Microstiff - Microsoft Outings of the Third Kind

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Microstiff - Where’s Ray Ozzie and…Why It Doesn’t Matter?

Mini of Mini-Microsoft fame just posed the question which has been on my mind of late and, perhaps yours too: “Where’s Ray Ozzie?” Where is this creator of Lotus Notes, the greatest collaboration tool ever developed for emailers and information processors and database creators alike? And, why does it matter where he is?

Is it possible that Ray has had his 15 minutes? Ray brought the business world databases hooked up to email and, in doing so, made it easy for us to collaborate and…launch events through simple email “agents.” His database synchronization schemes are the best on the planet and keep the team in London constantly aware of the latest and greatest in Boston and visa-versa.

His sheer genius is that he CREATED those two concepts and remains the master of them. His only Blog to Microsofties deals with another “simple” advancement: the ability to trade information (cut and paste) between live XHTML pages; again, novelty and creativity within the computer application development cycle. Anecdotally, his glee over this simple concept, within his one and only Blog to date suggests Ray’s hot button is “simple invention to enhance the lives of the masses.”

And so, why would a guy who gets up every morning to do just that, choose to energize a company which has no intention of getting up every morning to do just that? Did he strike a “get out of Dodge deal” with Bill? In other words, “Here’s the way it has to work, Bill; you’re impeding it and you gotta stop." Unlikely. Besides, Vista and Office are simple proof that there is no intention to enhance the lives of the masses. The spate of recent articles examining Vista indicates that the product makes most people’s lives MORE miserable on every front except eye candy and…recent reports from users say the candy even gets old. The Office ribbon…which promises to make you “fluent” literally shoves it down your throat with no way out. Are these the products of a company that wants “simple invention to enhance the lives of the masses”? In a word…no.

And so, Ray and Bill are oil and water, fire and rain having nothing in common but mutually misguided awe for each other. Is Ray just another trophy in the lobby at Redmond? Another flame extinguished; another CEO sent high tailing it back to Fargo?

Microsoft behavior, coming right from the top, is like that of the alcoholic that has finally let his addiction affect his job. First it was the family, with the late nights, the yelling, the abuse (employees). Then came inattention to and abuse of friends (vendors, customers, partners) and finally, the job: Late for work (late to market); poor performance (poor products); inappropriate behavior (lawsuits against small guys, cutthroat business practices, wild spending on meaningless advertising campaigns).

Addiction counselors know that when the addiction begins to affect the job, it is most likely over. Is it over for Microsoft? In a word…yes. The addiction has reached the products…the bread and butter of the company.

And so, Ray Ozzie in this little drama, plays the part that many of us play: The well-intentioned friend; powerless over Microsoft’s corporate behavior and unwittingly enabling it to continue by silently acquiescing to that which is inappropriate. Witnessing the entropy and the atrophy and hoping against hope that “this too shall pass.”

But it never does pass. What happens is that it gets put off; put off with money and circumstance or even the grandiose hope of a “killer app” just around the corner. Such is the addiction model and many of its caveats.

And so, we come full circle with this paradigm, this original premise: That it doesn’t matter where Ray Ozzie is right now. Why? Because he’s just one man who either doesn’t understand the dynamics of this huge problem known as Microsoft or doesn’t have the wherewithal to change that which he DOES understand.

Ray is one link in an unconnected chain. Piece him together with other fine links and with the “clasp” of Mission, Policy and Procedure and…you’ve got a chance. However, until the real problems are addressed and solved with a holistic approach dealing with changing or eliminating faulty thinking at all levels, there is no chance.

Mini-Microsoft: Where's Ray? Where's the Vista Campaign?

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