Skip to comments.Microsoft’s Creative Destruction (Microsoft has become a clumsy, uncompetitive innovator)
Posted on 02/04/2010 9:25:12 AM PST by SeekAndFind
AS they marvel at Apples new iPad tablet computer, the technorati seem to be focusing on where this leaves Amazons popular e-book business. But the much more important question is why Microsoft, Americas most famous and prosperous technology company, no longer brings us the future, whether its tablet computers like the iPad, e-books like Amazons 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.
Some people take joy in Microsofts 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 its a highly repentant, largely accidental monopolist. 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. Microsofts Windows operating system and Office applications suite still utterly rule their markets.
The companys chief executive, Steve Ballmer, has continued to deliver huge profits. They totaled well over $100 billion in the past 10 years alone and help sustain the economies of Seattle, Washington State and the nation as a whole. Its founder, Bill Gates, is not only the most generous philanthropist in history, but has also inspired thousands of his employees to give generously themselves. No one in his right mind should wish Microsoft failure.
And yet it is failing, even as it reports record earnings. As the fellow who tried (and largely failed) to make tablet PCs and e-books happen at Microsoft a decade ago, I could say this is because the company placed too much faith in people like me. But the decline is so broad and so striking
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Author makes the following observations :
* Apple continues to gain market share in many products
* Microsoft has lost share in Web browsers, high-end laptops and smartphones.
* Despite billions in investment, its Xbox line is still at best an equal contender in the game console business.
* It first ignored and then stumbled in personal music players until that business was locked up by Apple.
* Microsofts huge profits $6.7 billion for the past quarter come almost entirely from Windows and Office programs first developed decades ago.
* Like G.M. with its trucks and S.U.V.s, Microsoft cant count on these venerable products to sustain it forever.
* Microsoft is no longer considered the cool or cutting-edge place to work. There has been a steady exit of its best and brightest.
* Microsoft never developed a true system for innovation. Some of my former colleagues argue that it actually developed a system to thwart innovation. Despite having one of the largest and best corporate laboratories in the world, and the luxury of not one but three chief technology officers, the company routinely manages to frustrate the efforts of its visionary thinkers.
Break up Ma Bell.......er....I mean.... Microsoft!
I don't know anyone who is "marveling" at the iTouch Gigantic.
Microsoft has too many people who don’t know how to program that are writing programs
simple as that
I have talked with them many times- even interviewed with morons who make simplistic judgements based on what THEY know instead of what you can bring to the table
I had a 20 minute conversation about how the sort delegate is implemented in C# - and I finally had to tell him that in 20 years of software development I have NEVER WRITTEN a sort algorithm from scratch and I would fire anyone who did- because they were not smart to find one already available.
This brought on another heated (on his part) discussion on how much smarter he was because he knew how the sort delegate worked until I asked him how many times HE had written a sort routine... (apparently it was never because he hung up on me)
All you have to do is look at how they are constantly re-inventing the wheel every 5 years when new products come out- and you can see that no one ever remember the evolution of how we got here.
XML is 70’s character reading technology wrapped in cool sounding jargon
Soon they will remember how that evolved into DBase databases... and we’ll get new relational table technoloy that mimics 1980 and 90 technology...and they will think it is a blinding flash of insight
In the 1980s IBM was leap-frogged by an agile Microsoft. Now Microsoft is looking a lot like IBM did then.
Has become? This makes it sound like a recent trend. In fact its been this way for yrs but a gullible/tech unsavy customer base and fawning tech press is only just now figuring it out.
There are a lot of reports that skeptics change their minds once they get their hands on the device.
BTW, I'm a skeptic - without Flash, or Java, or QuickTime VR, the iPad can't play back media that Apple pioneered - that is, VR scenes and VR object movies. And too many sites rely on Flash for core content. And HTML5 isn't anywhere near ready even on the most recent browsers to dethrone it.
But, still, even with those major issues, the iPad is supposed to be quite the device to use.
Considering how many truly innovative things Microsoft has gobbled up and assimilated, I find that a dubious statement at best.
They need to pull together to innovate and that isn't happening.
The thing is, they never have innovated anything (successful). Microsoft Bob and Clippy are true Microsoft innovations. Maybe Windows Genuine Advantage counts.
On the other hand, I do to have to concede to their success in a business plan I would never have dreamed that someone could pull off - repeatedly sell licenses to the same software to the same people over a period of years. Amazing ...
New versions of windows o/s only move everything around the ui and api, and pile on new completely unnecessary garbage, usually aimed at bundling features of anything remotely competitive with them into the o/s.
this makes plenty of work writing books, retraining, consulting for the ms industry.
ms bought the original dos, they did not write it.
when new technology comes out, like... let’s see... when the INTERNET came into widespread public use... ms _always_ initially _dismisses_ it as they work on accommodating it. they then release a first accommodating version that completely stinks. then, they begin _always_ to develop their own standards purposely and directly incompatible with the existing technology. it’s painfully obvious that they rely 100% on their windows monopoly, because even though their product will start to be incompatible and have worse functionality, “the masses” buy it because windows is forced on pc manufacturers who force it on an unwitting public.
ms always releases a first first version that is garbage, i.e., buggy and / or very annoying functionality, then, within a year releases virtually the same thing without the bugs and problems. those in the ms industry will always install their new products right away. the “fix” release then removes the sales resistance in befuddled customer’s minds, who think, “oh, that’s the better version to go to” and everyone who’s not an ms fan starts upgrading. the new versions in truth are completely unnecessary, as it’s just an o/s and at the end of the day it’s purpose is to run applications.
ms constantly includes higher-level application functions and whole applications bundled with their o/s, thereby forcing their applications on their whole o/s marketshare. if ms did not have the o/s marketshare that they do, they could never gather the same marketshare for their apps as the quality is just not there.
ms is very costly to use as a development platform, as things change every few years and applications have to be completely rewritten. of course, if this is built into your cost structure and your customer pays, and you don’t get too big, you can run your business fine.
ms seeks to eliminate any small software company that gets to large by either bundling a similar product with ms o/s or buying them out (very humorously depicted once on The Simpson’s). ms is quite happy to have small businesses who write custom apps using the ms platform, as they get more licensing fees from the end-user companies, but ms won’t let them grow into powerhouse software companies.
so innovation has been enormously hampered by ms.
they have never ever innovated anything, and they have held back virtually every field of endeavor for 30 years as people fight with blue screens and struggle to understand how things have changed in the “new version”.
which is why they can’t compete in the industrial-strength server market, where there are various o/s available where applications do not have be completely rewritten ever few years and the o/s is rock solid. it’s very recent that heavy-duty apps would even be considered without laughter to be written on the mickey-mouse win o/s.
as ms whole business model is based on the windows monopoly and this monopoly has fully taken all the market share it can, there has been no room for growth for ms for 10 years (20 if it were not for the 90’s boom due to web and y2k and erp all happening at the same time). which explains why the stock price values the company at about where it was 10 years ago.
i’m the most pro-american business guy you can find, and free-market, which is why i don’t even look to gov’t for a solution (since they have not a clue and billyopolist’s brain is light years ahead of the govt’s ability to even comprehend what he’s been doing, let alone defeat ms lawyers in court). too bad he never had the confidence to do things the right way, he’d be in a 100 times better position and so would everyone else.
like all monopolies, ms is simply slowly taking on water and is gradually losing it’s hold as other better options grow in the marketplace.
I've tried other software (browsers, graphic design, word processors), but find that I like MS's stuff better. I don't know if I'm just more familiar with the standard MS layout or what, but I can up and running with a piece of MS software quicker than others.
I use MS's Live Space for a web site. It's very "light". It would not work for a real, full-blown web site, but it works for what I want it to do. It is severely limited and I do need to be creative to work around the limitations I bump into, but it pretty much does what I want it to. I tried the Office Live web site and it seems to want to box you into something of their vision of it all - not much flexibility. Either that, or I'm trying to make it do something for which it was not intended.
I would like to take MS to task for destroying one game I truly liked to play: Access produced a golf game years ago called Links. Best PC golf game I ever played (I truly despise EA's attempt at a golf game, Tiger Wood's Golf). MS bought them out (I hope the owners made out like bandits!) and ran it into the ground. It was still a great game, but where did it go? I'd love for it to be reborn so I could play it again. No green fee! No lost balls! Mulligan when no one's looking!
Now we get to the part of the XBOX 360. I am not a fan of game consoles. I much prefer my trusty old PC, even though I only play a few games (TDU, RACE ON, SWAT4 - a truly tense game, as you have to try to arrest the perps instead of just shooting them!, and a little SimCity 4).
I do think consoles are the coming wave of video games. Look at how far they have come in the last 10 years. Game developers love making games for consoles. They don't have to worry about making all kinds of code to try to meet every type of CPU, GPU, sound card and RAM configuration out there. That takes time, and time is money. I see this when I walk into Best Buy. They used to have one whole long aisle rack, both sides, filled with PC software. Now it's just one small section.
We're going to break down and get a Wii because of the physical activity of the device. I want to get the Tony Hawk board and try that. My wife wants the exercise software, my daughter wants the dance stuff and my son wants the F-22 Raptor sit-in cockpit (just kidding!).
Still MS's software is relatively inexpensive. I'm not aware of anything they have to compete with Photoshop, but I use GIMP. It's free and it's very good. Some minor bugs, but you quickly learn to work around them. Photoshop is expensive and bulky with a steep learning curve. GIMP's learning curve wasn't all that smooth, but I found it easier than Photoshop's steep one.
All in all, MS isn't so bad. It's good to have companies out there competing with them to help keep costs down and innovation up. Good business all around.
End rant, and I know I talk too much . . . .
I didn't know Microsoft (MS) made tangible products (itablet?).
Lets see MicroSoft has about 85% of the market and Apple does not. The New York Times has not had a profit in years and is trying to charge for something nobody wants. What are the credentials of the host company? Maybe our writer is unhappy with the millions he made and then left behind because he was not around for the Windows7 roll out.
One of the thing I've noticed in our datacenter, is that the local MS fans have finally figured out how to actually make use of the hardware they use by using VMWare. It's actually funny to see the management PHBs who get all starry eyed when they are told that they've been able to get 40-1 consolidation on the VMWare environment.
Of course, they never question the years (decades?) of wastefulness it implies. How many millions of dollars have been spent on hardware, software, maintennance and everything else associated simply because the toy operating system they have been deploying for years couldn't handle more than one thing at a time.
What really galls is that they actually have zero appreciation for the fact that those of us on the Unix side of the house really don't see much savings when we virtualize servers because we've been actually using our hardware for years!
It's sad, really, when you think about the waste.
Micrsoft really isn’t a hardware company. Yeah they fiddle around with the X-box and Zune and some peripherals, but really criticizing them for not inventing the iPad first is kind of silly. They don’t make PCs, they don’t make servers, they don’t make laptops, why in blazes should they make tablets? That’s like hitting them for not inventing the blender, it’s not their product line.
Microsoft never was innovative. DOS was a simple piece of primitive software pretending to be an operating system, but it could fit on a floppy disk. IBM, afraid of being closed out of a growing market they had ignored, contracted for its use. IBM’s marketing strength made the PC and DOS huge winners. Microsoft was smart enough to hold onto the rights to the operating system, while IBM was stuck with the PC — all made with other companies’ technology. Microsoft then parlayed their near-monopoly position and purchased other developers’ software until they owned almost everything. Very good business management, no innovation.