Microsoft’s Sacred Cash Cow – Article about Microsoft by ex-Microsoft employee

Just finished a great article in the Seattle Weekly by Jeff Reifman. He worked at MS ’91-’99 and was a died in the wool Softie. But after leaving the company his point of view has changed – actually it started changing while still at the company. Now he is fan of OS X, Linux, and open source solution.

It is a long read, but I thought it was very interesting.

The section on Missed Opportunities is very interesting. MS’s missed opportunities = .Mac

Some notable quotes:

. . . hasn?t upgraded his PC from Windows 98 or Office 2000. ?I?d just as soon have a stable operating system?my time is more important.?

. . was surprised to learn recently that Jim Allchin, Microsoft group vice president of platforms, didn?t realize that many users don?t buy new computers because of how hard it is to move all their data and applications. ?He was totally oblivious to this,? Andrews says. ?It?s a couple-day process. His head was in the clouds.?

“I know I won?t waste as much time making the technology simply work. In most ways, OS X is superior to Windows XP.”

?The open-source business model is the one trend Microsoft can?t follow,? says Edward Jung, co-founder of Intellectual Ventures and a former senior software architect at Microsoft. Microsoft?s need to preserve its enormous ongoing Windows revenue is a burden that other companies don?t have.

Microsoft is so concerned about Windows XP security that it will likely give away its next upgrade to fix vulnerabilities and make it easier to deliver future fixes automatically.

The Longhorn slip might be Microsoft?s biggest failure ever. It is beyond comprehension how the company could let five years lapse between major upgrades of its flagship product. Microsoft?s missteps have opened a gaping window of opportunity for competitors.

With the rise of the Internet and e-mail, many computer users just don?t need the full power of Windows; they can get by with a Web browser, a search engine like Google, and Gmail.

Keith Rowe, my former manager at, used to say that the most important skill of a manager is to know when to kill your own project. I don?t think new, better ideas that would take business away from Windows or Office really have a chance at Microsoft. The company is addicted to the revenue from these flagship products and is afraid to go in new directions that might initially hurt the bottom line.

In an age when retailers hire consultants to analyze what hip kids do, you?d think Microsoft would care more about what the hip kids are doing. They?re running around with iPods, using Linux and OS X. A Groundspring intern e-mailed me recently about his new Apple PowerBook: ?I think I may be smitten by a computer.? That?s the kind of passion I?m talking about. In its search for market share, dominance, and profits, Microsoft lost the ultimate battle for our hearts and minds. For now, though, it?s still laughing all the way to the bank.

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