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Microsoft's Believability

http://news.com.com/2010-1032_3-5183646.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=news

Just read that story talking about gmail, and one sentence stuck out to me for reasons mentioned in the subject line.

"Windows XP has a search function, but Microsoft expects to debut a killer search technology with Longhorn, the code name for the next important version of the Windows operating system."

Who believes this? Seriously, the believability of Microsoft these days is about as high as US intelligence when the administration is trying to get its way. We've been hearing from Microsoft for decades now about how, right around the corner, the very best thing ever since the beginning of time will be unleashed. When it's actually unleashed, more often than not it's underpowered and outmatched by components, and would be a dismal, utter failure if not for the monopoly power of Microsoft. Oh, but don't worry, because if you just stick with it and bide your time, the next version will be the greatest thing since...

This isn't intended to come across as anti-Microsoft (my firm develops entirely for the Microsoft platform), but rather that the brain trust at Microsoft has to realize that they have completely purged any public trust in their believability.

.
Friday, April 02, 2004

I thought that was an April Fools joke.

Sven
Friday, April 02, 2004

Turned out that gmail is actually real, and the meta-April Fools joke was a way to get the wagging heads talking about it, debating whether it is a joke or not.

Brilliant marketing move.

.
Friday, April 02, 2004

I believe it, actually. Apparently WinFS filtering on metadata is instantaneous. Don't underestimate Microsoft when they have something in their sights.

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Friday, April 02, 2004

"Don't underestimate Microsoft when they have something in their sights."

This is exactly the sort of sentiment that I was talking about -- you realize, of course, that Microsoft has had dozens of colossal failures in their history, even when those markets were "in their sights"?

After a failure Microsoft always plays coy -- such as "oh, we were wrong not to pay attention that despite massive internal projects and millions of dollars of Windows revenue spent trying to conquer this new market...now we're REALLY going to try...".

.
Friday, April 02, 2004

IMHO Microsoft continues to succeed for two reasons:
- When they set their sights on something, they commit to it completely.
- If it doesn't pan out, they throw it away. Fast.

Every day there are a dozen new trails to explore in the field. If you're going to commit to something, you commit 100%. You become a true believer and you *know* you can put out something that is truly great. If you can't do that, there's no point in trying. I mean, what sense would it make to put an R&D team on "doing kind of as good as Google most of the time"?

And if it doesn't work, then no hard feelings, no bruised egos - you dump it. You shoot it in the head and commit to the next big thing.

JFK said the US would put a man on the moon within ten years. People thought he was insane, but NASA's potential became his passion, and they did it. With six months to spare. ;-)

Philo

Philo
Friday, April 02, 2004

Philo-

You forgot reason three (the most important one)

They have a monopoly on desktop operating systems, one of a handful of things in the last hundred years that it has been possible to maintain a monopoly on.

name withheld out of cowardice
Friday, April 02, 2004

I have read a lot about MS history.

Yes, MS has failed with many things, but also won with many things.

Do you remember Multiplan? It was their first spreadsheet, and it failed badly. Instead of abandoning, they came up with Excel.

Do you remember how hard to conquer was the word processor market? MS Word for DOS vs. WordStar and WordPerfect? Yet, they did it.

So - Microsoft is VERY dangerous when they set their minds on something!

MX
Friday, April 02, 2004

Sigh Philo, I didn't think you'd buy into the lie.

http://moonmovie.com/

Nigel
Friday, April 02, 2004

"So - Microsoft is VERY dangerous when they set their minds on something!"

Well few other companies can aimlessly shotgun a market until success is eventually achieved, on the backs of a massive profit margin monopoly product.

Do I think that Microsoft will eventually succeed, even though they've been trying damn hard with MSN for years (even if they pretend otherwise)? I suppose they just may, although ultimately I think it'll require them to leverage their desktop monopoly: Perhaps their new search engine will be specially engineered to leverage the Avalon graphic architecture, or some such nonsense (developed internally in parallel, of course, which is exactly the sort of activity and innovation destruction that the breakup of Microsoft would prevent).

.
Friday, April 02, 2004

I can't believe anyone thinks the moon landing was a hoax.

www.badastronomy.com

Capn' Kirk
Friday, April 02, 2004

Dot,

"This is exactly the sort of sentiment that I was talking about -- you realize, of course, that Microsoft has had dozens of colossal failures in their history, even when those markets were "in their sights"?"

Examples please.

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Friday, April 02, 2004

>>Examples please.

Bob

RocketJeff
Friday, April 02, 2004

> Bob

Okay, that's 1.  Only 23 more to go before you've named 'dozens' of failures.

Anon.
Friday, April 02, 2004

Photo Paint - which they abandoned instead of fixing the bugs and waiting a few years for it to take the bunsiness/consumer end of the market.

Web TV - what's that?

The whole multi-media idea; Encarta has beaten Britannia but the market was never developed.

MSN!  -- 'nuff said.

There are plenty more. Dvorak gave a list once. The truth is that not only do Microsoft do most things outside their core competence exceptionally badly, but that they often give up on perfectly viable projects that merely required some staying power.

Stephen Jones
Friday, April 02, 2004

Sidewalk.

Justin Johnson
Friday, April 02, 2004

"> Bob

Okay, that's 1.  Only 23 more to go before you've named 'dozens' of failures."

No, it isn't. The entire company wasn't focused on Microsoft Bob in the same way that it was on the Internet. Multimedia is a good example and that's led me to remember another one, which is the Push/Channels thing. Both of which were hyped to death by the industry in general until something else came along.

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Friday, April 02, 2004

Wasn't Xenix one of Microsoft's biggest failures ever?

Giovanni Corriga
Friday, April 02, 2004

Windows ME


Friday, April 02, 2004

If you're actually genuinely interested in finding out whether the next version may have killer search features, you could always go to the MSDN TV web site and check out the episode where the new filesystem architecture is explained, then try to form your own opinion.

Big B
Friday, April 02, 2004

"you could always go to the MSDN TV web site and check out the episode where the new filesystem architecture is explained, then try to form your own opinion."

Are you kidding me? Seriously, if you're not kidding then the battery in your Microsoft implant must be a little strong.

.
Friday, April 02, 2004

Was Windows Me a failure? It sold, didn't it?

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Saturday, April 03, 2004

"No, it isn't. The entire company wasn't focused on Microsoft Bob in the same way that it was on the Internet."

So basically what you're saying is that any examples that are given you can just twist and say that it was because they weren't focused? Okay, how about the MSX computer platform that Microsoft pushed circa 1984? This was a tremendous flop, and Microsoft bet the farm on it. Microsoft put their entire propaganda department behind .NET, and by any measure of the imagination it has been a terrible failure. Oh, maybe as they jam it down people's throats for years to come you'll be able to term it a success, but it certainly isn't on merit.

In fact let me put things another way -- Microsoft has had _extremely_ few successful products that weren't a result of a monopoly of Operating Systems (in fact Windows 3 only got a toe hold only because it was from the company that made DOS -- there were many superior GUIs years ealier). Even with that advantage many successes were the result of buying up other companies.

Fawning about the great ability of Microsoft to focus and overcome a market seems incredibly misplaced given the facts.

.
Saturday, April 03, 2004

Dear dot,
              Windows 3.1 got in because it was a good operating system. It was true that people waited for it because MS produced DOS, but they didn't buy Windows 1 and 2 because they weren't any good and there wasn't that much software written.

              There are plenty of examples of MS gaining a market segment through merit, or the blunders of others. Excel is one good example. Word initially failed miserably because they forgot to put in a feature all university users needed (footnotes, indexing or both) so to suggest Excel took off because of leverage from DOS is false, doubly false in fact as it was originally written for the Mac.

                I agree that there are many examples of MS failing to take over a market sector, though sometimes the reason is it gives up too easily. And it certainly flounders when working outside its core competencies.

Stephen Jones
Monday, April 05, 2004

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