Source Window7news Website.
On February 4th 2010, *Dick Brass, former Vice President at Microsoft, wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times about the state of the union, the union being Microsoft. It was not a pretty picture that he painted. *No innovation, too much internecine warfare, very few successful products…these were some of the complaints laid down by someone who had worked at the worlds largest software company for years.
His biggest complaint centered on the fact that the most succcessful products were conceptualized decades ago. Like the car manufacturing alternates, GM, for one, who relied on trucks and SUV’s to make the case for profits, Brass charges that true innovation has been stifled from the inside.
At this site, however, there have been numerous posts about the growth of*Windows7, touch screen innovation, Browser modifications, and other technology changes, all coming from Microsoft. It is hard to reconcile the charges that Brass makes with the things we read about the Microsoft does. It does fail, take*Vista, but it bounced back within less than four years with Windows 7.
The other charge that was made was that true hardware innovation has come from competitors of Microsoft. Apple, Blackberry, and other companies have run away with the IPhone market; that’s true. But Microsoft has not pursued the*hardware*market, not in the way that Brass would like to see.
But it is also true that many of the software innovations have been implemented by Microsoft. Touch screen technology is now coming of age because of what Windows7 is capable of doing. *But there are other software innovations that Microsoft has done.
Take the XML innovation. A small Canadian company sued Microsoft, and won, over patent infringement in the XML implementation in*Office*2007. Yet it is precisely the fact that Microsoft has used XML in so many products that this technology is now more widely available. This is not to excuse or forgive Microsoft for the patent infringement problem, but it goes to show that without Microsoft, the XML technology would not be widely used.
Many will no doubt say, that Microsoft has squashed the competition unfairly or illegally, and it deserves to fail. Many of those issues have a grain of truth to them. But I’m reminded of J.D. Rockefeller in the late 1800’s when he organized, and later monopolized the oil industry. If you joined him you made money, if not he squashed your company and went belly-up. Microsoft probably did something like that in the 80’s and 90’s. Forced the competition to become partners, or Microsoft simply stole the technology if it couldn’t buy it. Undoubtedly this lead to the US government, and later European governments to go after them. But on the other hand, a lot of companies became very successful using Microsoft products. Just ask Dell, HP, and a host of other PC makers which are reporting sales notwithstanding the present day economy.
Many of the problems that Brass talks about are probably true, but that may have to do more with Steve Ballmer not being the tech guy that Bill Gates was. Ballmer is a good*manager, but a visionary, no he is not. His stockholders are probably very happy with him, in the same way that the stock holders at GM or Ford were happy for decades. But look what happened there.
Brass makes the complaint over and over that innovation is lacking at Microsoft. With that I would have to agree. Innovation is the one element that must be maintained, or you are stuck in the past selling typewriters over and over again.
You can read the New York Times article*Microsoft’s Creative Destruction.