Sunday, April 24, 2005

Points of view of Microsoft's Health

Points of views from all sides to round up right quick:

Vic Gundotra - taking up the space left behind by Lenn? Anyway, Vic has an optimistic post In defense of the company I love where he calls out why things are great and only going to get greater. A snippet:

I'm working on software that is going to touch virtually everything I can see out the window of this plane. Almost every home, police station, hospital, store, school and church is running our software today - and Longhorn is going to make things a lot better in a lots of ways.

The challenge I see, Vic, is explaining all the great things in Longhorn to those people in the police station, hospital, store, school, and church so that they can get behind adopting Longhorn vs. feeling that it's something to be foisted upon them. I will tip my hat to the requisite hat-trick needed to conjure up the tangible benefits of Longhorn that isn't built in a comparison of what's wrong in XP and right in Longhorn. Show us how it directly saves us time and makes out life better. Folks are happy enough with the Jenga tower that is XP. Why go and switch that for a new set of blocks?

One place to start: how about making Jeremy Wright less disappointed: My Disappointment With Microsoft

A deeper view of Microsoft from Rick Segal that's a very nice read: MSFT: They're playing taps again (wasn't me - I don't even know how to play a kazoo) (short follow-up). Snippets:

The point I'm making is that Microsoft has to change or die and they know it.


In my view, Microsoft is not the walking dead, nor a wounded animal, nor in any kind of trouble today.  In my view Redmond is struggling to take the company and the millions of existing customers into the next era of computing.  That is a fairly tall order.  It's easy to just say, new product X leaves the old one behind. That isn't cool to the customers of today.

And a big point: Microsoft must change. I agree, change is coming. Change is either going to be something that happens due to deep intellectual insight by our executive leadership or something that will be forced upon us due to desperation and paranoia about survival.

From my point of view, we need a big huge disruptive reorganizational change that blow apart the executive fiefdoms that have allowed so many people to work on so many cancelled projects and never-ever ship profit making software products. And easily identify 10% of the employee base that we can move on to let them contribute to companies that are a better fit for them. Due to goofs, a reorganization of some-sort will no doubt happen, if only to relevel the playing field and obscure any comparison between past performance and current performance of product groups.

A good use of "shareholder" money? Bribe, er, entice these ineffective contributors with a goodbye compensation package. Summer's coming up and who wouldn't want six months pay to let them look for that next job?

Finally, Microsophist kicks in with another point of view from a Microsoftie and what's going on within Microsoft. Atom feed is here: http://microsophist.blogspo . It takes a while to build up a series of posts to define a point of view and best of luck to Microsophist to contribute a defining voice. A snippet:

Things are amiss at Microsoft. Some of the problems are new. Many have been around since the beginning but no one noticed or cared because they were too distracted by the piles of money they were making and that rapidly approaching retirement date.

If you work at Microsoft, you should know what I'm talking about. If not, well, you must be pretty easily distracted. Or you're a VP. Or a kid we just hired out of college.

Now you. Yes, you... you incredibly good looking smart devil you. What ever point of view you have, pro, con, whatever, please take a moment to contribute. Contribute, whether between commenting or posting in your blog or posting within an anonymous blog (for a good reference, go to the EFF guide to safe blogging). Or beyond blogs and communicate your point of view to editorials or fund-investors in Microsoft. It would be a delightful short-term result, for me, if some of our hard questions and issues actually start bubbling up into the common discourse and begin being directly asked of the executive leadership. And they gave thoughtful answers. And even better, began thoughtful change.


Anonymous said...

>>we need a big huge disruptive reorganizational change<<

I think if I were tasked with making a snap judgment in support of this objective, I would....split off IE into a separate company.

Anonymous said...

Please do. IE: goodbye, good riddance. While you're at it, take media player too. Hey, how about MDAC, anybody willing to take it?

You want big and disruptional (I made that word up)? Get rid of Jim Allchin, David Cole, Steven Sinofsky, David Vaskevictch (what DOES he do?), and the rest of that level of executive and get some new blood that can see past the end of their noses. Oh, won't happen. My bad.

Anonymous said...

Good luck. Why should they change, though? They have a PILE of cash that will protect them from the market for years.

And there are boatloads of VPs and directors running around.

How many cancelled projects can you have before you realize you're just not a focused company?

Anonymous said...

Rather than looking to subjective arguments pro/con how about looking at objective data like tonight's Q3 earnings report?

- Client growth = 2%
- IW growth = 2%
- MSN growth = -5%
- Servers & Tools = 12% (respectable)
- Bus Solutions growth = 3%
- Home & Entertainment growth = 12%
- Mobile growth = 31%

In other words, 3 of MSFT's 4 profitable divisions (including the two biggest) are showing either nearly flat or negative growth. In putting in its particularly dismal performance, MSN actually grew advertising revenue by a whopping 4% (I shit you not). What did GOOG and YHOO report again? Was that 50-100%+? Other "highlights" touted included Mobile's 32% growth. But hey, isn't the market itself growing at about that rate and didn't MSFT actually lose 5% marketshare despite that "growth"? (see Then there's Bus Sol - do these guys get the record for screwing the pooch or what? Let's see now, SAP as the dominant player in the mature end of the market reports 16 growth and these dickheads as relatively new players in a mostly untapped market grow by 3%? So much for Raikes' idiotic pronouncement that this would be a "10B division by the end of the decade" and kiss goodbye to any fantasy of this being an engine of growth or profitable anytime soon. Luckily, servers showed strength again albeit less so than last Q - at least MSFT is still firing on one cylinder. Of course, mgt ended the call with the usual optimism saying that next year growth will be better at ~10%. Is there anyone stupid enough to actually believe that? Sorry folks but this Q showed once and for all that the market was right and MSFT management is full of crap: GROWTH IS EFFECTIVELY OVER AT MSFT. Within 1-2 more Q's that's going to be apparent to all because Client and IW are going to continue breaking down. When Server fades too - as it almost surely will, then MSFT will head to the low teens. I think we know now why Connors left last Q and sold the bulk of his options at that time - his mama didn't raise no fools. Meanwhile, Ballmer/Gates tell the world that the future's so bright they've got to wear shades and mini's please for proactive change go largely unheard. Pathetic. Time to stop fighting the market and just short this POS into the ground...

M. Simon said...

How about looking at software quality.

Now I can understand why from a business point of view Microsoft would want to design bloated, buggy software, run on crippled hardware.

It is then a cash cow for Microsoft and a barrier to entry for hardware companies.

But look at the costs for the rest of us. Context switches that make the machine "dead" for up to 20 or more seconds.

I blame it all on stack frames. A truly stupid use of the stack.

A two stack machine is much more efficient. Context switches can be microseconds not seconds. etc.

10X to 1,000X speedups are possible by fixing the software problem.

The hardware/software industry took a wrong turn a long time ago.

There will come a day when this gets sorted out. It may be here quite soon. Once the speed of light becomes a significant impediment smaller simpler processors will be required to achieve maximum possible speed.

Anonymous said...

Visual Joke For MS Operating System Code-Named Longhorn:

State that "Longhorn will be just fine after":

"MS implements Service Pack 1" while using your left hand to simulate rapid growth of one long, curved horn out of the left side of your head followed by:

"and also Service Pack 2, Rev. 2.2" while using your right hand to simulate the similar growth of the other horn.