Microstiff - Microsoft Outings of the Third Kind

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Microstiff – Are Ozzie and Hairless Still the Honeymooners?

Is the relationship between Ray Ozzie and his Live Services and Steve Ballmer and his Live Service initiatives becoming strained? Redmond’s not saying so, but we are. Here’s why:

  • Although Ray’s a “head down” kind of a developer guy, he’s got enough of that right brain working for him that he surely sees that single gadgets do not a Live Services platform make. And yet, single gadgets are what they have. A series of “one trick ponies” each in their own corral.
  • While Steve Ballmer’s deciding whether to make Works into Live Works, Google just gave us “Docs & Spreadsheets”, a way to create and share documents and spreadsheets, online. SteveB, we’re talking Internet time, here!
  • Ballmer had a chance to do the ad thing with MySpace and…blew it! Couldn’t spend that much money. Poppycock! Didn’t have time for the pain…of spending that much money. Where does that put Live Services? Still crunching out hybrid gadgets with no place to sell them. Where is the mojo, I ask you?
  • Next up, YouTube. Blew by so fast SteveB didn’t even have a chance to adjust his shorts, take a stiff shot of Crown Royale, wait for the onions to descend and grab the brass ring. Gone…in Internet time! Ray asks, “What else can we buy, boss?”, SteveB coughs, his juevos rancheros return to their sanctuaries, and a deafening silence ensues.
  • Ray “The Tail” is now wagging Steve “The Dog” and…this dog ain’t huntin’! Ray’s building thingies and there’s no place to put ‘em!
  • Ray’s not talking like we’d like him to talk: Part programmer, part innovator, part carnival huckster. Again…where is the mojo? I know that, when the stress is on, it can be much easier to get lost in programming than to deal with innovation/sales issues. Is this the case? Where is the leadership, the press releases, the work in process, the Blog, the excitement?
  • Ray is an innovator in a non-innovating company with no innovation policies and his boss doesn’t seem willing to address that state of affairs. The desktop is his sanctuary (except for those juevos). Right now, Live Services has NO COMPELLING BUSINESS PROPOSITIONS! Where are those going to materialize from?
  • No, folks, unless there’s a new attitude at the top and one that operates in Internet time, Live Services, even WITH Ray Ozzie at the helm, seems doomed to be going the way of every other project of half measures at Microsoft -- a floundering ménage of mediocre features haphazardly mingled into a faux system of solutions with no corporate compass or accountability for their success or failure.

So, if Ray Ozzie isn’t disappointed with the performance of Steve Ballmer and wondering how his part of the company can succeed, well then...I am FOR him... disappointed and disillusioned! He’s like the heart of a teenager, transplanted and beating strongly in the body of a poly-addicted behemoth of minimum awareness. Will that body attack him as "foreign"; will he eventually be chewed up, spit out and be seen hightailing it back to Marblehead or Fargo, like the rest of them? Or will he go with Steve Ballmer -- " To the moon, Alice, to the moon!"



Mini-Microsoft: Random October Bits

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