Microsoft ‘no longer brings us the future,’ says former exec

Windows 7 may have pushed Microsoft’s revenue to record levels last quarter, but a former executive still has a dim outlook on the company’s future. The root of the problem? The company’s alleged inability to innovate.

Writing in the New York Times’ op-ed section, former Microsoft VP Dick Brass ponders why Microsoft "no longer brings us the future." As he points out, many new and innovative products from the past decade or so—the iPad, Amazon’s Kindle, the BlackBerry, the iPhone, the iPod, Google, iTunes, Facebook, and Twitter—all originated at other companies. Microsoft, meanwhile, continues to get the lion’s share of its profits from Windows and Office, products deeply rooted in the past. Brass believes the firm "can’t count on these venerable products to sustain it forever."

The former executive goes on to call Microsoft a "clumsy, uncompetitive innovator," saying its grip on high-end laptops, smart phones, and web browsers is slipping, while the Xbox 360 is failing to outshine other consoles. Part of the problem, he asserts, is that Microsoft "never developed a true system for innovation." Quite the opposite:

Internal competition is common at great companies. It can be wisely encouraged to force ideas to compete. The problem comes when the competition becomes uncontrolled and destructive. At Microsoft, it has created a dysfunctional corporate culture in which the big established groups are allowed to prey upon emerging teams, belittle their efforts, compete unfairly against them for resources, and over time hector them out of existence. It’s not an accident that almost all the executives in charge of Microsoft’s music, e-books, phone, online, search and tablet efforts over the past decade have left.

We can sense some amount of bitterness between the lines as Brass explains how he attempted to push tablet PCs and e-books at Microsoft ten years back, largely without success. His article includes telling anecdotes. When his team came up with ClearType font rendering technology, for instance, Brass claims Microsoft’s VP of pocket devices refused to support the technology unless he got control over the program and its programmers. Windows engineers also lied about the subpixel hinting causing display problems. In the end, "a decade passed before a fully operational version of ClearType finally made it into Windows."

Brass isn’t without praise for Microsoft; he applauds CEO Steve Ballmer for delivering "over $100 billion" in profits over the past 10 years, and he acclaims Bill Gates for his philanthropic efforts. However, he believes Microsoft may not survive unless it "regains its creative spark."

Comments closed
    • yuhong
    • 13 years ago

    At least it is internal-only and only employees have to deal with it. It doesn’t harm outside competition or customers anyway.

    • mcnabney
    • 13 years ago

    Considering the size of the development team and the number of years they had to get it out the door the new feature list is pathetic. Hardly any new features – just putting more lipstick on the pig.
    Why do I still have to install numerous codecs to just get the system to play the most common varieties of video in their respective containers?
    The changes to the desktop is minimal.
    Changes to mediacenter is pathetic. I amstill using Media Browser because Microsoft just doesn’t have a clue.
    They roll out Homegroups – but didn’t bother considering that 99.99% of households aren’t Win7 only? Hell, did they even think of supporting their own products – like WHS? Nice idea, too bad it is worthless without compatibility.
    DX11 leaked back to Vista.
    Made UAC simpler and far less effective.
    They didn’t even bother fixing simple things. In the age of 64 bit computing it really isn’t that unusual to have desktops with 8+GB of system memory, buy stupid windows is still dumping crap into a too-large page file and leaving 6 GB of physical memory useless. Whatever happened to their advanced caching? Idiots.

    • rrode74
    • 13 years ago

    The Xbox division, which now includes the Zune and the all models of Xbox’s has NEVER made a dime.

    Sure they have sold many consoles and games, but the division has never reported a profit after 7+ years.

    I am sure the shareholders effing love that fact. In cost a lot of money to startup, design, build and support a game console. MS took a 1 billion, as in the hole, write off just for the RROD issues.

    • rrode74
    • 13 years ago

    Really?

    §[<http://www.informationweek.com/news/government/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=221100129<]§ You are delusional. Sure Microsoft has a good set of products. However so do many others and I am not talking open source stuff. Lots of big names like IBM have services that can easily replace major parts of your Microsoft Infrastructure. Visual studio is great, but Java development (like it or not) still has more market share. Making comments like yours only shows your narrow and limited experience in IT.

    • NeXus 6
    • 13 years ago

    “You lose”? Is this a contest? lol

    He denies the ‘640k’ quote in later interviews, but in that 1989 speech he’s basically saying the same f’ing thing in that he thought 640k memory “would be enough”, “would last for ten years”, etc. If you want to argue about his exact words then be my guest because I don’t give a flying f**k.

    The bottom line is that he made a bad prediction as proven in that 1989 speech and then later denied it because it made him look bad.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 13 years ago

    If you actually listen to it he gets more specific. He expected it to be fine for 10 years but insteadn it ‘only’ lasted 6 years. That’s an ternity in today’s technology timeframes but it was still a good long while back then.

    • Tarkin
    • 13 years ago

    If you think that’s the same thing, you obviously don’t have a very good grasp of the english language, and thus the discussions over, and you lose.

    You have fun chewing on your shoe… I’d also suggest that while you’re chewing on your shoe you do a bit further reading.

    §[<http://www.amazon.com/English-Grammar-Dummies-Geraldine-Woods/dp/0764553224<]§

    • blastdoor
    • 13 years ago

    I agree that this is the key weakness in Brass’ argument. MS has a very strong position in the business world and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. It’s also the reason that I think that MS has brighter long term prospects in the smartphone world than many people realize. All MS has to do is get a version of windows mobile out there that users will grudgingly tolerate (so long as their employer provides the phone for free), and they’ll sell a ton.

    • NeXus 6
    • 13 years ago

    /[<"felt like something that would last a great deal of time."<]/ So, genius, what was he thinking when he said this? Gates already admitted that he and everyone else say "stupid things" from time to time. He's on audio basically admitting that he thought 640k was going to "last a great deal of time." It's the same thing if you ask me.

    • djgandy
    • 13 years ago

    Yeah, try msdn’s equivalent for linux. It simply does not exist in the same detail and depth.

    • djgandy
    • 13 years ago

    MS has finally realised in recent years that you can’t expect home users to pay £200+ for office. That’s why you can now get it for ~£50. There are even better offers for students too.

    • Tarkin
    • 13 years ago

    So you’re seriously going to continue to spread a misquote because YOU THINK he was thinking it? Talk about loss of all credibility. That’s one of the most asinine statement’s I’ve ever seen seen posted here.

    • PeterD
    • 13 years ago

    MS is not sitting on its laurels, but it has never done anything really innovative or creative either, and that’s the rub.

    Meanwhile, pc’s have become enormously powerfull, and are so powerfull that most users only use part of the available power.

    That means that less efficient programs can do the same job is very efficient programs, and that means open source software, written by collaborating “amateurs”, becomes a serious threat to MS.

    Moreover: if a program was good enough ten years ago, it might also be good enough now. And that means you don’t have to buy a new one.
    So, who’s MS going to sell to?

    As such that shouldn’t be a real problem, but the IT industry as a whole is based on the fact that people buy new goodies before the old ones are irrepairably broken.

    If that habit goes down because people don’t find real incentives to buy the new stuff, than the IT industry has a serious problem.

    And than MS, which is not an innovator, has the biggest problem of them all.

    MS has been a money making machine thanks to the proliferation of pc’s. But that proliferation will end sooner or later.

    Look at the best known successfull computer company: Apple. They got out of the mud thanks to… a music player! Even Apple isn’t really turning to computers anymore to make money. Their computers aren’t their main product anymore, but a kind of steady seller. It’s more underpinning their sales strategy, then being at the centre of their sales strategy.

    That’s why MS is so afraid of Google and Firefox. That’s why they tried so hard to fight the European decision to give people the chance to install the browser of their own choice.

    MS is panicking at the moment. Look at the way the imitate Google and other cloud software by introducting Windows Live. Nobody nééds W Live. It’s only MS which thinks that people like Google Docs etc. because it’s cloud computing. But that’s not true.

    And because MS is panicking, they’re throwing away good products (although they might need improvements), and are only imitating the others – again.

    Sooner or later they will pay the price for that behaviour.

    (but, honestly, I wouldn’t care)

    • PeterD
    • 13 years ago

    OpenOffice.org is more than sufficient for home users.

    • cygnus1
    • 13 years ago

    Exactly. MS bends over backwards for developers. And with minimal training you can a moderately astute person automating business functions inside excel or access. And then if it needs to be made stand alone, you can hire a developer fairly inexpensively to do that too. And it all lives inside a platform with which users are already familiar.

    • jstern
    • 13 years ago

    Thank you, I’m learning some new shortcut that will improve things for me.

    • Sahrin
    • 13 years ago

    You have no idea what you are talking about.

    §[<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Features_new_to_Windows_7<]§

    • mcnabney
    • 13 years ago

    XP wasn’t stable until SP2. Win7 IS Vista SP2 with some UI changes.

    • mcnabney
    • 13 years ago

    Hey! I am still using my Microsoft Wireless Router.
    As a bonus, if I do too much upload streaming the router will freeze and I will have to unplug it for a minute. It works almost all of the time, so I haven’t bothered replacing it.

    • ludi
    • 13 years ago

    /[

    • mcnabney
    • 13 years ago

    I believe that was the executives whole point. Microsoft is sitting on its laurels, filling the roll of a cash cow, and maximizing the profits for the two monopolies that it does have.
    Those massive profits are from Win7 which is just a bug-fixed Vista (actual version of Win7 is Windows 6.1) with a slighly different UI. The reason they made those profits was because they can force their user-base to pay for a bug-fix to a previously purchased product.
    Everything Microsoft does is engineered to maintain the monopoly and not develop new products.
    Case in point – to upstage the iPad they showed off a lame tablet at CES. That was the perfect time to show-off Courier, but they are too stupid and entrenched to think in terms of innovation. Courier is probably in the process of being Window-ified and will resemble Win7 when it launches rather than being a completely new interface.
    Another example is Win Mobile. They failed to gain monopoly status due to Apple and RIM. Without the monopoly Microsoft has to compete and provide a better product. They have utterly failed. RIM, Apple, Palm, and Android are ALL gaining marketshare in the smartphone segment at the expense of Windows Mobile. WM7 is now delayed until 2011. By then there may be no market share left. If so, there is a chance that MS will leave the smartphone market entirely. That is a prime example of how MS operates. They only want to do business from a monopolistic advantage. If they can’t be the winner and control the medium from the get-go, they don’t want to put any effort into it.

    • Welch
    • 13 years ago

    Yeah… ummm thats not a comment, that’s a rant lol. I don’t think you got it…. Mr “Dick” is attempting to say, other than Windows that they came out with FREAKING YEARS AGO!!!………….. What has Microsoft put out that was innovative. And on that front you have to admit the man is right. Its not to say that Microsoft claimed that they were the first to invent everything, or should *Try*. Its not even that he is attempting to compare the above list to windows, you made that connection yourself.

    But for the sake of “What the hell” lets compare the listed items to things that windows HAS done that are either similar or a knock-off.

    iPad – Stupid thing to even say was innovative lol… but ok

    iPod – The Zune (although I think the zune might be better price wise) they weren’t first and it was something made to compete with the Ipod.

    Google – Bing… Desperate attempt to take over the search market.

    iTunes – The new Microsoft store, not quite perfectly comparable as this was meant to be for music at the start and now encompasses all sorts of junk.

    Facebook – MS started its own facebook/myspace lookalike tied to your windows live/hotmail/msn loggin. Sure they had this stuff for years but it was just a information page about yourself, not a network site… another copy.

    Twitter – I don’t think they copied this and I’m glad they haven’t 😛 one less pointless website.

    The other items I didn’t label is probably because they didn’t have a comprable item (that i’m aware of) or if they did….. it failed (Like Microsoft wireless routers)

    • PetMiceRnice
    • 13 years ago

    To me it sounds like a classic case of sour grapes. It could be said that the Xbox 360 has had a lot of technical difficulties, but it continues to sell well. A lot of people gripe about Windows, but it remains the de facto standard for operating systems on the PC. And the last I looked, the PC still has the lion’s share of the computer market.

    • Kharnellius
    • 13 years ago

    Didn’t sound like an opinion to me. What are you getting at?

    • Kharnellius
    • 13 years ago

    Agreed! blahblahbalh

    • Kharnellius
    • 13 years ago

    Why do you bother posting? I actually enjoy reading Walt’s comments. You’re like his little shadow hoping to become a real boy some day, lol.

    • blastdoor
    • 13 years ago

    yeah, i was pretty excited about sharepoint when I first saw it, but my enthusiasm has waned. Now it’s just another interface — another thing to learn. It hasn’t completely replaced other ways of organizing information in our office, it’s just added yet another one, and in that sense it’s kind of unsatisfying.

    • NeelyCam
    • 13 years ago

    This sort of stuff happens in companies all the time. “Anticompetitive practices”, as you call it, is a proven and effective way to climb the ladder to the American Dream.

    Backstabbing is easier than working hard, and mid- to high-level managers continue to have their power struggles driven by greed (er.. I mean, “ambition”) – there are only so many spots available at the top, someone has to be collateral damage.

    Unlike the market place, there is little or zero regulation to prevent this from happening. Regulation would have to be implemented by the few who made it to the top, and more often than not, they used the same approach to get there, and consider it to be acceptable.

    • jstern
    • 13 years ago

    OneNote is awesome. I’m so much more organized because of it. I would consider it an innovative product. SkyDrive has also been very useful to me. So in a way Microsoft has made my life a little easier. X-Box broke down once, with a 1 ring of death.

    • shaq_mobile
    • 13 years ago

    It’s okay. We use it at work to track alot of our documentation for software and legal documents for healthcare. I think the biggest reason why it’s in the future for most companies is because they end up signing deals with Microsoft to not use any competing products. Thats what we did. So, no Wikihospitalstuff for us 🙁

    It feels kind of clumsy sometimes, but it integrates decently with office. I’d liek to see where they take it.

    • shaq_mobile
    • 13 years ago

    Windows is interesting. People knock it when programs crash and things go wrong but from a pc technician standpoint at a 6000 employee (3000 computer) company, I think it’s doing just fine. We have about 60 work tickets come in everyday to fix computer related issues. Maybe 3-4 are direct windows issues. We are running several 10+ year old programs, no sweat. We have more issues with both smartphones and printers than with windows.

    We are running about twenty different models of printers on a print server thats accessed probably 100,000 times a day. The only notable microsoft related issue is when we have too many phased-out printers installed on a computer, the spooler will crash. I see that about once a day.

    XP is a pretty darn good operating system. Windows 7 and more patched versions of Vista are pretty darn functional as well. I dunno, I think Microsoft is doing okay with windows/office. I can’t imagine we will change to anything else anytime in the next ten years at least. It would require a massive paradigm shift in the OS world.

    • kvndoom
    • 13 years ago

    Shucks, I think it’d be cool, especially filling out forms that specify “Last Name, First Name.”

    • dpaus
    • 13 years ago

    I remember running my Zenith Z-100 with 768 KBytes of RAM. It made a significant difference with Windows 1.0 (which was actually released for the Zenith first)

    • PeterD
    • 13 years ago

    Or WordPerfect.
    Hidden codes? Anyone?

    • PeterD
    • 13 years ago

    Depends on when you were born. 🙂

    • PeterD
    • 13 years ago

    Or he might think: “Why didn’t he say that before?”

    • Vrock
    • 13 years ago

    Brevity is a virtue.

    • Vrock
    • 13 years ago

    It really was a brazen thing to say, and he kind of came off like a dick.

    • PeterD
    • 13 years ago

    MS even bought it’s MS-DOS from another company.
    What’s that for innovation?

    • herothezero
    • 13 years ago

    q[

    • alphaGulp
    • 13 years ago

    Very interesting. How ironic that the same anti-competitive practices would flourish internally. Not surprising at all, seeing how in the eyes of top MS execs, this type of behavior is not just defensible but actually is rationalized into being something just and necessary: “you need to stab the competing teams in the back – after all, the other teams are all doing it!”. If that type of thinking is necessary to compete publicly, then you might as well make sure you develop the necessary talent in-house 😛

    Evidently, you can’t accurately paint MS in either black or white: compared to an efficient system, of course they suck, but they still have tons of earnest and hard-working people over there.

    These days I’m especially impressed with C# and WPF/Silverlight. Java better watch out, ‘cos its language and ecosystem are now seriously lacking in a lot of ways, comparatively speaking 🙂

    • Krogoth
    • 13 years ago

    Nitpick, IBM actually imposed that “640KiB” limit on conventional memory.

    • yogibbear
    • 13 years ago

    Well it was an innovative warranty system…

    • Hattig
    • 13 years ago

    Outlook defines the exact opposite of innovation.

    It takes a set of functions that were already done elsewhere very well, and bundled them together in the worst possible way with half-assed implementations (seriously, Word as a HTML email viewer?!).

    On the other hand, compare it to Lotus Notes…

    Microsoft does have innovative software. Some of it is even developed in house. Visual Studio is one such product.

    In the 90s Microsoft took ideas and made them work. The company doing that right now, and for the past five years or so is Apple. Apple bought in iTunes, bought in the original iPod, but has innovated with these assets.

    Innovation doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and often builds upon the work of others – a cumulative innovation. iPad OS builds upon iPhone OS (innovative touch interface, on-device app store, usability), which built upon stylus OSes like PalmOS in the past (very innovative), and so on, and so forth.

    • djgandy
    • 13 years ago

    But, but but ….. what about open source?

    Visual Studio is a product for that list too. OSS zealots will give you a list of products that do not compare in any way shape or form. Stick Visual Assist X on it and everything else looks like notepad.

    Microsoft’s business/enterprise products wipe the floor with open source and cheaper alternatives, with a few exceptions of course. No one is going to deny that Apache is a good web server, MySQL is a decent SQL server for most needs and Linux is a good operating system. These are well established products though and they have good documentation.

    Once you start deviating from the extremely widely used products the competition cannot keep the documentation level to that which Microsoft offers. In open source, the source code becomes the documentation and everything seems to head towards command line if a GUI is not 100% required (because we only have 640×480 monitors?). Some things need explaining, and who better to explain how to use a piece of software than the people who designed it? Design concepts are often important when using software, and if you don’t know about them you can’t take advantage of them.

    That’s the biggest difference if you ask me. When I was a kid I’d happily sit around playing with stuff and figuring it out, but I didn’t have a deadline. Now day’s spending a Month figuring out the best way to configure some software because I am unsure of how it was intended to be used is not an option. I just want to use the bloody thing to do the job I need.

    • djgandy
    • 13 years ago

    So what, why jump on the bandwagon? Microsoft is producing much better software these days and thankfully they are really focusing on their core products and consistency across lines. Hopefully WinMo 7 continue this trend (I’m skeptical) and slot into their line up nicely. Previous WinMo is a product of the Microsoft that you talk about.

    • NeXus 6
    • 13 years ago

    /[<"I have to say in 1981 making those decisions I felt like I was providing enough freedom for ten years, that is the move from 64k to 640k felt like something that would last a great deal of time"<]/ Audio clip: §[<http://csclub.uwaterloo.ca/media/1989%20Bill%20Gates%20Talk%20on%20Microsoft<]§ Quote is at 22:28 The famous "640k" quote from 1981 may not be true, but he sure was thinking it at the time.

    • Pettytheft
    • 13 years ago

    Addling to the warm feeling. Great post Walt.

    • Meadows
    • 13 years ago

    I’m only replying because you get no love and will continue to, as long as this “too long, didn’t read” madness continues where you author a whole blog and nickname it a “comment”.

    I hope this makes you feel warm. 😉

    • d0g_p00p
    • 13 years ago

    Bill Gates never stated that. Why do people still post this. Jesus, learn your computer history.

    • Meadows
    • 13 years ago

    g{<'nuff said<}g You don't know what "enough" is. Talk about another wall of text where a single sentence would've sufficed. Seriously, lol

    • stmok
    • 13 years ago

    And you base this opinion on what?

    • WaltC
    • 13 years ago

    Don’t forget, as well, that back in those days (early 80’s) system ram was incredibly expensive (not to mention slow as molasses) compared to the norm today. Back then a single megabyte of ram could cost as much as $150-$200 per megabyte–it would be a full decade later before ram dropped to the “low, low, low” price of “just” $50 per MEGabyte on average…;)

    And of course the “640k” limit was imposed by Intel, not Microsoft, on the early x86 processors. You could install a full megabyte of ram in a motherboard in those days, but the early x86 Intel cpus could only access 640K of it–the remainder sometimes was used for other housekeeping chores, and sometimes it just was wasted on doing nothing.

    I also recall Gates being asked about “multitasking” and stating that it would take “at least two megabytes” of system ram to create a multitasking environment–and there I was at the time happily multitasking away on my Amiga 2000 with 512k of ram–which I later upgraded to a whopping 1 megabyte…;) And I was multitasking preemptively as well–something neither Windows nor Apple would be doing for a long, long time.

    Yes, Gates was wrong about a long of things in those early days, but the thing that impresses me is that the things he was interested in at the time, and the things he got right at the time, proved to have a longevity that no other software company has since been able to match.

    While everybody else was concentrating on selling their custom hardware at exorbitant profits (SUN, Apple, IBM, and Commodore’s Amiga, for instance, just to name some of them) Microsoft was interested in supporting the “open” and emerging “x86” hardware standards with OSes that supported more hardware and were more compatible with x86 application software than anybody else could and more importantly *would* do during those early years.

    Back then, in the early to middle 80’s, most x86-powered machines were physically incompatible with each other to degree that software that ran on a Tandy “IBM-compatible” box wouldn’t run on an IBM, and vice-versa; or a Compaq would not run the software you could run on an HP, and vice versa, as every brand of x86 machine ran its own custom hardware and required its own custom version of a DOS. How well I recall removing my 5 1/4″ program floppy from a Tandy 1000 and attempting to load the same program into an IBM PC XT (if I recall correctly–it’s been a *long* time) only to have the IBM display the following message on screen: “This program was written to run on a Tandy 1000 and will not run on this IBM computer”…!

    Microsoft got its OS act into gear in the mid-to-late 80’s and proceeded to help create the x86 hardware standards that we take for granted today, and to develop operating systems that would support *all* of the emerging x86 “100% IBM PC compatible” clones that were being manufactured by hundreds of companies around the world.

    It was a gargantuan effort that literally took a couple of decades to bring off–but with the cooperation of the hardware OEMs who decided to work together on establishing x86 hardware standards, in order to create a much larger market than they had ever known before, Microsoft brought it off.

    And that is precisely why today you can walk into a store and buy a 3d-accelerator or a PSU or system ram or even cpus and motherboards right off the shelf, and put them into the x86 OEM clone of your choice, or build your own machine from scratch, and *expect it to work* while these components boot happily into the version of Windows you also bought off the shelf.

    The way things turned out is a little weird, and slightly disappointing, as I was a huge Amiga devotee/guru for eight magnificently fun years. But the nostalgia is easily offset by the convenience and the by-comparison rock-bottom pricing that x86 economies of scale have produced for both software and hardware. Competition is fierce, and unlike the old days in which hardware advances sometimes took years to reach fruition and OS support, the x86 hardware economies of scale proved so compelling economically in the end that even Apple succumbed and the Mac today will therefore happily boot into Windows natively–because for all intents and purposes the Mac today is as much an x86 clone as an HP or Dell, etc. The bang-for-buck value the establishment of the x86 Windows software and x86 hardware market has provided is without equal in the history of personal computer development.

    OK, I’m sick of nostalgia….:D ’nuff said.

    • no51
    • 13 years ago
    • NeXus 6
    • 13 years ago

    It was such a foolish thing to say at the time that he had to say, when asked about it some 15 years later, he never said it.

    • WaltC
    • 13 years ago

    /[

    • bthylafh
    • 13 years ago

    Red Ring of Death? Innovative.

    • blastdoor
    • 13 years ago

    ugh… I despise the ribbon :-/

    • Arag0n
    • 13 years ago

    the xbox 360 live services are also innovative into consoles systems…. but he forgot that ps3 is playing a catch up with xbox 360 services.

    • herothezero
    • 13 years ago

    q[

    • anotherengineer
    • 13 years ago

    or maybe he just has moral’s and want to be creative and proactive.

    • Peffse
    • 13 years ago

    I think some of Microsoft’s applications should come preloaded with the jaws theme.

    • wira020
    • 13 years ago

    I would like to point out that iPad is NOT AN INNOVATION OF ANY SORTS!!!!

    For all i know, JooJoo is launched earlier…

    • Ragnar Dan
    • 13 years ago

    Brass Richard, natch.

    • wira020
    • 13 years ago

    More like, Dick Steel!

    • wira020
    • 13 years ago

    So.. we have no future left?

    • Ragnar Dan
    • 13 years ago

    Yes, MS really does need to produce something innovative like the iPad. Or the Edsel. Or New Coke.

    Ahem. It’s been a commonplace among economists for decades that companies which are attacked by the DoJ for antitrust violations quickly lose their nimbleness, and become lawyer-dominated bureaucratic/sclerotic hulks. What happened to IBM starting in the 1970’s was the example used for a number of years in economic journals. It takes a lot of management work to overcome that.

    I’m not saying that’s all that’s wrong with MS, but it harmed them.

    • dalisam
    • 13 years ago

    And how would his name appear in the phonebook?

    • BiffStroganoffsky
    • 13 years ago

    I wonder if he has a brother named Steely Dan.

    • BiffStroganoffsky
    • 13 years ago

    D@mn, late again!

    • BooTs
    • 13 years ago

    SharePoint seems pretty innovative. I’ve made some great use out of it at work for non-tech people. I think a lot of people would agree it is part of “the future” for corporate environments.

    Also, it may just be me, but the level of English skills in the comments for this article seems lower than normal for TR.

    • Rza79
    • 13 years ago

    Agree 100%

    • Welch
    • 13 years ago

    This isn’t far from the truth AT ALL……. And I say this only because I had the opportunity to talk with two online friends, one of which used to be an intern and then worked at for Microsoft for roughly 4 years and the other was currently an intern at MS. Both had very similar experiences there, where Interns feel threatened by those who have been there longer and even the chief techs are constantly attempting to win something over on one another. Not like you’d expect a multi-billion dollar company to operate. If anything you’d expect them to be competitive in a positive way not pitting their employees against each other. The first thing that came to mind when they were talking about this was High-school seniors picking on Freshman “Just because” its a tradition, immature and non-productive.

    So for this former exec to say the same thing, i’m far from surprised and kind of glad to know that there is much truth in this.

    • Tarkin
    • 13 years ago

    Hey, I have a great idea, i’ll just keep quiting something that was never actually said… Oh yeah, and i’ll eat my shoe while I do it, my foot tastes so yummy

    §[<http://groups.google.com/group/alt.folklore.computers/browse_thread/thread/9a98d2fa1e23a43f/99ce4b0555bf35f4<]§

    • NeelyCam
    • 13 years ago

    So ‘five minutes ago’…

    • cygnus1
    • 13 years ago

    Now

    • fyo
    • 13 years ago

    The Xbox 360 is innovative? I think you need to look up the word innovative.

    Microsoft have innovated, but not with the 360.

    As for Natal… you do realize that the key technology was developed by as Israeli company and sold to Microsoft in 2008 (after being turned down by Nintendo, interestingly enough). That’s not to say that MS haven’t worked (and are working) to piece everything together and (providing it works as advertised) there deserve a lot of credit.

    The bottom line is, and this was the crux of the article, Microsoft doesn’t really seem to be innovating much; if you list the top “key tech innovations” of the past decade, I think you’ll get quite far indeed down the list before you get to something that Microsoft was responsible for.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 13 years ago

    When?!?

    • provoko
    • 13 years ago

    Xbox 360 is pretty f’in innovative. And if Natal ever comes out, it’ll take it from 1 to 2.

    I always thought the office ribbon was really innovative.

    I’ll agree though, relaying on windows & office will be bad.

    • cygnus1
    • 13 years ago

    People that say MS can’t expect Windows/Office (including the backend parts Sharepoint, SQL, Exchange, etc) to carry them for long are deluded. There is no competitor on the planet that offers anything similar to what MS offers to businesses. Sure, you can get parts of what MS offers from different vendors, but not the whole and certainly not integrated nearly as well if at all.

    • Vasilyfav
    • 13 years ago

    The future is already here.

    • Hemotoxin
    • 13 years ago

    r[

    • dpaus
    • 13 years ago

    Oooo, never considered that 2nd definition, but so true. MS-Project, Office, Bristol Technology, anyone?

    No, I’m thinking of an end-user application that truly revolutionized the industry, the way WordStar/Multimate did, the way Visicalc/Lotus 1-2-3 did, or the way the Xerox Star or Apple Lisa did, etc.

    • bdwilcox
    • 13 years ago

    Or maybe he’s just an angry guy. Considering his parents named him Dick Brass, we at least know where his anger comes from.

    • Peffse
    • 13 years ago

    Depends on your definition of “killer app”. If you are talking about an application that is highly innovative and easily accessible… I might have to come back to you in a while.
    If you are talking about an application that was pushed so hard in a consumer’s face that it killed all alternatives, there are plenty.

    • Peffse
    • 13 years ago

    This time he can jump, collect powerups and even use fireballs!

    • ClickClick5
    • 13 years ago

    Sounds like Nintendo with their games.

    “Hey guys, here is Mario….again!”

    • dpaus
    • 13 years ago

    Innovation, thy nemesis is beauracracy. As soon as an organization gets big enough to have divisions with their own budgets, power struggles erupt. Making your division’s quarterly numbers becomes far more important than helping to strategically position the overall entity for 3 – 4 years out.

    Personally, I’d debate whether Microsoft has ever really been a leader in innovation. Can someone nominate a “killer app” that was born, raised and became successful entirely within the walls of Redmond?

    • NeXus 6
    • 13 years ago

    “640K ought to be enough for anybody.” — Bill Gates, 1981

    • blastdoor
    • 13 years ago

    I like the phrase “bringing us the future”. That’s a much better choice of words than “creating the future”, because Microsoft seldom ever created anything. Just like Apple does today, Microsoft would find great ideas, buy/copy them, and integrate them into a coherent whole product.

    I’m not criticizing this at all — it’s a valuable contribution, but one that Microsoft no longer makes. There’s a lot of good technology inside MS, but they seem to have a very hard time bringing it altogether into coherent products anymore. Sort of like Apple in the early 90s (except that Microsoft can muddle on for much longer in this mode than Apple ever could).

    • NeelyCam
    • 13 years ago

    In his article:

    *[<"At worst, you can say it’s a highly repentant, largely accidental monopolist. "<]* *[<"No one in his right mind should wish Microsoft failure."<]* But then, from §[<http://www.seattlepi.com/business/bras11.shtml<]§ *[<"Brass even acknowledges being an accomplice to the group of Silicon Valley executives that worked behind the scenes to help persuade the Justice Department to bring its antitrust suit against Microsoft."<]* I don't know what's going on, but either this guy has a personal vendetta against his former employee, or is a whiny b*tch who didn't get enough millions he thought he deserved. Either way, I don't like him

    • zimpdagreene
    • 13 years ago

    I have to agree 100% that Microsoft has done anything to or I say enough to innovate. They are just pushing around cash and as stated there fast slipping control over operating systems. The money they made is like blood to vampires.And as stated to many vampires looking and sucking off the blood!

    But apple is some of the same way to. They just push out the new with complete control over how it operates and what you can put on it from a developer and consumer standpoint.

    • bentbent
    • 13 years ago

    tetingeime eope creo

    • bentbent
    • 13 years ago

    test123456789

    • bdwilcox
    • 13 years ago

    “In other news, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, upon hearing the comments made by a former Microsoft vice president concerning Microsoft’s inability to innovate stated, “That guy has brass balls saying something like that.”

    • bentbent
    • 13 years ago

    Sounds true, sadly.

    • bdwilcox
    • 13 years ago

    Dick Brass. (giggles like a little school girl)

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