:02PM (#31028334)
    Microsoft has become the Company they scorned in the 90's... IBM. I wonder how many IBM'ers are laughing at Microsoft now that the shoe is on the other foot?
  • 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.


  • 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.

  • Is it too much effort to spell properly even in the damn summary? Surely the story has "threatened" spelled correctly? I'm noticing more and more that spelling nowadays is like food seasoning - you just need to sprinkle some of it around, doesn't matter where it falls.

    (Wasn't there a story earlier this week about declining standards?)
  • by U8MyData ( 1281010 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:11PM (#31028432)
    And this notion suprises anyone? It's not unlike any large family where one kid stuffs a sock in anothers mouth, someone taddles on Johnny, or another dumps their sister from the wagon. Turf wars exist everywhere; the challenge is to minimize them. But... How do you do that when competition is king? Where wining the battle is put before what is good, just, or honorable? Just asking?
  • by v(*_*)vvvv ( 233078 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:36PM (#31028708)

    It is my understanding that it is common belief and practice to motivate employees by creating a competitive environment. But a lot of companies take this to mean "within the company". Well, if you create a win lose situation, there will always be losers, and if it is all happening inside the company, you're forcing everyone to concentrate on fighting with one another, and inflicting harm to other parts of the company. In biology, this would be a disease.

    And in any great competition, you will always have your dirty players, your cheaters, and those who thrive at politics and manipulating the minds of those around them. This is a lot of wasted energy that otherwise could be put towards improving something or creating value within the business. Not to mention, true craftsmen thrive on isolation and focus, and are easily slain with swords. That is why you should never pit your sales department (soldiers) with your dev department (architects), because if you've hired the right people your sales department will always win.

    At the end of the day, it is up to the "parent" to know what they are doing, and to put up the walls that help channel energy in all the right directions. Soldiers go outside the company to fight their wars. Developers just sit back and fight deadlines.

    If you do compete, compete with your competitors. If you do have internal competitions, make sure no one loses. You can make it a win-win, or just a single win, situation, like rewards for certain targets. But never leave room for open politics or cat fighting within departments or between employees. Just create a total dictatorship where there is one leader who knows what they are doing, and is responsible for everyone else. Democracies may allow everyone to stand equally, but they are the worst at getting anything done. And no one needs to be equal in the workplace.

  • Software Darwinism (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:39PM (#31028760)

    I once knew a guy who worked at Microsoft, and after his stock made him enough money to no longer have to worry about bills, he left so he could focus on what he enjoyed. One thing he told me that many people don't understand about Microsoft is that the company *wants* its teams to treat each other as competitive threats, because it allows a sort of "software Darwinism" - his words not mine - to take place. As a result, he said that teams don't tend to work each each other unless there is a clear net benefit for them, because their jobs - and thus their ability to feed their families, etc - is on the line otherwise. That also means they tend to want to work on "safe" products.

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:16PM (#31029116)

    This happens a lot with any large company where revenue is dependent on keeping a few cash cow products generating income. First, you don't want to do anything to upset what's making you money, so you start really playing it safe. Vista was a horrible flop, but Microsoft spent a ton of time and money polishing it up and rolling out Windows 7. But imagine Microsoft throwing out all the 20 years of Windows backward compatibility and totally starting over. It won't happen until the product absolutely cannot be supported anymore. Windows 7 including "XP mode" is a really good example - they desparately want to avoid angering enterprise customers who are still running custom software that relies on Windows 98's quirks 12 years later. Heck, there's still a couple of places I know running the core of their business using a 16-bit screen scraper app and an equally-old terminal emulator!

    Second, you have the organizational problem. Microsoft is huge, so huge that enterprise customers need a Technical Account Manager just to handle their support calls and make sure they can find resources. I know they have a Research arm, but I can't see how an individual developer's idea might possibly make it high enough up the food chain to make much difference. To make things worse, the management structure is probably so deep within product lines that multiple product VPs are clamoring for Ballmer's attention. These guys are fighting for their jobs, so I imagine there's tons of poltics involved. I would bet that early-90's Microsoft was a lot more collaborative.

    I definitely see Microsoft progressing towards IBM and Oracle territory as far as products go. They'll deliver nice safe products for business, but the consumer will be left out. XBox is another story...but just look at the mess that is Zune!

    I've actually worked for large organizations, both IT and non-IT. (I haven't worked for a software company.) I can tell you that smaller organizations are better, up to a point. Once you get too small, say in the medium business category, you have to deal personally with a potentially psychopathic owner or CEO. If they're benevolent, it's great, but most entrepreneur-y types are nuts to begin with, and tend to treat employees like "the help." But once you grow too big, such that communication becomes a problem and politics start entering into every decision, the situation can be just as bad.

    But yeah, I can't see Microsoft creating another "category-killer" product with their current structure. My dealings with them as a Premier Support customer have been takes them several days to admit that a problem exists, log it, and "officially" tell me that they're working on a hotfix.

    I got to see this first-hand in my last job. The place started off like a startup, got big, and all of a sudden people were doing the CYA thing that I've seen all over the large-business world. Everyone was way too panicked about getting chewed out by our crazy CIO to be focused on doing good work.

  • 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?

  • by LibertineR ( 591918 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:46PM (#31029390)
    Every single disgruntled former Microsoftie who's pet project got canned, writes this same fucked up article. The same false 'innovation' premise, bla bla fuckin bla.....

    First, lets establish that Microsoft (I am a former Microsoft employee myself) couldn't give a crap about innovating, its an exercise best left to those unconcerned about profits. Those of us who succeeded at Microsoft understood that our job was how to create/copy/simulate/obfuscate in the name of market leadership.

    Its so tiring to see so many still willing to attach these lofty goals like 'innovation' to what is a really simple business challenge. Nobody (well a few, but they always leave to write these crappy articles) takes their Microsoft check to the bank feeling guilty and with less self-esteem because their high-marketshare product line isnt innovating the fuck out of technology.

    Remember the line about the bear: "I dont have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you"?

    That is how it is at Microsoft. I worked in the Exchange group, and later Visual Studio. Our job was NOT to come up with mind-blowing shit that glowed in the dark, it was to build products that give people reason to buy ours instead of THEIR's. Exchange never had to be slick, it just had to be better than Lotus Notes. SIMPLE.

    Was Exchange innovative? Fuck no. Was it better than NOTES? Fuck yes.

    That is the software business. We were never about design awards, and "oh we are so forward thinking", and all that shit.

    Microsoft is, was, and always will be about profit for shareholders, bitches. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • by jejones ( 115979 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @09:40PM (#31029912) Journal

    "...when the competition becomes uncontrolled and destructive." --TFA

    TFA gives examples such as the head of the Office team expressing his dislike of tablet computers by refusing to integrate Office with the tablet UI, or the fellow who would support ClearType, but only if the personnel who developed it were put under his management.

    I find this insight highly ironic. Hey, they were only emulating MS's behavior with respect to its competition, right?

  • 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.

  • by MrCrassic ( 994046 ) <deprecated AT ema DOT il> on Thursday February 04, 2010 @10:16PM (#31030174) Journal


    But the much more important question is why Microsoft, America’s most famous and prosperous technology company, no longer brings us the future

    Microsoft never really innovated per se; they mostly marketed and promoted lesser-known technologies (CP/M as DOS, OS/2 as Windows) and tweaked them heavily to make them business-friendly. Gates, Ballmer and crew got ridiculously lucky too, but that's another story (which predates me anyway).

    Good riddance if it fails.

    Not quite. Imagine if Apple came to the forefront. We'd all have to be running THEIR hardware and be completely subservient to their business model, which is secretive and limiting at best. Perhaps Apple would be even more draconian with competition out of the picture. At least I can install Windows on any PC and expect it to work; can't say the same for OS X (and don't count Hackintoshes either; they aren't supported!).

    It employs thousands of the smartest, most capable engineers in the world. More than any other firm, it made using computers both ubiquitous and affordable...Microsoft has become a clumsy, uncompetitive innovator. Its products are lampooned, often unfairly but sometimes with good reason.

    Same story for IBM, Intel et al. They each have a market which they completely dominate in (IBM in the mainframe and support space; Intel in the microprocessor space). At that point, they don't need to innovate unless they really want to...and if times get really tough and enough loopholes exist, those companies can buy out their competition (Microsoft/IBM) or steamroll them (Intel vs AMD).

    While Apple continues to gain market share in many products, Microsoft has lost share in Web browsers, high-end laptops and smartphones.

    But the key thing to keep in mind is that Microsoft's bread and butter isn't in the consumer space. Like IBM, Microsoft stays afloat by marketing mostly to the business sector, who not only has (much) more money to give, but is also much more resistant to change. In fact, Microsoft spends TONS and TONS of money figuring out how to best cater their business customers by running all sorts of research, field tests and such. (A good example of this is the Ribbon interface in Office 2007, which was the result of an academic study looking to figure out how people doing work interface with GUIs best.)

    Special attention should also be placed on Apple's main consumers. Where is one more likely to see iPhones and Macbooks: at a posh cafe in New York City or in a farm in Tulsa, OK? I'll make the postulation that the core of Apple's audience is young folk who want something simple, svelte and integral to their lifestyles. While there are certainly diehards and fanboys, many of those folks will jump to the "next big thing" just like they did from PCs to Macs (or regular smartphones to iPhones or whatever) just because it's big and happening. Sure, there are lots of youths in the US, but their buying power is unmatched to even a few of the top (or middle) companies on the Fortune 100.

    The article is an interesting read, but I think the author misses the business motive behind today's Microsoft. Back when Microsoft started (which, again, predates me), computers were constantly innovating. I'd even argue that computers were still innovations at that point, since Microsoft gained popularity at a time when computers were just starting to move from the mainframe room to the security's desk. I think the biggest mistake that Microsoft made was not paying enough attention to the importance of the Internet over the last few years. Sure, they'll be coming out with Office 2010 and Office web apps, and they already came out with Bing, but they are still playing catch up when they could've taken this space by storm years ago...

In English, every word can be verbed. Would that it were so in our programming languages.