Thursday, September 28, 2006

Rebuilding Microsoft in Wired Magazine

Over nine years ago, Wired magazine ran a front-page cover article about Apple. Specifically, how Apple was on the verge of collapse, needed some hard praying, and perhaps needed to take a dose of the 101 ways to save Apple. It's quite the nostalgic read.

And the cover was precious:

Okay, I know it's asking too much for folks to get down and pray for Microsoft's resurgence, though I'm sure there are more than a few shareholders putting in a load of prayers for the stock price.

The most recent Wired, 14.10, has the article Rebuilding Microsoft by Fred Vogelstein. It's like the winds of change blowing over a turning tide. Mr. Vogelstein's article is looking past the reports of employee moral and issues with bureaucracy and review model curves and focuses on what path Microsoft is on to get out of the innovator's rut and back into the competitive game. And Live services and Mr. Ozzie are front-line-and-center.

Mr. Barr has a take on Ray Ozzie's Company Meeting talk, the future of Windows Live, and this Wired article, too (yeah, there are a couple of boo-boos in the article).

What's interesting to me about this article in Wired - which I put down as a tech-community influencer magazine - is that it's a public acknowledgement that Microsoft is perhaps turning it around (I can hear the bubbling sounds from Slashdotters frothing mouths about now). Now, we'll probably not admit we had a problem to be turned-around until we're smack-dab in the middle of the solution, but I find a take like this encouraging. I still believe there's a lot of work, and if Mr. Ozzie ends up equipping us with a 21st century super-duper sports-engine, I think it's still important to ensure our Microsoft Coupe doesn't have four-flat tires to go with it.

For instance: with all the organizational flattening going on, I'd like to see a return to the celebration of the individual contributor. You shouldn't have to decide you're going to leave a path of blood to reach Partner-level in order to be a success at Microsoft. Let's get back to empowering the front-line folks with decision making and when they make fantastic decisions shower them with rewards and kudos. I'd like to hear less about the no-doubt Partner-level employees joining Microsoft as strategic acquisitions and how Microsoft internally is aggressively developing talented, entrepreneurially groups and people. Super stars should come from within and be celebrated by the internal and external community. And that's a hot recruitment story.

The fact that is not happening is a flat, blown-out tire.


58 comments:

Al said...

I'll believe it when I see it. Until then, I just see the entity I watched move with glacial speed for the last five years.

Once you leave, it is apparent how much more quickly the rest of the industry moves.

Anonymous said...

Interesting...this reminded me of an old saying: "Don't trust anyone in a suit!" I think there's some potential for this to surface again in Microsoft. I sure hope it's not "Don't trust anyone in Management" or "Don't trust anyone who's not an IC", but I do see some trends of "Don't trust anyone who can't code." I would love to see a % of people who actually use these "latest and greatest tools" internally. For example, the "Live clipboard" the Wired article mentions...has anyone actually found a use for this in our products? Is this coming into Office 2007? If it's such a good idea developed by the head CSA (or future CSA), should there be some talk of supporting it in future products? (Ok, so I answered my own question. Try the "Live Clipboard Example" into Outlook 2007. Yay, I love ugly XML in a NOTES field. That does me NO GOOD AT ALL!!)
Ok...time to relax now. Sorry that rambled a bit, mini, feel free to drop it on CRF. I'll head back for a shot of koolaid again in the morning.

Shachar Shemesh said...

Disclaimer: I am a well know Open Source advocate. The only financial relationship I have with MS is the fact I own a few stocks in Gteko, the Israeli company MS is now in the process of buying.

However, being a well known FOSS advocate, I was asked by a locale online paper to write about the passing year, and in particular, about Bill Gates leaving MS.

In a nutshell, what I said was that it appears that there are two conflicting trends at MS. One is the old "IP IP IP", get a monopoly one. The second is the one that realizes that without more opennes, the market will simply marginalize MS's products out of self defence (i.e. - move to web based apps, adopt ODF as the standard for writing documents etc.).

So you get WGA, squishing more monopolies into Vista and DRM on one hand, and public specs for new file formats, a pledge not to sue over patents and FOSS projects on sourceforge on the other. I claimed that Bill Gates, a strong leader of the former approach, leaving is a good thing for MS, as it's the only chance it has of survival as a market leader.

I know your blog typically discusses MS on a much smaller scale. i cannot comment on that, if only for the reason that I don't know much about it. Maybe now my Gteko friends will be able to fill me in, and hopefully not. What I can say is that maybe, just maybe, this is a fractal "symmetry across scale" thing. Maybe the processes going on at the macro level are linked to processes going on in the micro level.

Shachar

Anonymous said...

Given that 3 of our biggest products are shipping in a few weeks and plenty of us will be out there looking for new opportunities, where does everyone think the action is going to be in the next few years?
All the job descriptions up on http://career read like they've been written by an overworked dev lead or recruiter and it's difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff and pick cool, energetic, start-up-like teams.
5 years back, it seemed like DevDiv and the NGWS/CLR/.NET teams were buzzing with energy. 3 years ago, the campus was abuzz with the happenings in Avalon, Indigo and WinFS. Over the past year, I hear a little bit of noise being made around Live, though not much.
So, what are the groups to work for in the next few years?
Is it going to be all the supposedly exciting stuff going on in Live? Is the org-flattening in Windows going to yield a more fun and creative work environment there? Is anything new and exciting happening in Office-land? What about Xbox/Zune and all the secretive Pegasus/Alexandria/Blah-Blah codenames that are bandied about by the H&E folks? Or is all the fun going to be in the small prototyping teams like SPO, PlayTable and so on?

Anonymous said...

I'm a in the Windows Client org, and I can attest to the changes that are going on with Steve Sinofsky in charge. He is completely restructuring and redesigning the way Windows works. While time will tell how successful he is, I can honestly say in the decade I've been at Microsoft I've never seen more radical changes take root.

Anonymous said...

From what I've seen of Office 2007 I hope Sinofsky can bring in the same ideas to Windows: the realization that what Windows needs is not more features but a slicker interface. If he is able to pull off for Windows what he has pulled off for Office 2007 then the next version of Windows will certainly be a _very_ exciting project to work on.

Windows has had the same interaction interface since Windows 95 - a version focused on UI improvements is long overdue. Is there really _no_ other way to design a taskbar?

Anonymous said...

"Let's get back to empowering the front-line folks with decision making and when they make fantastic decisions shower them with rewards and kudos."

BINGO!

Empowering the folks who do the grunt work, particularly those who interact directly with customers is a huge advantage to both the company and the customer. And if your workers are smart about it...it doesnt cost much to the company bottom line and the customer loyalty is a much larger benefit. If legions of your customers can say to the FUD-mongers "I duno about you, but when I had a problem, Joe at company XYZ just jumped in and sorted me out. I'm sold" you cant buy better advertising than that. No amount of presentations and pretty salespeople can trump customers who know they can expect not only great products, but have no fear of buying in because the company will be there to help, not just after the sale but listening to their needs and acting on them in future product.

The most ready example is support. But surely smart people can see how it applies in all aspects of a company that produces products and services. When I have run teams I have always told them that I require only that they solve the issue and tell me how it was done. The latter so I can make sure others know how and can defend the action to bean counters if need be. And I have had to do the latter. Right down to red faced screaming matches if need be. My eams have always known that I will fight tooth and nail if they are busting hump to do right by the customer.

Anonymous said...

Our culture does not value or nurture leadership talent. It's just not a part of the rewards equation here at MS, despite what the party line reads.

When I joined this company nearly 10 years ago, I could name a dozen or more senior manager, director, or GM level folks that I'd have been thrilled to work. While there are some quality folks in these ranks today, there are far too many posers. People too busy marketing themselves to truly care about our products, customers, or ICs.

My friends who work in recruiting (outside of MS) say MS is known as a great place to hunt for technical talent, but virtually devoid of any managerial talent.

Why did MS do away with the manager reviews? More importantly, why didn't they pay any attention to results of those reviews?

In recent years, one of my managers experienced more than 100% attrition amongst her 6 reports. She churned some positions more than once in a 12 month time period. The manager reviews filled out by her directs were extremely honest & detailed. Guess what! She's still hiring and churning people today - her group is one big revolving door.

If we want to develop leadership superstars internally, we've got to have mechanisms for rewarding folks who do a great job of managing people & weeding out folks like the one I described above.

Anonymous said...

Gates has done a lot for the company, but I think his leaving is a very good thing.

AFAICT, Bill was one of the main drivers behind a push for "better together". Now, better together was a *great* idea when it applied to the office products.

Now, to be fair, I'm not against "better together" per se, but the most common way to do it has been to take the groups and bring them together under a common organizational structure and ship vehicle. Which led us to absurdities like tying the release of a database product (SQL 2005) with a developer tools product (VS 2005).

Integration can be had while retaining agility. Unfortunately, doing so is often not in the career interest of those leading the orgs - put five 80 person groups together and you've just created an advancement path for all the leaders of those groups.

Keeperplanet said...

Who was it who said leverage is a double edged sword? And looking at the primary engine of `leverage' as the focus of a Gates-Balmer-Alchin business model over all of Microsoft's history one has to carefully evaluate the integrity and character of each of the 900 and reflecting too on the thousands of ICs who aspire to such lofty places despite the necessary bloodbath to get there. Who are you partner? What have you done to get you where you are or have you actually obtained that esteemed position by being competent, honest and innovative? An an unlikely prospect to ferret out although an altruistic one anyway.

Imagine for a moment that I am Michael Dell, looking at one of his primary suppliers over all the history of his company; my take would go something like this: I see Microsoft showing a wobbly kneed position on the operating systems it sells, and it won't even get around to implementing what my customers need until after Vista ships. I am not sure I really want Vista, but in a way I am kind of locked in for now.

And looking at Xbox division locking in hardware that competes directly with my desired goal of selling hardware to play games. It deeply cuts into my desired business model. Then I look at Zune, and though we got out of that business, the reason we got out was because Microsoft will be abandoning its play for sure partners in favor of the Zune business model and we at present would need to completely retool a new and probably unprofitable business to stay in.

If Microsoft won't sell us games for our PCs and it is now making hardware for playing music and videos, how can I trust them in the long term to not do the same with all its businesses? That business model slices into my markets and smacks of abandonment of the relationship we nurtured for so many years.

And that whole Zune thing cuts deep into my perception of character and commitment from my supplier partners, and to be honest, I don't want to work with Microsoft at all. We will be exploring new opportunities for software suppliers, and may be forced in the end to compete directly with Microsoft in gaming, hardware, and operating systems. Has madness has gripped the 900 at MS?

Anonymous said...

Puh-leeze. Adam Barr's confused because there's nothing there.

Windows Live is nothing more than the latest strategy for MSN. Advertising-supported consumer-oriented Web sites and services. OK, so maybe the other product groups won't totally ignore MSN, and might even occasionally link to MSN--sorry, "Windows Live"--services from within their products (see the Outlook plug-in for Live Local), but that's about it. That and a few new desktop clients, like Live Mail Desktop, that will eventully ship with Windows.

And Office Live = bCentral revisited. We all know how well that worked out.

Xbox Live was introduced in 2002 and is a great service.

The hype about Microsoft not understanding the online market and lagging Google and on and on is a ten-ton load of B.S. spouted by lazy reporters who need to pitch a cover story to lazy editors, and by Wall Street analysts trying to hype the hell out of every Dot-bomb 2.0 there is (MySpace worh $15B? When it lost money on $200m in revenue last year? Sure.)

Worst case scenario with "Live", Office and Windows keep their 5% growth, S&T drops to 10%, and Microsoft misses the big boom in Internet advertising. (And who knows about the other businesses in E&D). But the Web isn't, couldn't be, and never was going to be the death of Microsoft.

Best case scenario, perhaps another $10B business (up from <$3B today).

Ray Ozzie doesn't run any product group. Just sayin'.

And Wired has never been right about anything. Push technology! The crash of the Internet!

Microsoft may need to be turned around (I don't work there, but close to it), but "Live" is just a fresh coat of paint on a tried and tested strategy.

Jordan Orlando said...

Interesting: the essence of the Windows/Mac dichotomy is market share, right? That's the main defining characteristic of each company independent of the other, and it's really never changed.

And yet, as mini says, here's Wired basically mirroring their commentary, suggesting (as mini notes) that Apple circa 1997 and Microsoft circa 2006 are comparable in meaningful ways.

Which would suggest "tables turning" or some such, were it not for the fact that the market share equasionbetween the companies (within the overlapping component of their core business models) hasn't budged.

Anonymous said...

From MONEY.CNN.COM

Microsoft's cuts Zune's price again - and shudders?

First it was $399. Then it was $299. Now, Microsoft is once more cutting the price tag on its upcoming Zune music player, to $249. That matches the recently discount for a similar 30GB-capacity Apple iPod. At that price, writes JupiterResearch analyst David Gartenberg, there's no way Microsoft is making money, since it won't have the same volume discounts on hard drives and other components Apple enjoys, not to mention the added cost of the Zune's Wi-Fi connection.

Is Microsoft taking a page from the Xbox strategy with Zune? On the surface, yes. But in the videogame business, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo take losses on game consoles but make money by charging software developers licensing fees. The more ubiquitous the hardware is, the more money they make from games. In digital media, that business model doesn't work. Apple breaks even or makes a modest profit, at best, on the iTunes Music Store in order to drive profitable iPod sales. Microsoft could easily find itself losing money on Zune hardware and losing money on music sales. All of which should leave shareholders howling for the head of whoever's crunching the numbers in Redmond.


Looks like our loose money to gain market share in in play again

Anonymous said...

Mini said: "Let's get back to empowering the front-line folks with decision making and when they make fantastic decisions shower them with rewards and kudos. I'd like to hear less about the no-doubt Partner-level employees joining Microsoft as strategic acquisitions and how Microsoft internally is aggressively developing talented, entrepreneurially groups and people. Super stars should come from within and be celebrated by the internal and external community."

Blue skies, nothin' but blue skies...from now on!

So, what you're suggesting is that we wrestle the power away from the "good 'ol boys", the "facade managers", the "golden boys/(girl", the "chosen ones", the "frat boys"...and put the power into the hands of compentent, trustworthy managers?

Not so long as the guys at the top promote and condone this kind of current corporate behavior! This all has to come from the top; no amount of "storming the Bastille" is going to work, especially if the fat king has all the $34 billion coin of the realm.

No, one by one, the stockholders and/or public opinion is going to have to run the bastards out of town; tar and feather them. This is no friendly coup; this is war! Gerstner did it to IBM. Who'll do it for MSFT?

But, we must all do our part by continuing to bitch...yes, whine...until we are heard, more and more by the powers that bring about change. 'Tis better to light one candle..

Never say die!

Anonymous said...

I also believe Ozzie is Microsoft's salvation. After a meeting where we were encouraged to express our concerns about various issues, and I, being new to the company, actually believed that such freedom of expression existed, asked why we were stuck using semi-functional tools when various 3rd party tools like FrameMaker and RoboHELP were so much better, I thought I was going to be forced to walk the proverbial plank. The next day I sent an email to Ray Ozzie asking how we could ever become a company of innovation when we can't even mention the names of companies that are doing it right. He agreed with me, and asked for patience. It was a thoughtful and thorough reply to my frustration and I've been an Ozzie fan ever since.

Anonymous said...

...So, what are the groups to work for in the next few years?

It is people that make groups rock. Instead being a lazy doofus trying to reap where you did not sow, go join a group (or stay where you are) and help make that the group to work for.

..What about Xbox/Zune and all the secretive Pegasus/Alexandria/Blah-Blah codenames that are bandied about by the H&E folks?...

There you go about blabbing about what you apparent know isn't for public consumption. Folks like you should be canned. Don't worry, you will get yours.

Anonymous said...

Mini pls yank that post by the open source zealot talking about an acquisition yet to be made. You should not fall for such traps by people with sinister motives.

I am not going to perpetuate the situation by mentioning the company's name

Anonymous said...

To follow up on the previous comment on an Ozzie's fan.

I also think Ozzie is a positive change for Microsoft. I have briefly interacted both with Bill and Ozzie. They are both great. One is greater than the other in one department then the other is greater in another department.

But generally speaking when things are stuck a change is always welcome. There is though one concern I have.

Steve is a business person and not an engineer. I think business persons are very much needed at leadership position but I want a technology company being run by an engineer. Bill could any day vito Steve. But after Bill, veto power may shift to Steve.

On the positive side, Bill has said he will remain involve with Microsoft. So it is likely that Bill may keep the last call on issues of biggest importance. I see Bill agreeing more with Ray than with Steve on technical matters, like long term vision. But it is natural that he would always trust Steve more. Which actually may be a good thing. Nobody, including Bill, is as committed to the company as Steve is.

Jordan Orlando said...

Off topic:
Can anyone explain this?

http://www.zune.com/

http://www.microsoft.com/resources/zune

Anonymous said...

Who would you like to see as the next MS CEO ?
First name that came to mind was Richard Branson.

Anonymous said...

zune?

how about making windows media player not suck? honestly, i spent an hour list night putting music on my windows mobile fun. and windows media mobile needs some serious help.

if we were going to start winning in this space, we should be able to do something more interesting with what we have. i have an xda mini, which is a fabulous portable computer - outlook, office, web. for maybe $30 i dropped in a gig of flash memory.

transferring the music is a pain - and then playing the music sucks as well - you can't split the system volume form the music volume etc. etc.

i liked the shane kim "i haven't figured it out yet" post. there's too much of that in that side of the business. jallard does cool demos, i love windows mobile in general and i love my xbox.

but honestly, we could stich all of these things together in a way that has much better feel and experience.

same goes for live and office. i have a genuine copy of office pro on my system at home (i work at ms btw) but when i try to bring down my hotmail into outlook it says i have to buy a subscription.

really? i need to buy a subscription to use our free email client with the $350 office suite i bought? that's kind of stupid.

come on guys, it's not that hard to make all of this great stuff work really well together. at the end of the day that's what our customers want - consistent ui, seamless experience with interop available out of the box. we win on the first and we make sure we don't scare our customers away with the second.

rather than trying to "kill ipod", let's ride the wave it has created and leverage that installed base. apple is one of the most widely used isv's on our platform...

Anonymous said...

"Windows Live is nothing more than the latest strategy for MSN. Advertising-supported consumer-oriented Web sites and services. OK, so maybe the other product groups won't totally ignore MSN, and might even occasionally link to MSN--sorry, "Windows Live"--services from within their products (see the Outlook plug-in for Live Local), but that's about it. That and a few new desktop clients, like Live Mail Desktop, that will eventully ship with Windows.
And Office Live = bCentral revisited. We all know how well that worked out."

That is right in so many ways, but doesn't begin to describe what is wrong with our Live strategy. I have been part of the Windows Live team, and been in meetings with Office Live where Ray Ozzie was present. Yes, he is a smart guy, but he is inheriting a huge mess that, so far, he has not figured out how to clean up.

There's been a lot of time and money spent developing these apps, with little thought given to: (1) how we will make money off of them beyond selling banner ads, (2) how they will help us sell more of our core products (Office, Windows, Exchange), (3) how we are going to sell them through our massive and diverse channels, and (4) why the field sales force should give a rat's ass about products for which they receive no revenue credit. Instead, we've got a bunch of PMs running around trying to outdo each other in the "innovation" derby, and not worrying about the basics of how to actually make money.

If you want an example of this, check out one of the ppts on Office Live. It is painfully clear that they have no idea who their core customers are (small business? consumer? IT worker?), why those customers would care about their product when there are hundreds of other choices at about the same price point (but without ads being shoved at you and your viewers), or how they are actually going to make a profit any time soon. It's sad, and I am not sure The Wizard of Ozzie will be able to fix it before he decides to head back to Kansas with Dorothy.

Anonymous said...

Who would you like to see as the next MS CEO ?
First name that came to mind was Richard Branson.


Steve Jobs

Anonymous said...

This is the only MS Zune link:

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/zune/default.mspx

Pretty surprising. I was expecting something more "official" and flashy looking.

Anonymous said...

>> Who would you like to see as the next MS CEO ?
>First name that came to mind was Richard Branson.

In that case, sir, Donald Trump, Mark Cuban, and Martha Stewart should be in the running too... < g >

Anonymous said...

Who ever said Steve Jobs for a CEO is crazy or work for Apple.

Both Microsoft and Apple started at the same time. Look at where Apple is today and where Microsoft is today.

Steve Jobs does not have any business sense where Steve Ballmer does.

Anonymous said...

>> Steve Jobs does not have any business sense where Steve Ballmer does

You're a bit confused. What Steve doesn't have is two multibillion dollar monopolies to milk and leverage at every opportunity, legal or illegal. He has the iPod, but it's not a monopoly and it's not that easy to leverage.

Jobs also seems to care about the customers. I don't think you'll find that many unsatisfied Apple customers if you exclude folks who work at Microsoft where Apple-bashing is becoming a new corporate pastime.

We just need to focus on the customer instead of focusing on pushing a random VPs agenda and career plans. And no, by "focusing on the customer" I don't mean focusing on this Abby character pulled out of some PMs lower torso or on PMs ideas on what customers want.

Anonymous said...

"Who would you like to see as the next MS CEO?First name that came to mind was Richard Branson."

Robbie Bach or Kevin Johnson should be the next CEO.

Microstiff said...

"There's been a lot of time and money spent developing these apps, with little thought given to: (1) how we will make money off of them beyond selling banner ads, (2) how they will help us sell more of our core products (Office, Windows, Exchange), (3) how we are going to sell them through our massive and diverse channels, and (4) why the field sales force should give a rat's ass about products for which they receive no revenue credit. Instead, we've got a bunch of PMs running around trying to outdo each other in the "innovation" derby, and not worrying about the basics of how to actually make money."

1. Selling "banner ads" in the form of interactive media, etc., will be enough. If it isn't, our competition suffers, too, and we can all go back to Windows/Office. Not to worry; MSFT is in a perfect liquid capital position to make this happen. It remains to be seen if they can "creatively" pull it off.

2. Windows will ALWAYS have a market; Office and Exchange will continue to hold its own. What's going to change that?

3. Consumer Live Services will be sold online. Small business live services will be sold door-to-door using the subscription (means commissions!) and advertising (means commissions!) models.

4. Field sales force will get plenty of opportunity for sales in a "virgin" marketplace - 20 million plus!

You guys just have to calm down and take a deep breath and realize that you'll have two (2) sources of income, one of them traditional - subscription. Lotsa opportunity comin' down the pike, IF MSFT adopts a subscription model for small businesses.

Orbit said...

I'm not a shareholder for msft or work for the empire (loll).

but I do study Businesses and their Business Model, I'm not a scoble but I'm up to date with what Microsoft is doing but I still don't know or understand what "Live" is or what they are trying to accomplish. I went to their website, played around and was clueless.

Anonymous said...

> I don't think you'll find that many
> unsatisfied Apple customers if
> you exclude folks who work at Microsoft...

I guess it's really just us Microsoft employees at defectivebydesign.org...

Anonymous said...

"You're a bit confused. What Steve doesn't have is two multibillion dollar monopolies to milk and leverage at every opportunity, legal or illegal."

No, you're confused. Who do you think helped to build those monopolies? The tooth fairy? While Jobs was off making a fool of himself with Lisa, NeXT and a bunch of other misadventures, Bill and Steve were building two of the most businesses in history.

Anonymous said...

After a meeting where we were encouraged to express our concerns about various issues, and I, being new to the company, actually believed that such freedom of expression existed, asked why we were stuck using semi-functional tools when various 3rd party tools like FrameMaker and RoboHELP were so much better, I thought I was going to be forced to walk the proverbial plank.

Careful, careful. Do not taunt happy fun Assistance Platform.

Is anyone else surprised that AP is still taken so seriously, given its tendency to negatively affect writing team productivity and morale? Much like WTT, it looks like a case study in "if you want to make your career by getting a tool adopted across the company, ignore IC productivity and spend 90% of your time making it easy for managers to generate reports."

Anonymous said...

As I prepare to leave Microsoft I wonder what I should do with my stock. I mean I know I was hear for the worst possible 6 years in the company… from a shareholder and employee standpoint… and I know that my hiring manager back then has reached that elusive partner status… heck yeah he got the million bucks or whatever it was… his 2003 Corvette still looks like a middle aged crisis to me.

What now… what to do… will Microsoft Zune into the new age?

My biggest struggle is going to work for a company that hasn’t considered Vista, SharePoint or the house that the new tools save me.

I will miss being on the bleeding edge… I will miss experimenting with every new feature and seeing how they can give me 15 minutes back each day… 15 minutes I can spend with my new son in the bathtub when I get home instead of getting home to only find him asleep. That was the reason I came to Microsoft. I FIRMLY believe this company can change the world… they just aren’t interested in my ideas.
I work in IT so I am a nobody… a caddy day at the company meeting for those of you that know Caddy Shack you know that the caddies only got 15 minutes in the pool each year.

I won’t be missed… but I will REALLY miss working for this company. I will miss filing bugs for the multiple product groups through dogfooding.
Can I still change the world?
I believed I could change the world when I got here… now I know I can… it’s just too bad it can’t be at MS.

Anonymous said...

>>>>He has the iPod, but it's not a monopoly and it's not that easy to leverage.

It is almost a monopoly. And being preserved by bundling iPod and iTune together. People have been locked to iPod because they have purcahsed songs on iTune. There are much better media player like Sandisk and Samsung available, but then folks have to buy their already purchased music again. Microsoft bundled IE with OS but it always allowed people to run Netscape. The same is not true either with iPod or iTune.

>>>>Jobs also seems to care about the customers.

If Jobs care about customers then why does not he let Mac OS run on generic Dell and HP machines? Why does not he license his OS, which now runs on intel, to run on these machines?

Jobs did the bundling of Hardware and Software which hurted the customers, therefore the massive failure of Apple.

Whereas, Microsoft always did bundling of softwares for the benefit of customers. Is not it a benefit for customers that they do not need to install a software because it came with an OS? It saves them a ton of time and skills. Most people do not know how to install software.

So Microsoft always thought about the customers and won. Of course, since Microsoft delived the best value it won and competitors loses.

All these government treatment, if you see the last five-six years have massively hurted the customers, though benefit the competitors and these governments.

Judge Apple with the same high standards as you judge Microsoft with, and you will get it that Jobs is good in design, I agree, but he does not know business. And his total service to customers, i.e., the number of customers multiplied by their happiness, is far lower than what Ballmer does.

Like iPod success was not given to Jobs by heaven, do not forget Microsoft's so called two cash-cows (which actually are now three with server and tools business), were also not given by heaven.

To be an abusive monopoly you have to be a monopoly first. Microsoft's market share always came by serving the end customers better. Of course, Geeks may not always like this. Because Microsoft ignored Geeky things like a stable OS or Secure OS. But it kept the end customers in mind and that is an ease of use. If it is not easy to use then people won't use it so stability and security etc are useless concepts.

Ignoring the engineering aspects such as stability or security can only be done by the participation of a business brain. Keeping the ease of use at the front also requires a business brain.

Don't forget Jobs started following the same what Ballmer was doing for years. iPod is technically is not any better than any other media player. But Jobs kept the ease of use at the forefront.

Whatever our stock price is doing in the last 4-5 years, I will any day choose Ballmer over Jobs. Forget about being a CEO, I won't even make Jobs incharge of a single business unit.

Jobs did a good marketing for iPod. Now look at, Zune is doing better marketing. I do not think there has ever been a media player which became so popular without anybody even saw it. Just pictures! If Zune team keeps the same performance for three to five years, which may be hard to do but possible, I can definitely say that Zune will outsell iPod.

Charles said...

This is how Microsoft wastes millions and billions without seemingly reflecting on P&L, cost of sales and support, customer adoption or thinking through a marketing plan:

1. Selling "banner ads" in the form of interactive media, etc., will be enough. If it isn't, our competition suffers, too, and we can all go back to Windows/Office. Not to worry; MSFT is in a perfect liquid capital position to make this happen. It remains to be seen if they can "creatively" pull it off.

And just how will a Microsoft Live failure make its competitors suffer? Is Monty Python's Black Night ("It's just a flesh wound") doing the Live market planning?

"If" it isn't enough? That is a very big "if". Why isn't break-even minimal sales revenue assured at this point? What is the depth & breadth of the pipeline? Banner ad sales would be "enough" if and only if they exceed the sunk plus ongoing R&D, sales and admin costs - what are those costs? Where is the revenue model for banner ad sales? Further, as long as "creative" failure and further drains on "liquid capital" are the primary fall-back positions, that will be the outcome.

Whose "creativity" is at risk; of Live developers or of customer advertisement campaign designers? If "creativity remains to be seen", that means this is an offering (at launch mind you) whose success and profitability depends on still as yet unidentified, uncontrolled, and unmeasured factors. That is poor planning and even poorer execution.

2. Windows will ALWAYS have a market; Office and Exchange will continue to hold its own. What's going to change that?

GM also thought it would "always have a market" because GM was entitled to selling oil-leaking, gas-guzzling, rattling rust-buckets... well, that is until the Japanese disabused them of that notion. When it takes a desk-top mainframe to do aero-gloss versions of word processing and spreadsheets, watch the market find a better way.

And before you extoll the virtues of Vista (and its minimal PC upgrade requirements), reflect on the existing desktop systems from which you presume the small business' Live customers will draw responses to Live banner ads.

3. Consumer Live Services will be sold online. Small business live services will be sold door-to-door using the subscription (means commissions!) and advertising (means commissions!) models.

The internet is global, its banner ads have global reach, but small business is local or regional. Why will a small business in Peoria, Ill. pay for internet banner ads to be read in NY, Prague, or Hong Kong? How, without violating privacy concerns, will MS Live direct regional ads to regional surfers? If the ad model is more like Google Local, where then is the P&L analysis that reflects the regional field sales focus required? Where is that "creativity" located on which depends the success of small business ad campaign development? And should a small business develope an internet campaign, they'll advertise on Live and not Google or Yahoo, because....???

4. Field sales force will get plenty of opportunity for sales in a "virgin" marketplace - 20 million plus! ... you'll have two (2) sources of income, one of them traditional - subscription. Lotsa opportunity comin' down the pike, IF MSFT adopts a subscription model for small businesses.

Another big "if" that should have been resolved before product launch and before assertions of sales revenue. Why, again, will small business subscribe to global banner ads?

I'm not suggesting answers to the above need to be posted. I'm pointing out how the Microsoft echo chamber engages in cognitive dissonance; the disconnect between glib assurance and CYA caveats; how expectations vastly outstrip preparations.

Anonymous said...

notice at the end of the Wired article talking about live services the writer has a gmail address. i got a chuckle out of that.

Microstiff said...

Charles, your assumptions of my assumptions need some more...well...assumptions:

"And just how will a Microsoft Live failure make its competitors suffer?"

This means that if Microsoft can't do what it does best, take an existing and presumably profitable Internet advertising business model -- ala Google -- and COPY IT, then the MODEL DOESN'T WORK IN THE FIRST PLACE AND WE WILL ALL HAVE FAILED! It's a back door way of saying "it's a pretty safe bet."

It's the kind of bet worth making since it's not unexplored territory and really...too late NOT to do it. Forget the bean counting at this point. MSFT's the one with the greatest opportunity and clout and Legacy-to-Live products. Press on.

"If "creativity remains to be seen", that means this is an offering (at launch mind you) whose success and profitability depends on still as yet unidentified, uncontrolled, and unmeasured factors."

Hey, Charles, that's show biz. What I'm saying is that if Microsoft's Live Consumer and Biz offerings aren't compelling enough(creative) and delivered with he approriate "hooks" (creative) then all the tea in China won't make folks VIEW the PAID ads.


"GM also thought it would "always have a market" because GM was entitled to selling oil-leaking, gas-guzzling, rattling rust-buckets... well, that is until the Japanese disabused them of that notion. When it takes a desk-top mainframe to do aero-gloss versions of word processing and spreadsheets, watch the market find a better way."

Chuck, I'm not saying MSFT has the BEST answers, I'm saying they have 97% of the best answers (Windows worldwide computer saturation). Let's TAKE Windows (please!): Customer delivery can be every 5 years or...NEVER; the money will still flow! GM has to get it up every year!

There is really nothing on the Japanese Disabusment Sea Change horizon that is going to, nor will, in our lifetime (well, maybe if we're both 6 years old) significantly chip away at that 97% market share. It's the very thing that makes every Softie smug and delirously happy in their little Redmond Linus Security Blanket world.

"Why will a small business in Peoria, Ill. pay for internet banner ads to be read in NY, Prague, or Hong Kong?"

My bad, Charlie. I wasn't clear enough. SMB's won't PLACE ads; they will SUBSCRIBE to MSFT's soon-to-be-myriad stable of SMB Live services - e.g. Great Plains online - and pay MSFT monthly. No upfront costs, no long term commitment. That will be the Live Services SMB business model. There's over 20 million of those businesses out there.

The Live services consumer model will give free access to Super Works and other online services - we really don't know what they are and if they will support the ad biz model. This is where you may be correct and what I am saying is, jump in both feet, MSFT, because:

1. Somebody's already doing it - Google, and;
2. It's the future, and;
3. SMB Live Services R&D will subsidize the consumer online endeavor and visa-versa.

So, Charles, this fleshes out to a "no brainer" to me and all the bean counters in the world should go back to their green garters and their head shades and encourage their normally extra cautious MegaMonolith company to...press on!

P.S. - To me, the real excitement lies in the SMB subscription model. I have been out there talking to those folks for a few years and, they really have nobody to champion them other than the yellow pages. The cost of sales can be high with them but...the bundled Live services could pay the way! Examples: All training online. All services would have a simple-medium-advanced module matching the level of competence of the SMB user. Startup costs would be nill. Blah, blah, blah. Would mean one SMB MSFT Live services rep in every medium sized city in the USA and more in the larger cities. Doing this, MSFT would truly begin to know what the CUSTOMERS REALLY WANT!

MSFT, email me when you want me to make this happen for you. I am at microstiff@aol.com. I'll anxiously wait by my computer.

Anonymous said...

..I won't even make Jobs incharge of a single business unit..

Best post I've read of late. I thought smart, analytical people stopped posting a long time ago. Very refreshing analysis of Jobs. Hope the Mac nut will zip it up for maybe a few hours

Charles said...

Microstiff responds:

This means that if Microsoft can't do what it does best, take an existing and presumably profitable Internet advertising business model -- ala Google -- and COPY IT, then the MODEL DOESN'T WORK IN THE FIRST PLACE AND WE WILL ALL HAVE FAILED! It's a back door way of saying "it's a pretty safe bet. ... Forget the bean counting at this point. MSFT's the one with the greatest opportunity and clout and Legacy-to-Live products. Press on.


I see. Well of course it's a "presumably profitable business model" - those are the only kind MS uses, right? Yes, by all means, forget the bean counting and press on, "Damn the profits! (with sabre drawn) Onward troops! We have the cliff edge in sight!".

What I'm saying is that if Microsoft's Live Consumer and Biz offerings aren't compelling enough(creative) and delivered with he
approriate "hooks" (creative) then all the tea in China won't make folks VIEW the PAID ads.


You overlook that even if folks view the paid ads that they'll want to buy, and that even if they want to buy that they'll buy from the advertiser, and that even if they buy from the advertiser that Lives' sales & support costs will be recouped - but then who's bean counting.

I'm saying they have 97% of the best answers (Windows worldwide computer saturation). Let's TAKE Windows (please!): Customer delivery can be every 5 years or...NEVER; the money will still flow! GM has to get it up every year!

Market share does not equate to market barriers nor to revenue (if license renewal or upgrades tail off) nor to profit, even assuming no one switches to Linux or open office (and Linux market share is growing). MS Windows revenue road the post-Y2K upgrade and scale-out resurgence - that is slowing, still growth but slowing growth - but then who's bean counting.

SMB's won't PLACE ads; they will SUBSCRIBE to MSFT's soon-to-be-myriad stable of SMB Live services - e.g. Great Plains online - and pay MSFT monthly. No upfront costs, no long term commitment. That will be the Live Services SMB business model. There's over 20 million of those businesses out there.

78 million by HP's reckoning. But I indeed misunderstood your context here. You allude to SaaS, formerly known as ASP in the dot-com days (back when no one was bean counting). The biggest impediment to SaaS acceptance and manageability will be multi-tenancy and on-demand performance with contractual response commitments (SLAs). They key technology to implementing multiple private customer instances of shared software that are dynamically load-balanced across a server farm is, virtualization - a technology in which MS is the market laggard and will find is *very* difficult to implement within the current Windows/Longhorn architecture. The second most difficult problem MS will face is the customers' internetworking and data collection requirements. And those are post-sales problems. While MS may in fact be able to solve these problems cheaper than can the customer (a relative comparison), on an absolute scale it will entail more expense in development, sales and support; expenses which to-date have not been tested in the market place or factored into any business plan I've seen discussed - but then who's bean counting.

... what I am saying is, jump in both feet, MSFT, because:
1. Somebody's already doing it - Google, and;
2. It's the future, and;
3. SMB Live Services R&D will subsidize the consumer online endeavor and visa-versa.


Google readily admits to experimenting with offerings. Google and MS have two entirely different marketplace positions and customer bases. I would not rely too heavily on a Google experiment to justify a MS business plan. And if you're not counting beans, how will you know that "SMB Live Services R&D and consumer online subsidize each other"?

MSFT, email me when you want me to make this happen for you. I am at microstiff@aol.com. I'll anxiously wait by my computer.

And if they ask for a guaranteed RFP from you to "make it happen", you'll be counting a few beans yourself, won't you. Of course you will - when they're your beans that stand to be gained or lost.

You have the last word.

Anonymous said...

>How, without violating privacy concerns, will MS Live direct regional ads to regional surfers?

The same way everyone does now: IP geolocation. To oversimplify, blocks of IP addresses tend to be associated with geographic locations for long periods of time and there are public means of determining that location, e.g. by examining the path by which an IP is reachable.

To mangle some Hamlet, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Charles, than are dreamt of by your philosophy." I suspect that most of your other questions have equally mundane answers.

alanau said...

Mini said: For instance: with all the organizational flattening going on, I'd like to see a return to the celebration of the individual contributor. I'd like to hear ... about ... how Microsoft internally is aggressively developing talented, entrepreneurially [sic] groups and people. Super stars should come from within and be celebrated by the internal and external community. And that's a hot recruitment story.

The fact that is not happening is a flat, blown-out tire.


It *is* happening, and will be happening even more so in the future. Microsoft will always need to look for talent both internally and externally, but there's a lot of attention being paid these days on developing internal talent at all levels.

Microsoft has the ingredients to do this better than anyone else: the broadest product set, a diverse set of technologies, locations around the world, lots of formal training and other learning resources, rotational assignments, the list goes on. And an internal transfer process that wasn't bad to begin with (I've had several different jobs here) and has just gotten better.

Yep, sometimes the external acquisitions get too much attention -- or more than some of us would like. But I guess I see the point. Winning talent is like winning big customer deals. It's worth shouting about.

Microsoft has always been serious about "ADK" -- attract, develop, and keep talent. If you have suggestions on the "D" in particular, developing talent, then write to me at alanau@microsoft.com.

(the usual disclaimer: what I've written is my personal opinion. I think I need that here since it's not an MS hosted blog)

The Nog said...

No, you're confused. Who do you think helped to build those monopolies? The tooth fairy? While Jobs was off making a fool of himself with Lisa, NeXT and a bunch of other misadventures, Bill and Steve were building two of the most businesses in history.

To be fair to historical accuracy, Microsoft got so huge initially because of a lucky pre-installed OS deal with then-braindead IBM, and they lucked out again with then-braindead Apple's technology licensing deal for Office which was used to make Windows. PCs took off as a commodity, and viola. Office subsequently rode that wave and got #1. I often wonder if a lot of today's problems are because Microsoft no longer has those external momentums to rely on and are just now realizing it. Windows is directly tied to PC sales and has been since the beginning.

Say what you will about Jobs, but he's big on streamlining and slashing fat (some might say obsessive). NeXT/Cocoa is still the best development environment I've ever used and has features I've yet to see in Windows. And of course, there's that whole iPod thing.

That said, he and Microsoft are so incompatible that I suspect the company would be almost completely unrecognizable after a thorough Steve Jobsizing, although much, much leaner and meaner. But it's still a fun fantasy. In the end, Win32 and .NET would be ported onto CoreFoundation alongside Cocoa and Carbon, and you guys would become an OS X software company. Windows tech would be rolled into OS X, which would be released for generic PCs as Windows' official replacement.

Anonymous said...

>> I thought smart, analytical people stopped posting a long time ago.

I thought the post you're referring to was written by a person with startlingly low IQ using the kind of false reasoning that should (but doesn't) get the guy fired if he ever utters anything of the same magnitude.

As far as putting Jobs in charge -- I don't know. On one hand he's a well known asshole, and assholes beget assholes, particularly in a large company. On the other hand he single-handedly saved Apple and I'll be damned if what he did can be called anything but the brilliant work of a genius and a masterpiece of marketing. The stock is at 10x of what it was in 2001 after all.

The issue here is that Microsoft doesn't (yet) need the kind of CPR Apple needed in late 90's.

All it needs is a bit of a deadwood-only purge, organizational flattening and slight redistribution of the benefits towards the people who the real, actual work (i.e. ICs in dev and test).

Charles said...

The same way everyone does now: IP geolocation. To oversimplify, blocks of IP addresses tend to be associated with geographic locations for long periods of time and there are public means of determining that location, e.g. by examining the path by which an IP is reachable.

Yes, quite oversimplified. The best geolocators such as Akamai's EdgeScape or Quova's GeoPoint are nonetheless stymied by use of proxies (an increasing phenomena for a variety of business reasons), cacheing, tunneling, VPNs, anonimizers and firewalls, and best case reliably provide the Country (useful for language selection) and sometimes the State. Only in a small number of cases (not predeterminable for contract purposes) can they reliably determine the nearest City at which point geolocation begins to be useful for local/regional small business.

The difficulty of the problem is suggested by the R&D being expended by companies like Akamai, without, at present, a broadly reliable solution on which a SMB would "bet" marketing & sales dollars. They opt instead for print & broadcast media ads, or direct query (by zipcode) when the 'lurker' cooperates.

Ever notice how many newspaper websites (who rely upon an advertiser subscription business model almost exclusively) ask you for your address or at least zipcode before they reveal their content? There's a reason (a mundane one) for that.

Microstiff said...

More Charles and Microstiff:

Charles - “You overlook that even if folks view the paid ads that they'll want to buy, and that even if they want to buy that they'll buy from the advertiser, and that even if they buy from the advertiser that Lives' sales & support costs will be recouped - but then who's bean counting.”

Microstiff – Charles, that’s a black box that no one has any real control over – Google or MSFT. However, you miss what the business world already knows and that is that there’s a paradigm shift with advertising. It’s moving from TV to the Internet for three (3) reasons that I am aware of:

1. Highway Principle – Build a new highway and people will use it. Route 495 circumscribing greater Boston is a good example.
2. Niche Customer & Products – Greater access to more products for more buyer groups means access to more buyers and the need for focused messages.
3. Tivo – Skipping ads is rampant.

And so, my point is that Internet advertising isn’t a fad but a legitimate business model. Wouldn’t you agree that those companies with the greatest understanding of that fact will profit the most?

Charles – “Market share does not equate to market barriers nor to revenue (if license renewal or upgrades tail off) nor to profit, even assuming no one switches to Linux or open office (and Linux market share is growing). MS Windows revenue road the post-Y2K upgrade and scale-out resurgence - that is slowing, still growth but slowing growth - but then who's bean counting.”

Microstiff – Honestly, Chuck, Windows has a worldwide 97% adoption rate! An operating system that is revered and hated by practically…all! You are arguing about 3%! That’s one percentage point more than the allowed failure rate of most manufacturing processes. It’s insignificant! You are flogging a dead horse with 3% forensic blowfly activity!

Charles – “…But I indeed misunderstood your context here. You allude to SaaS, formerly known as ASP in the dot-com days (back when no one was bean counting). The biggest impediment to SaaS acceptance and manageability will be multi-tenancy and on-demand performance with contractual response commitments (SLAs). They key technology to implementing multiple private customer instances of shared software that are dynamically load-balanced across a server farm is, virtualization - a technology in which MS is the market laggard and will find is *very* difficult to implement within the current Windows/Longhorn architecture...”

Microstiff – SaaS is a Live Services "rose by any other name" with the following two (2) primary customer concerns:

1. Off-premises storage – I don’t want my debits and credits on a blade server in Boise, Idaho.
2. Inaccessibility – When the Internet goes down and I have a P&L sheet the president needs…well…I am S.O.L!

This is palatable when we’re talking a Consumer Live Services Word document or momentary inaccessibility to Friday’s family album backup. Business Live Services becomes another animal and, IMO, it’s really just about accounting. Putting the books online has received a great amount of resistance; I say it’s the accountants telling their customers not to do it because a.) They fear loss of control and b.) They don’t want to learn the new system and c.) Accountants by and large are a conservative group; the thought of debits and credits stored any place but on that QuickBooks hard drive on that computer on the desk is quite frightening to them!

This explains the failure of Net Suite during the dot com boom and why Online QuickBooks and online Great Plains have met with modest-only success.

So, Business Live Services should promote online bean counting as last in a line of effective online services for small businesses. This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t address it. For instance: Provide an online dashboard service with hooks to legacy QuickBooks, Peachtree, etc. which gives all who are interested a picture of the company with GRADUAL CONVERSION TO ONLINE ACCOUNTING (MS Great Plains).

Charles, you show your vast understanding of the load balancing/MS software issue but, again, this is a black box problem which will be easily solved and, perhaps be a nanosecond behind the Google solution. Chuckles, you’re like my wife; I come up with a good idea and she immediately goes to the detail of some spurious non-player impediment!

Microsoft is in a great position to make both Consumer and Business Live Services (SaaS) work. Lotsa money…lotsa people to throw at the problem. A totally virgin marketplace in both Consumer and Business arenas; first mover in the SMB market with pre-existing products. With this much cash and this much “virginity”, the world is their oyster. With cranky old Bill out of the picture and Steve off someplace stage ranting, humble Ray can pull it off “while the cat’s away.” Everything’s in place for Microsoft to “grow a pair” and make it happen.

Anonymous said...


If Jobs care about customers then why does not he let Mac OS run on generic Dell and HP machines? Why does not he license his OS, which now runs on intel, to run on these machines?

For the same reason that Microsoft does not port Office, Exchange or SQLServer to Linux.

Anonymous said...

Stiff, you are way bullish on SaaS for SMBs. But to refer to something I posted earlier:
"Office Live = bCentral revisited. And we all know how well that worked out."

i.e., it didn't. The ASP model sucked. What's different this time? How does Microsoft get around:
1. The high cost of sales to SMBs
2. Resistance to relying on a hosted Internet-based service for critical data--as you said, the Net goes down, you're screwed. Not to mention security concerns--do SMBs trust Microsoft to keep their data secure?
3. The delicious profit margins of selling packaged software. When the numbers hit the road, why would Ballmer or Raikes or anybody else at Microsoft want to trade in the possibility of selling Small Business Server--a one time sale, after the first [x] sales it's all profit--in favor of a subscription that can be cancelled well before recopuing.

Personally, I think SaaS for businesses is a non-business except for a few very logical areas (e-mail, collaborative workspaces). Didn't work this time, won't work next time.

Consumers and advertising, that's a model I understand. MSN may not be able to execute it, but it's out there, it's demonstrated, and it's going to get better.

Anonymous said...

Yep, like someone said earlier. Once Bill is "gone" MS will be Ballmer's company lock, stock, and barrel. Ozzie's a brilliant guy, and certainly a well respected technical guy. But, he's not Bill and will likely not be able to stand up to the like of Ballmer, or even Mundie, Allard, Sinofsky, or even Raikes.

The only guy that Ballmer could not run roughshod over was Gates. He knew Gates controlled his destiny. There will be less of that fear now. I don't even Ozzie's task. Ballmer will surely blame Ozzie for any product related issues that affect MS's profitability. And he runs the risk of going the way of many before him. Which would be really too bad. Even though they may be peers in the org chart, it's naive to think anyone but Ballmer will now be overseeing EVERYTHING.

Anonymous said...

"For the same reason that Microsoft does not port Office, Exchange or SQLServer to Linux."

Wrong answer. Linux has a negligible market share so it does not make business sense to spend too much effort for it. Microsoft does develop office for Mac.

On the other hand both Dell and HP sells far more computers than Apple. So you can't use the same logic.

For an example, it is a business necessity for Apple to develop iTune for windows. But it is not at all necessary for Microsoft to develop zune marketplace for Mac.

So my original question still stands i.e., if Jobs care for customers and really thinks he has better OS than windows, then why does not he licence his OS to Dell and HP?

Anonymous said...

Much like WTT, it looks like a case study in "if you want to make your career by getting a tool adopted across the company, ignore IC productivity and spend 90% of your time making it easy for managers to generate reports."

I'm not a big fan of WTT, but it has gotten better by leaps and bounds. And if you're not a lead, then you really have no idea how much time a lead/manager spends generating status reports. So WTT is priceless just for handling this menial task.

Anonymous said...

"If Jobs care about customers then why does not he let Mac OS run on generic Dell and HP machines? Why does not he license his OS, which now runs on intel, to run on these machines?"

For the same reason that Microsoft does not port Office, Exchange or SQLServer to Linux.
You're comparing oranges to cows here.

MacOS X has a very small user base. If they want more users, they have to run on a larger set of systems, which would be PCs.

We aren't porting apps to Linux because it doesn't have enough market share to make it a relevant competitor, at least in the client space.

As for MacOS X, if they wanted to compete on the merits of the OS, they could open it up to run on non-Apple hardware. And I wouldn't be too surprised if they announced something like this to try to steal some of Vista's thunder. But I doubt that they have the technical skills to pull this off. Plus they'd need the industry to provide driver support. MS OS's kick their ass on hardware compatibility, no matter what that corny commercial would have you believe.

They'll probably try some half-assed release that runs on an *extremely* limited set of hardware, and maybe even make a deal with a small shop like Voodoo or Alienware (which are now owned by HP and Dell respectively) to sell PC's with this hardware.

I'd LOVE to see them do this, since competition only makes us better.

Microstiff said...

”Stiff, you are way bullish on SaaS for SMBs. But to refer to something I posted earlier:

‘Office Live = bCentral revisited. And we all know how well that worked out.’”


This was a dotcom era solution to ecommerce with the hubris of thinking SMB’s – or more likely SB’s…suddenly knew the landscape and got way bullish on SaaS. This is a market sector, when nurtured properly with a good game plan, can be successful. Read on.

i.e., it didn't. The ASP model sucked.”

Model was great. We sucked.

”What's different this time? How does Microsoft get around:
1. The high cost of sales to SMBs…”


• The wonderfully powerful brand name known as Microsoft…when coming through the door for one visit and one visit only.
• Online sales videos.
• Three (3) level ease of use SaaS with built-in training modules leading to a short sales cycle (SaaS must be developed strategically for the long run).
• Team up with local savvy bookkeeper/accountants and Chambers of Commerce (many of which use a membership SaaS known as IRM and…like it!)
• Support it well (built in as part of the cost).

”2. Resistance to relying on a hosted Internet-based service for critical data--as you said, the Net goes down, you're screwed. Not to mention security concerns--do SMB's trust Microsoft to keep their data secure?”

As I said, make accounting -- where most of the resistance lies – last on the list of Live Services and as a “dashboard” with hooks to existing accounting – QuickBooks, Great Plains, Peachtree, etc. As SMB’s see there are no data security issues with their less critical Business Live apps, they’ll come around.

”3. The delicious profit margins of selling packaged software. When the numbers hit the road, why would Ballmer or Raikes or anybody else at Microsoft want to trade in the possibility of selling Small Business Server--a one time sale, after the first [x] sales it's all profit--in favor of a subscription that can be cancelled well before recopuing.

Those delicious profit margins are from the “M” in SMB. Don’t stop doing that but concentrate on the “S”; teaming up with Chambers of Commerce, Bookkeepers and why not the Yellow Page guys/gals. They’d like the relationship, I’m sure. Lotsa MSFT “clout” here.

Move slowly and methodically towards the Business Live Services model. Build only the easy level first with promises of more full-featured Live Services.

”Personally, I think SaaS for businesses is a non-business except for a few very logical areas (e-mail, collaborative workspaces). Didn't work this time, won't work next time.

Was lumped in with dotcom busts. Stands by itself as a solution waiting for the small businesses to be made aware of the problem: “They have no single place to go to solve their costly small business promotion, contact, advertising, bookkeeping, point of sale, email, collaboration, etc. problems.

”Consumers and advertising, that's a model I understand."

Well, if you do, tell your employer because it’s not clear that they do!

”MSN may not be able to execute it, but it's out there, it's demonstrated, and it's going to get better.”

…Only if you make it better. Same applies to Business Live Services. If you just throw onesies and twosies at the business customer without a strategic systems approach to their small business problems, the results will be like so many other Microsoft projects…a good idea…left twisting in the wind!

Anonymous said...

"Yep, like someone said earlier. Once Bill is "gone" MS will be Ballmer's company lock, stock, and barrel. Ozzie's a brilliant guy, and certainly a well respected technical guy. But, he's not Bill and will likely not be able to stand up to the like of Ballmer, or even Mundie, Allard, Sinofsky, or even Raikes.

Ballmer's just a frat buddy with a big mouth. He can't manage innovation. Right now, technological innovation is in the driver's seat and not the "rantmaster".

No, Ray Ozzie is the new Bill: Kinder, softer, gentler with the Innovation Model on his side. However, he should be spending 50% of his time delegating and the other 50% gathering some more charisma and leadership skills. Passion can provide the impetus for meeting this goal and turning Microsoft into the company it truly needs to be. We are at a crossroads, Ray. Carpe Redmond!

Anonymous said...

Yep, like someone said earlier. Once Bill is "gone" MS will be Ballmer's company lock, stock, and barrel. Ozzie's a brilliant guy, and certainly a well respected technical guy. But, he's not Bill and will likely not be able to stand up to the like of Ballmer, or even Mundie, Allard, Sinofsky, or even Raikes.

The only guy that Ballmer could not run roughshod over was Gates. He knew Gates controlled his destiny. There will be less of that fear now. I don't even Ozzie's task. Ballmer will surely blame Ozzie for any product related issues that affect MS's profitability. And he runs the risk of going the way of many before him. Which would be really too bad. Even though they may be peers in the org chart, it's naive to think anyone but Ballmer will now be overseeing EVERYTHING.


While I agree that is one scenario that is possible, it does put a lot of faith into one particular requirement: SteveB still being employeed at Microsoft by the time Bill leaves...

Bill will still be involved once he goes part-time, he'll still be top of the food chain. If he sees Steve blaming his own failures on that of Bill's hand-picked successor, Steve will realize that maybe the shareholders were right and Steve needs to do some backside scraping on the sidewalk on 156th...And if Bill hasn't realized it by then, the shareholders will have already convinced the Board of it. BBB (Bald Boob Ballmer) is on his way out, he just doesn't know it yet. My 2-year old wouldn't have done any worse that BBB has and would likely have done a better job.

Anonymous said...

"Bill will still be involved once he goes part-time, he'll still be top of the food chain. If he sees Steve blaming his own failures on that of Bill's hand-picked successor, Steve will realize that maybe the shareholders were right and Steve needs to do some backside scraping on the sidewalk on 156th...And if Bill hasn't realized it by then, the shareholders will have already convinced the Board of it. BBB (Bald Boob Ballmer) is on his way out, he just doesn't know it yet. My 2-year old wouldn't have done any worse that BBB has and would likely have done a better job."

Steve Ballmer is no different than any other self-absorbed CEO...blissfully unaware of his extreme shortcomings. No, Steve will not, I repeat, will not "realize that maybe the shareholders were right" and move on.

Steve Ballmer must go the route of Carly Fiorina and be "golden parachuted" the hell out of here! That way, we can morph into the company we need to be without the impediment of a frat boy gone wild. Go write a book, Steve. Bon voyage! Bye, bye, so long, farewell!

Anonymous said...

The new internal transfer process is useless. You still have to inform your manager. You're still at risk of doing a career limiting move. I'd rather interview outside. It's a whole lot easier than doing an internal interview.

Anonymous said...


Wrong answer. Linux has a negligible market share so it does not make business sense to spend too much effort for it. Microsoft does develop office for Mac.

Linux desktop marketshare has passed the Mac desktop marketshare. So why no Office for Linux? Simple answer: Providing Office on Linux would further legitimize Linux as a viable desktop, undercutting the Windows desktop monopoly.

Apple likewise makes its money primarily off its hardware, and hence has no desire to provide its software on alternative low-cost hardware.