Thursday, February 04, 2010

Microsoft's Future

Today’s NY Times has an interesting op-ed by Dick Brass, “Microsoft’s Creative Destruction.” Brass was a vice-president at Microsoft from 1997 to 2004. In his op-ed he notes that “America’s most famous and prosperous technology company, no longer brings us the future. . . .” Why? “Microsoft has become a clumsy, uncompetitive innovator. Its products are lampooned, often unfairly but sometimes with good reason. Its image has never recovered from the antitrust prosecution of the 1990s. Its marketing has been inept for years. . . .” “What happened? Unlike other companies, Microsoft never developed a true system for innovation. Some of my former colleagues argue that it actually developed a system to thwart innovation. Despite having one of the largest and best corporate laboratories in the world, and the luxury of not one but three chief technology officers, the company routinely manages to frustrate the efforts of its visionary thinkers.” Brass adds, “Part of the problem is a historic preference to develop (highly profitable) software without undertaking (highly risky) hardware.” “As a result, while the company has had a truly amazing past and an enviably prosperous present, unless it regains its creative spark, it’s an open question whether it has much of a future.” I guess there are some lessons in this for us to reflect upon.

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