Microstiff - Microsoft Outings of the Third Kind

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Microstiff – Denial Alert! Danger, Will Robinson!

I’d just like to pontificate a bit about the Microsoft “State of the Company.”

All too often, we humans fall into a false sense of security brought upon by our own denial and the acts of those who came before us. Case in point: Veterans Administration complacency.

Microsoft is behaving much like the VA. Its facilities (products) are crumbling, its services lacking, its management arrogant and its chain of command fat and happy and in blissful denial. Lucky for the VA and all veterans that someone can cause “heads to roll”. No such luck at the Softie.

And so, to the man in the greatest denial, Bill Gates, and to the chain of command and all their charges, I present you with this little vignette, this synopsis of the state of your company, today, March 13, 2007. We’ll call it the first Microstiff Microsoft State of the Company speech:

Softies, I come before you today to shake you awake. Not that you’re asleep but, that you’re in a dream, self-induced dream which has each and every one of you as masters of your fate in a company that is poised on the edge of further unimagined greatness to the benefit of all mankind. For those of you inside of this dream, I attempt to shake you, to wake you with the following:

  1. Your leaders have screwed with your biggest cash cow – your operating system. Not only is Vista, a backward step but, it has no compelling buying proposition, it forces people to purchase more hardware, it works with not a lot of programs and drivers and it inhibits productivity with its outrageous security interventions.

    And then, as if to whip out the Derringer and fire off a round into le foote, your leaders announce that a new operating system, Vienna, is coming in 2009 (two short years away) and, oh, by the way, we're only going to support Vista for five (5) years!

    Your leaders do this at a time when Apple comes out with a newer, better OS, when Ubuntu Linux is making great headway and perception of your treatment of governments, partners, stockholders and customers…is at an all time low.

    What were you thinking? “Go ahead, I dare you, go somewhere else; we know what’s best for you but, more importantly, we don’t care what’s best for you and...we don't care what's best for us...we just...don't....care!”

    Go somewhere else, they will, Softies! And what’s worse…you’ll actually be surprised!

  2. Your leaders screwed with your 2nd biggest cash cow – Office. It’s not really about the “Ribbon”, although that will cause some to jump ship; it’s how tightly you’ve integrated into your collaboration Office scheme with in-house servers only – Share Point. You’re building a walled garden at a time when the rest of the world is viewing the “Cloud” as the economical, “good enough” way to share information. It’s “good enough.”

    Oh, this little game of “capture the IT Center” will work for many of your current customers but, not as many as you’d like. In effect, you are creating a chasm between you and your existing customers and new prospects. Just like your brutal assumptions re: Vista, you’re forcing a choice. To many, that choice – the Cloud – will give them all the collaboration they need for $50 a year (Google Apps)!

    And, where were you when Google (painful to hear that name, isn’t it?), Corel and others knew enough to build “Cloud Word Processing/Spreadsheet Collaboration Lite”? It’s already far too late to get back any customers these solutions created. What would you promise them? Free Office Live? It’s a mess.

    Build bridges, not chasms! Not your style, is it? And…it will doom you. What were you thinking?

  3. Server Software – Well, what do you know? You pretty much left this cash cow alone. Someone done good. Unfortunately, while you primp the server software for bigger and better things, i.e. – collaboration, companies small and large are looking very closely at Web 2.0 – the Cloud. And, don’t forget, Office Live, all 190,000 stranded customers, eats into your server efforts! What were you thinking?

  4. Cash Cows in Waiting? -- Nary a one:

· Office Live – Totally screwed. It’s really clear here that you are primarily a software company with big bucks and that is all! Office Live is a SERVICE and thus far, you’ve proven you’re NOT…with stranded customers, no responsive support, good software tied together with poor connectivity and more. And you’ve got Best Buy Geek Squad selling it. Those dudes and dudettes ain’t vertical. They’re hardware! What were you thinking?

Ray Ozzie? Totally beaten down. He’ll be in Swampscott by January.

· Search - With no compelling “buying proposition” for search users, your market share continues to dwindle and your search gurus jump ship. Totally screwed! What were you thinking?

· Branding – Is it Live or is it MSN? Is it HotMail or NotMail? Is Windows Live actually live? WTF were you thinking?

· Dynamic - Jeeze, you better hope you’ve got enough trained Softies to sell, train and support this Purchased-from-Great-Plains-and-Turned-into-Nothing-So-Far solution for MB businesses! Given that you are a software company and NOTHING ELSE, somehow, I doubt you will. What were you thinking!

· Zune - Tsk! You are a SOFTWARE COMPANY! That’s all!

  • Still not Convinced - Go here.

· Jeeze – I’m getting depressed and I don’t work there and have not stock!

  1. Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Lisa Brummel, Brad Smith and all Partners - Lou Gerstner, where are you?

CONCLUSIONS: You decide the state of the company. Let’s say I’m your teacher in a high school business class. I propose the above scenario to you. I summarize by saying,

Let’s review. This company has somehow made its two biggest selling products considerably less desirable to customers and never even consulted them about what they might like for features. Then, on every other project of any significance, they have failed miserably with no immediate relief in sight. Finally, they have failed to see the significance of Web 2.0.

Class, what is your prognosis for this company?
What say you?"

I think some of us can guess the answer, can't we. After all, some of us are not in denial."

Denial Alert concluded. Carry on.

Mini-Microsoft: Stirring the Microsoft Comment Pot on a Rainy Weekend
Mini-Microsoft: There's Ray! Plus: Plenty of Room For More Brains at Microsoft.
Mini-Microsoft: Quest for Happiness
Mini-Microsoft: Stop Him Before He Speaks Again!

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