Thursday, February 04, 2010

Too Big To Succeed

I gotta tell ya, it must have sucked to be Bill Gates today, waking up, and finding out one of his former VPs pissed all over his Coke can.

That would be Dick Brass, in an NYT Op-Ed today, writing that Microsoft, for all it's billions, is not much more then a Director's Cut of 'Heathers'.

Microsoft’s Creative Destruction

Microsoft has become a clumsy, uncompetitive innovator. Its products are lampooned, often unfairly but sometimes with good reason. Its image has never recovered from the antitrust prosecution of the 1990s. Its marketing has been inept for years; remember the 2008 ad in which Bill Gates was somehow persuaded to literally wiggle his behind at the camera?


For example, early in my tenure, our group of very clever graphics experts invented a way to display text on screen called ClearType. It worked by using the color dots of liquid crystal displays to make type much more readable on the screen. Although we built it to help sell e-books, it gave Microsoft a huge potential advantage for every device with a screen. But it also annoyed other Microsoft groups that felt threatened by our success.

Engineers in the Windows group falsely claimed it made the display go haywire when certain colors were used. The head of Office products said it was fuzzy and gave him headaches. The vice president for pocket devices was blunter: he’d support ClearType and use it, but only if I transferred the program and the programmers to his control. As a result, even though it received much public praise, internal promotion and patents, a decade passed before a fully operational version of ClearType finally made it into Windows.


Not everything that has gone wrong at Microsoft is due to internecine warfare. Part of the problem is a historic preference to develop (highly profitable) software without undertaking (highly risky) hardware. This made economic sense when the company was founded in 1975, but now makes it far more difficult to create tightly integrated, beautifully designed products like an iPhone or TiVo. And, yes, part of the problem has been an understandable caution in the wake of the antitrust settlement. Timing has also been poor — too soon on Web TV, too late on iPods.

No doubt, Stevie Ballmer was heaving a few chairs around the office today.

MG Siegler, on Tech Crunch;
Brass’ comments have caused such a fuss, that Microsoft’s vice president of corporate communications was even forced to respond on their official blog. And while obviously Microsoft’s PR team is going to downplay some of Brass’ comments, and refute others with counter examples, the post completely ignores what I see to be Brass’ main point: that Microsoft has become a place with dozens if not hundreds of civil wars going on within the company.

Rob Beschizza, at Boing Boing couldn't help but wonder "Imagine what would happen at Apple if whoever was in charge of iWork set out to suppress development of an iPad version because he didn't believe it was real computer."

Plots haven't been purchased, and headstones have not been engraved, just yet, but Sebastian Rupley, over on Gigacom has '3 Surprise Scenarios for Microsoft’s Future' that Billy and Stevie can mull over.

For there will be no rest for the company "Too Big To Succeed.

Bloomberg says "Google reportedly plans online store" and the Law Librarian Blog toots the trumpet for the soon-to-come "Google Pad, or gPad", singsonging that "I somehow think Google does projects such as a Google based tablet not to make money but to tweak their competitors. A dollar a consumer spends on Google hardware is a dollar not spent on Apple or Microsoft products."

Ah, like the movie;
But as Veronica soon learns, even death cannot stop the HEATHERS. As one Heather dies, her red scrunchee (the symbol of all power) gets passed on to the next Heather in line ...

Bonus MicroSuck Riffs

Law Google Fires Back At Ballmer - Microsoft Omitted From Searches; Google Maps Highlight Home

Breaking News! President Makes Unannounced, Surprise Visit To Redmond Tech Giant ...Bolten Continues White House Sweep; Boots Out Microsoft’s Gates and Bush Speechwriter ...Cites Need To Keep Week’s Momentum Going; Gates Long Tenure and Possible Economic Slump Prompted Action

Top Ten Cloves: Other Surprising Things Found With Microsoft’s New Windows Vista Software

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