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Microsoft Businesses Technology

Microsoft's Lost Decade 407

Kurt Eichenwald has written a lengthy article about Microsoft's slow decline over the past 10 years, cataloging their missteps and showing how consistent, poor decision-making from management crippled the tech titan in several important industries. "By the dawn of the millennium, the hallways at Microsoft were no longer home to barefoot programmers in Hawaiian shirts working through nights and weekends toward a common goal of excellence; instead, life behind the thick corporate walls had become staid and brutish. Fiefdoms had taken root, and a mastery of internal politics emerged as key to career success. In those years Microsoft had stepped up its efforts to cripple competitors, but—because of a series of astonishingly foolish management decisions—the competitors being crippled were often co-workers at Microsoft, instead of other companies. Staffers were rewarded not just for doing well but for making sure that their colleagues failed. As a result, the company was consumed by an endless series of internal knife fights. Potential market-busting businesses—such as e-book and smartphone technology—were killed, derailed, or delayed amid bickering and power plays. That is the portrait of Microsoft depicted in interviews with dozens of current and former executives, as well as in thousands of pages of internal documents and legal records." We discussed a teaser for this piece earlier in the month — the full article has all the unpleasant details.
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Microsoft's Lost Decade

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  • Re:Terrible article (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dogtanian ( 588974 ) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @08:58AM (#40800725) Homepage

    It did a pretty good job of laying out why MS has failed to keep up with the leading edge of the industry, and why they will need radical cultural change to ever catch up. In particular, the article avoided overblown hystrionics, for example not claiming MS is dead, but pointing out that MS has become like IBM in how it operates.

    I haven't had time to read the whole article yet. However, if the summary is accurate (ha ha), it's certainly not the first time that MS's internal politicking and entrenched interests since the late 90s have been pinpointed as a major obstacle to innovation and their continued success in a changing market.

    Some time back I commented on [slashdot.org] (and cherry-picked) a similar article, which wasn't new even then- it dated back to early 2010. Still very informative though.

  • Re:Terrible article (Score:5, Informative)

    by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @09:39AM (#40800917) Homepage

    Microsoft's server revenue was $4.5b last quarter growing at 14% year over year. Yes sharepoint, SQL Server, Dynamics... are something to write home about.

  • Re:Terrible article (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 28, 2012 @09:53AM (#40800997)

    The Xbox lost $4 billion and came in a distant seccond.
    The Xbox 360 has lost $3 billion, after a few quarters in the black the division is now in the red again, and the 360 is currently tied for second.

    That's not what any rational person would call success.

  • No. 1 console maker? (Score:5, Informative)

    by aNonnyMouseCowered ( 2693969 ) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:19AM (#40801465)

    According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_game_consoles), Nintendo Wii sold more units than both Xbox and Xbox 360. While Xbox 360 outsold Sony Playstation 3 by a few million units, combined sales of all Playstation models are several times higher than sales of both Xbox models. So what makes you say that Microsoft is the number one console manufacturer?

    Moreover, unlike sales of smartphones and tablets, sales of game consoles are stagnating already. So it's pointless to argue whether Microsoft, Nintendo or Sony is the No. 1 or coolest console manufacturer.

  • Re:Terrible article (Score:4, Informative)

    by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:20AM (#40801467)

    Actually a lot of people used to run Windows just to play games. A huge number. Most of those are now using consoles instead. Many of these now use no computer at all but a tablet or phone for what internet usage they have. I've had little problem moving people to Linux since when I ask them if they use the computer for gaming they almost always reply that they have a Wii or X-Box or Playstation for that (in some cases all three!)

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:39AM (#40801589) Journal

    Gates was already heading for the exit in 99. He had grown tired of dealing with the press and had more money than God so who could blame him?

    No the problem has ALWAYS been Ballmer. Gates was an engineer and thought like one, menu heavy, a little geekier, but that's who he was. Ballmer has been and always will be a marketing exec, that is what he went to school for, that is how he operates, and as we have seen time and time again marketing execs may do fine on Madison Ave but they suck balls at tech.

    I mean look at what has happened under purely his watch: Zune, kin, killing playforsure for a half baked Zune market, rushing out the X360 with a 2 billion dollar flaw, the bad purchases, sinking insane amounts of money trying to buy search, pushing out Vista with all of us beta testers screaming about show stopping bugs, getting caught up in the embarrassing "Vista capable" fiasco, the man has been an absolute trainwreck to the company. Hell if the rumors are to be believed the only reason Win 7 didn't end up a disaster is he was too caught up in Bing and WinPhone to give a crap and left the guys working on Win 7 alone.

    Lets face it folks, the man has literally flushed billions of dollars right down the crapper, frankly if the final total of the Ballmer flush was less than 30 billion I'd be amazed. You can sum up Ballmer reign in 3 steps: 1.-See what is hot, 2.-Buy or build a half baked poorly thought out copy, 3.-Fail miserably. I bet if you would have took those billions and had a monkey throw poo at the stock page and bought stocks based on which ones got the most shit you'd have had a better ROI than Steve Ballmer has had, and that is with him having a company with not one but TWO monopolies! I swear the man makes the Apple Pepsi guy look like a fricking genius and we haven't even gotten to see how bad "Ballmer's Folly" aka Win 8 does yet.

  • Re:lost? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Gadget_Guy ( 627405 ) * on Saturday July 28, 2012 @12:10PM (#40801845)

    None of your examples have anything to do with Microsoft. They didn't design the hardware, so they could not control the sound and graphics of the PC. They may have had real multitasking prior to NT had it not been for IBM insisting that OS/2 ran in 286 mode. It was one of the reasons wh IBM and Microsoft went their separate ways in the OS market.

    Microsoft have had plenty of innovation over the years, especially from the work done at Microsoft Research. Unfortunately, they are not always very good at commercializing the technologies that are invented.

  • by Ruie ( 30480 ) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @03:17PM (#40803159) Homepage
    Another similar history lesson: demise of the Westinghouse company [post-gazette.com]

If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, then a consensus forecast is a camel's behind. -- Edgar R. Fiedler