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So what's wrong at Microsoft?

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  • User profile image
    Ray7

    Fortune has taken a rather bizarre approach to answering this question: asking folk who actually might know.

    A chat with a few ex-employees (some disgruntled, some not) reveals a raft of answers which aren't really that surprising.

    The worrying part was that the notion that there wasn't really much anyone can do about it.

    Maybe that's the most damning criticism offered by those who've devoted much of their work life to Microsoft: it is so unwieldy and complex a beast that even some of those who spent an hour or more telling me everything that's wrong with the company concede that, short of breaking it into two or more parts, the board has no choice but to stick with Ballmer and hope he can harness the company's considerable talents and turn things around

    Well worth reading, along with another article from 'Bash Microsoft March' which has a few interesting comments from the ill-fated Courier team

    One thing worth bearing in mind is that Microsoft is still a profit power house, and while they may be failing in the mobile space, their server and services division is going from strength to strength. As I've said before, MS is not going anywhere; it's just settling into an IBM-type retirement: high end business solutions and consultancy.

     

     

  • User profile image
    ManipUni

    Microsoft is absolutely an IBM. Too many old white guys running things.

    I'd break the company up. Fund a bunch of internal start-ups with their own internal budgets and have only the "CEO" of these new mini-companies answerable to the Microsoft board and management.

    Just tell employees "come with me with your ideas, if they're good we will give you $500K, some staff, and a profit sharing contract if you can make it work! If you fail, then you come work back and Microsoft and we give someone else a shot..."

  • User profile image
    Ian2

    high end business solutions and consultancy.

     

    Boring - I hope not.  What about Kinect, WP7 & and the forthcoming tablet stuff? 

    Personally I don't think Microsoft is ready to do an IBM just yet.

  • User profile image
    Bas

    What about Kinect, WP7 & and the forthcoming tablet stuff? 

    What forthcoming tablet stuff? I still have to see anything even remotely promising from Microsoft in that area that doesn't consist of a bunch of rumors.

    WP7: still way too early to tell. Yes, they have some good ideas on taking smartphones beyond the boring grid of icons, but it's hardly a desirable consumer product at this moment. It could be, undoubtedly, but if they blow it (and they seem hell-bent on blowing it) it could also crash and burn before the end of the year. Consumers sure don't seem crazy about it right now.

    Kinect: true. Whoever had the vision and balls to get that to market deserves all the listening ears at Microsoft he/she desires. If someone knows (or guessed) what consumers want, it's that person.

  • User profile image
    Ian2

    Agreed, but the fact that they are investigating in stuff so heavilly (and have been for some years) when it is still 'too early to tell' suggests that they are not in IBM mode just yet

  • User profile image
    SteveRichter

    you have to place the blame with Ballmer. How could windows mobile have failed? How can it be that so much of microsoft end user software is difficult to use? ( publisher, expression, access ). People are fleeing MSFT software to Apple - how embarassing.  Put Anders or Scott Gu in charge of the company.

  • User profile image
    figuerres

    Yeah i have said for a while that Steve is just not good as a "public face man" thats one problem.

    also more and more I get the feeling that they have reached a point where it gets hard to move them/ talk to them.

    recently I have been very very unhappy with the way LightSwitch seems to be going ....
    a number of developers have asked the LS team for simple things to get fixed / added in Beta 1 etc... and as far as i can tell none of the requests are going to be done.  it seems like they really are not interested in hearing that we need features and options that they did not plan on even if some of them are clearly possible to add / fix.

    when customers are telling you what they want you to put in the product and you tell the customers you will not do it or that you can't do it the customer will look for other solutions.

    is that any way to run a beta and gain early adopters of the product ?

    sure even without the stuff we want it's a cool product but ...

    if that example is happening in some form inside Microsoft with other product teams then i can see a very bad trend that in the end if it does not stop will lead to only having the most boring medicore products released from teams that do not care about them.

    I HOPE that does not happen!

  • User profile image
    Bass

    It would be more accurate to say Microsoft is turning into the IBM of the 60s and 70s. IBM today is a much smaller and focused company then they used to be.

    Anyway I think this kind of thing pops up in any organization that doesn't have the threat of competition overrunning them. Microsoft's hold on the PC desktop basically ensures them a constant and relatively stable flow of money coming in regardless what they do.

    In this way they are kind of like the government. Add in the fact that they have shareholders and overly paid upper management on the top sucking money from the people actually doing work, and you have a recipe for the disgruntled worker.

  • User profile image
    Ray7

    , SteveRichter wrote

    you have to place the blame with Ballmer. How could windows mobile have failed? How can it be that so much of microsoft end user software is difficult to use? ( publisher, expression, access ). People are fleeing MSFT software to Apple - how embarassing.  Put Anders or Scott Gu in charge of the company.

    I think they're failing because their heart isn't really in it. They WANT to be the next IBM, not the last Apple.

     

  • User profile image
    Ray7

    , Bass wrote

    It would be more accurate to say Microsoft is turning into the IBM of the 60s and 70s. IBM today is a much smaller and focused company then they used to be.

    Agree completely. As many have said, there is a cycle that company's with a monopoly market go through, and IBM is where Microsoft will end up after they're done throwing away their influence in guiding the future of the market. The infighting is precisely what IBM went through before taking a back seat.

    Anyway I think this kind of thing pops up in any organization that doesn't have the threat of competition overrunning them. Microsoft's hold on the PC desktop basically ensures them a constant and relatively stable flow of money coming in regardless what they do.

    Not so sure.

    Business users will never change, which is why MS wants to cozy up to them; they're easy to deal with and very predictable. Consumers baffle Microsoft, which is the weakness that the likes of Google and Apple will exploit to gain a foothold in the business market. Ten, fifteen years from now, people will go for a desktop system that is comfortably similar to their phone or their whateverpad. When this happens, MS will be left with enterprise servers and the like.

    Apple's advantage is a clear vision and nimble feet. By the time Google has taken over the mobile phone market, Cupertino will be inventing (re-packaging) the next big thing.

     

  • User profile image
    Setag_Yrneh

    @Ray7: Re: So what's wrong at Microsoft?

    I really don't have any insight on what Fortune says, but from a partner standpoint the following is wrong:

    1. Google gives it's BizApps partners free stuff such as free smart phones, I got 3 of them, a free Google TV, free laptops, free gigabit pipes, ect... They even give them cash for projects. I was able to meeting Google employees one on one at local restaurants and on campus to discuss issues. I was with a high level Googler at Dennys just 2 weeks ago for breakfast. That never happens with Microsoft in Socal. There is no technical users group that I know of.

    2. Microsoft gives it's associates nothing except some free software through Bizspark and a lot of promotional spam and promotional spam events at local hotel conference rooms. That doesn't really help anything.

    3. Their employees.

    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/interview_questions

    Generic Forum Image

    "Tell me why you think manhole covers are round?" *

    "* Author's note. I interviewed as a programmer at Microsoft when I was 19 and they asked me this question. Instead of answering I instead told them why I thought sewer poopies are shaped like little stinky submarines. This was a few minutes before I started ranting about how Windows ME was the worst thing to happen to computers since farm animal porn. I didn't get the job."

    Manhole covers are obviously round to keep the lazy city construction workers from tossing them into the sewer while they're distracted whistling at chix walking by.

    But this question is so easy it's patronizing the candidate. No intelligent person would bother answering. I literally had interviews where I was asked to recite the HTTP response codes from 100's all the way up to 500's even naming the obscure ones. If you missed one, you did not get the job.

    So what kind of people work there, when this is the type of logic questions that are asked?

     

    So in conclusion, they should:

    1. Make interviews harder.

    2. Give partners who they think are promoting their software more cash and free stuff to help them become economic power houses like our friends at Google do. And if those businesses happen to be partners of both, they should compete with Google for their attention with money and free stuff instead of letting Google take over.

  • User profile image
    Ray7

    I think we need a 'mark as fantasy' button.

  • User profile image
    blowdart

    , Setag_Yrneh wrote

    2. Give partners who they think are promoting their software more cash and free stuff to help them become economic power houses like our friends at Google do. And if those businesses happen to be partners of both, they should compete with Google for their attention with money and free stuff instead of letting Google take over.

    So what you're saying is you want bribes? You want Microsoft to pay you to use their systems and you're happy enough for google to do so?

  • User profile image
    Setag_Yrneh

    @blowdart: Please use corporate approved words.

    conversational marketing, not shills

    and mutually beneficial partnerships not bribes.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703620604575348963172170250.html

    I bet you call your waste sanitation engineer a garbage man.

    Please quiet down the cockney accent.

     

  • User profile image
    dahat

    Shame I'm posting from a non standard device or I would have a proper quote of you... But for the love god, why do we continue to allow this kind of racism fropeople who say trash like "Please quiet down the cockney accent" to other 9ers?

  • User profile image
    Setag_Yrneh

    @dahat: "Shame I'm posting from a non standard device or I would have a proper quote of you"

    Good point Dahat. I never have that problem. I use Android TM. Smiley

    Sounds like a mutually benificial partnership between Microsoft and Swype may be in order.

    http://swypeinc.com

    nm: They have it on the HTC HD2. With that said it's only been on every Android phone since 2.1 including MetroPCS no plan Android phones. IE, this $129 no plan phone has Swype: http://www.metropcs.com/shop/PhoneDetails.aspx?ProductId=HW-M860%28Phones%29

    Dahat obviously doesn't have the HD2?

     

  • User profile image
    blowdart

    , dahat wrote

    "Please quiet down the cockney accent" to other 9ers?

    Not really an insult to me, considering I'm not English Smiley Hence the ban hammer not coming out

  • User profile image
    dahat

    Racism is racism... Even when the speaker doesn't know his target well enough to direct a proper and accurate slur... Granted this is also the person who keeps making fat jokes about me unpunished... Perhaps I should gain a few... Then he'd warent a banning, right?

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