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Former Microsoft Exec: Microsoft Has "Become the Thing They Despised"

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the your-own-worst-enemy dept.

Microsoft 488

zacharye writes "Microsoft has a long and storied history of leadership in the tech industry, and the company has driven innovation for decades. In recent years, however, Microsoft has fallen behind the times in several key industries; the company's mobile position has deteriorated and left it with a low single-digit market share, and Microsoft won't launch Windows RT, its response to Apple's three-year-old iPad, until later this year. In a recent piece titled 'Microsoft’s Lost Decade,' Vanity Fair contributor Kurt Eichenwald analyzes the company’s 'astonishingly foolish management decisions' and picks apart moves made during the Steve Ballmer era."

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488 comments

Eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562253)

Double post?

Re:Eh? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562279)

Not only is a double post, the full article still isn't available, and this is just a short teaser.

Re:Eh? (5, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 2 years ago | (#40562649)

the full article still isn't available, and this is just a short teaser.

Just like Microsoft product announcements.

Mother of All Dupes (1, Informative)

geoffrobinson (109879) | about 2 years ago | (#40562315)

Yes, we've seen this before. No new content yet.

Re:Mother of All Dupes (5, Insightful)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 2 years ago | (#40562615)

After opening with a false premise like "storied history of leadership", do you really want to read more?

Re:Mother of All Dupes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562789)

Thanks, you just saved me 5 minutes. Next story...

Re:Mother of All Dupes (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about 2 years ago | (#40562817)

After opening with a false premise like "storied history of leadership", do you really want to read more?

it is storied, as in mythological....

Re:Mother of All Dupes (4, Insightful)

kilfarsnar (561956) | about 2 years ago | (#40562897)

After opening with a false premise like "storied history of leadership", do you really want to read more?

Yeah, that was a good one. I also liked "...and the company has driven innovation for decades." That made me chuckle.

Re:Eh? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#40562373)

...and double links to the same copy-pasted teaser article in the summery!

Triple-win or double-fail...you decide.

Drip, Drip, Drip (3, Informative)

khakipuce (625944) | about 2 years ago | (#40562267)

Looks like Vanity Fair is going to drip feed us this stuff for a while... does it add anything we didn't already know?

Re:Drip, Drip, Drip (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562383)

From TFA:
"Microsoft has a long and storied history of leadership in the tech industry, and the company has driven innovation for decades. "

Yeah, right. Next thing you know, they'll claim Al Gore invented the Internet.

Re:Drip, Drip, Drip (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#40562515)

I thought that vanity fair was some mad magazine clone actually. friggin weird name for a paper.

Re:Drip, Drip, Drip (5, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#40562781)

I thought that vanity fair was some mad magazine clone actually. friggin weird name for a paper.

It's been around for about 100 years. It's been a good magazine on and off, sort of a proto-Esquire.

I think it was originally called "Dress and Vanity Fair". I got on some list some years ago and the magazine showed up at my house for a while. There was some decent writing, a lot of fluff, George Clooney always on the cover, shiny, glossy, typical Conde Nast high-toned puke for people you don't want to know. Think Wired magazine without the tech and ads. Lots and lots of ads. You can't tell where the ads end and the articles begin. In fact, if you start from the front, you can flip pages for half an hour without getting to one bit of editorial content. Or maybe I couldn't recognize the editorial content.

And perfume samples, at least when it was coming to my house. My wife, who picks up the mail usually, used to stack them on my desk so my office smelled like my Aunt Lena's underwear drawer. She'd plop it down and say, "Your Vanity Fair is here, Evelyn" (my name is not Evelyn). Then she's snort with laughter. It was bizarre, hearing a woman with a heavy Eastern European accent try to imitate a high-end London swell.

They make a good sturdy surface to roll joints on. I imagine.

Nothing new (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | about 2 years ago | (#40562273)

Didn't Bill Gates once say. "When did we become IBM"?

Re:Nothing new (5, Insightful)

donscarletti (569232) | about 2 years ago | (#40562469)

Remember back in the days that Windows didn't have basic operating system features like memory protection and used to crash thrice daily?

Remember back in the days where using the latest version of IE would assure you that nothing but the most quirky IE only pages would render correctly?

Remember back in the days where Apple had a usable GUI for half a decade and MS users were stuck on a really shitty command line?

I do, it wasn't that long ago, pretty much it was the entire company's history before the "lost decade". But Windows doesn't crash so much any more since the later service packs of Windows 2000 and is fairly usable these days. It seems that Microsoft should have become IBM a long time ago.

Re:Nothing new (3, Interesting)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#40562543)

Think about the analogy. You are basically saying the stuff that OS/2 aimed to bring to PCs. Those were the days when the Microsoft/Western Digital/Intel standard crushed every other consumer & small business based system based on the cost / feature set ratio. I agreed with you at the time and used QEMM as my memory manager and Desqview to multitask but still owned Windows and was moving towards Windows applications. So yes that is what they mean. A dynamic company rapidly improving their products and challenging new markets. Windows for Workgroups may very well have been the worst Lan sold, but it was WfW that owned the small business space and made Lans ubiquitous.

Now Microsoft is in a "shrink slowly but profitably" stage.

Re:Nothing new (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562775)

Remember back in the day when Apple did not have proper memory protection for co-operative multitasking and errant programs could take the system 8 down?

His steveness was back after his first resignation at this point.

Remember back in the day when Apple did not have pre-emptive multitasking?

His steveness finally saw his OS catch up with the rest of the 20th century in the 21st. That was almost a whole decade wasted from the time that John Sculley, the man who saved Apple, was kicked out.

 

Re:Nothing new (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#40562791)

Windows 7 seems to be stable; I've had it on a notebook for about a year and no crashes. However, Explorer does crash occasionally. Wierd, because I don't remember earlier versions of it crashing. Maybe before when the OS crashed it was because of an Explorer cars?

OTOH flash crashes constantly on my Linux box (pretty limited memory on that one) and occasionally on the Windows box.

Really? (4, Insightful)

trewornan (608722) | about 2 years ago | (#40562281)

Microsoft has a long and storied history of leadership in the tech industry, and the company has driven innovation for decades

LMFAO

Re:Really? (5, Informative)

Serious Sandwich (2678177) | about 2 years ago | (#40562313)

Yes. Microsoft Research [microsoft.com].

Re:Really? (3, Insightful)

StripedCow (776465) | about 2 years ago | (#40562411)

This is downmodded, but where for example do we find the website for "Apple Research"?

Re:Really? (5, Funny)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40562441)

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562655)

This is incorrect. PARC is not an Apple Research center.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562751)

Officially not. But inofficially it was.

Re:Really? (5, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#40562851)

This is incorrect. PARC is not an Apple Research center.

WHOOSH!!! This was supposed to be a joke. But since it was modded "insightful" instead of funny, you are apparently not the only one who didn't get the joke, so let me explain: In 1979 Steve Jobs visited Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and was shown the Xerox Alto [wikipedia.org]. It included the Smalltalk OO-programming environment, and more importantly, a GUI and mouse. This was the inspiration for the Lisa, and subsequently, the Macintosh. Basically, Xerox had invented the modern computer, and then had let it sit in a research lab until someone else came along and saw the potential.

Re:Really? (0)

trewornan (608722) | about 2 years ago | (#40562447)

What does how innovative Apple is (or isn't) have to do with it.

Re:Really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562709)

Apple invented innovation, and Microsoft isn't licensed to be more innovative that Apple.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562587)

This is downmodded, but where for example do we find the website for "Apple Research"?

Apple doesn't do research. It actually ships product.

Re:Really? (5, Insightful)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | about 2 years ago | (#40562641)

Microsoft Research is the most depressing part of that whole company. There have so many great researchers and computer scientists working there and you hear very little from them. People who used to publish papers every year join up with MR and are never heard from again. It's a roach motel of computer scientists.

Re:Really? (5, Insightful)

Alioth (221270) | about 2 years ago | (#40562919)

I think Microsoft Research is basically a place where they can keep innovators out of the hands of their competitors, rather than research innovative new stuff that Microsoft will make - allowing Microsoft to rest on their Windows/Office laurels for longer.

Re:Really? (0)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#40562319)

They probably were an innovator for a little while in the '80s, maybe early '90s...

Re:Really? (1, Informative)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#40562331)

Not to mention that XP, Vista and 7, Office, etc all had features that were copied by competitors. Just because the final product isn't OMFGAMAZING!!! doesn't mean it didn't contain some good innovations.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562395)

XP, yes I suppose, but please, Vista? Innovation? Office? Innovation?

Ok, Windows 7 is their only acceptable OS since XP, but I fail to see any innovation in there - well nothing I'd bother mentioning..

Re:Really? (1, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#40562403)

Well they copied at least as many features for those products in return...the only innovation I can think of recently is the searchable start menu, and that's if you don't count the searchable run menu many Linux DEs have. Office is dragging the rest of the office suites around by the hair - the competition has to emulate them to gain market share (until the ribbons came around, then the legacy interface became a strong point), but their OSes haven't been innovative for a long time. Technically their OSes have been playing catch-up with Linux since the mid/late 90s.

Re:Really? (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40562463)

Innovator in what, exactly? DOS was not innovative, Windows 1, 2, 3, 3.1, NT 3.5, NT4 were not innovative, Office was not innovative, etc. So what innovations are you referring to?

Re:Really? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#40562811)

Apple DOS was not innovative, Mac OS 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, OS X wasn't innovative. the iPod wasn't really that impressive at start...

Innovation is sometime an incremental improvement, then a big Gee-Wiz everything is brand new.

Re:Really? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562547)

They ran over people in the '80s and '90s. Google "cut off Netscape's air supply". They got SQL Server from an unequal deal with Sybase (vaguely similar to the treaties the US government made with Mexico). They offered PC makers deals whereby the OEM's got Windows for less if they didn't also sell PC's with OS/2 or DR-DOS. They effectively tricked IBM with a joint development effort on OS/2, which they abandoned in favor of Windows. As for Windows, it wasn't until 1990 that they had a saleable product, some six years after Apple released the Mac (add another couple years for Lisa).

Microsoft did little innovation relative to its size throughout the '80s and '90s. Mainly, Bill Gates was about being paranoid and crushing anyone who seemed to be a threat. Jerry Kaplan's book "Startup" tells this with anecdotal detail about Gates and Jeff Raikes, his right-hand man at the time. Remember Microsoft's Pen Windows, and Apple's Newton tablet? Both companies lifted the idea from Kaplan without crediting (this was in the days when IT companies didn't patent aggressively).

Re:Really? (1)

gatkinso (15975) | about 2 years ago | (#40562345)

I agree with the original comment. Only a fool would think otherwise.

Not that I like Microsoft, but to dismiss their work simply out of predjudice is silly.

Re:Really? (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#40562475)

Not that I like Microsoft, but to dismiss their work simply out of predjudice is silly.

Please demonstrate one area in which Microsoft has innovated. Buying a startup and putting the polish on doesn't count.

Re:Really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562617)

Squiggly lines under misspelled words for one.

Re:Really? (1)

oakgrove (845019) | about 2 years ago | (#40562717)

Just for the record, spell checking on a computer dates back to 1957. Seriously [wikipedia.org].

Re:Really? (1)

hal2814 (725639) | about 2 years ago | (#40562885)

AC didn't say spell check. AC specifically said squiggly lines under misspelled words. This was big for me. It was a lot less of a PITA for me to see the misspelled words as I was typing them than to completely finish what I was writing and run a spell check on it after the fact.

Re:Really? (1)

million_monkeys (2480792) | about 2 years ago | (#40562749)

Squiggly lines under misspelled words for one.

Was that Microsoft? That was a good idea. Sure, not a 'revolutionize the field' idea, but an intuitive easy to use feature.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562667)

He will need the magic of curing a blind to do that.

Re:Really? (1)

PixetaledPikachu (1007305) | about 2 years ago | (#40562735)

Not that I like Microsoft, but to dismiss their work simply out of predjudice is silly.

Please demonstrate one area in which Microsoft has innovated. Buying a startup and putting the polish on doesn't count.

Microsoft's BlueTrack [microsoft.com] preceded Logitech's Darkfield for at least 2 years? To certain extent, I think Kinect [wikipedia.org] too. Microsoft did not invent the sensor, but they did a quite a lot of work to make it feasible and cheap enough for the masses

Re:Really? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#40562857)

Microsoft's BlueTrack preceded Logitech's Darkfield for at least 2 years?

So putting both a camera in a mouse (invented by Xerox) and a laser as well (first done by Logi) is innovative? Ohhhh-kay. And doing work to make something (Kinect) cheaper is not innovating. Keep trying, you'll get there never.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562835)

I've been building a network of RHEL servers lately using, but have been using predominately MS products for about 12 years. I've come to the realization that for enterprise networks, Microsoft has been THE leader with Active Directory. Linux has a few open source loose-ends lying around but they aren't production ready integrated tools.

Red Hat has introduced some similar tools recently with the identity management software (DNS, LDAP, Kerberos, NTP, etc.) but they are late to the party still not really production ready or integrated.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562909)

They released SIRI, the iPod, and iTunes among other things.

Re:Really? (2)

Ynot_82 (1023749) | about 2 years ago | (#40562353)

Seat-based projectiles
Hyperhidrosis enhanced clothing

But somehow, still not as absurd as Apples slide-to-unlock "innovation"

Re:Really? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#40562759)

Even though Microsoft hasn't been innovating as much, their product quality has never been higher. Microsoft when they were booming was producing Crap that we were forced to use. This new slower Microsoft seems to be spitting out better products. I haven't seen a BSOD in years. Internet Explorer is getting much better at supporting the standards.

Re:Really? (1)

oakgrove (845019) | about 2 years ago | (#40562883)

With modern production techniques, very few industries aren't putting out higher quality products so I don't see how that is all that great of a compliment.

I think they can reinvent themselves (1, Interesting)

gatkinso (15975) | about 2 years ago | (#40562323)

They still have a commanding market share in many areas - it will be interesting to see if they can pull of the reinvention that Apple did.

Re:I think they can reinvent themselves (5, Insightful)

CrazyBusError (530694) | about 2 years ago | (#40562413)

They still have a commanding market share in many areas...

And that's the exact reason you're unlikely to see them reinvent themselves the way Apple did. Apple did it because they had no choice - they were getting their asses handed to them in every sector they were in, they were haemorrhaging money and were on the verge of bankruptcy. It was a do-or-die move.

Microsoft have no need to copy them. They may not be raising the roof on the stock indexes, but they're still making money and because of that, inertia will mean that they'll never look at the kind of radical solutions that Apple did; it's easier to play the safe game and make smaller profits for less risk.

Re:I think they can reinvent themselves (1)

gatkinso (15975) | about 2 years ago | (#40562763)

That's a good point - you can't kill a man born to hang or whatever that saying is.

Re:I think they can reinvent themselves (5, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 2 years ago | (#40562453)

In many ways Apple had it easier. The state they were in, the board was willing to try anything and Jobs had free reign to make major changes. If what Jobs did didn't work, there wasn't much loss.

MS is still profitable and making major changes that affects their profitability will face resistance. MS needs new leadership and Ballmer is not likely to lead the reinvention. Over the last several years, it seems the leaders that were willing to change how MS did things have left: Ozzie, Allard, Bach. Everything must be Windows or Office has been a major problem to their innovation.

Re:I think they can reinvent themselves (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 2 years ago | (#40562601)

Ballmer is the problem - the guys who could have changed it for the better were given the push by Ballmer, probably thinking (rightly) they could do his job much better.

Now they only have paper-pushing bean-counters leading the company, so the only real chance for MS is to break themselves up in the name of counting beans that some divisions are losing and slim themselves down. I doubt that'll happen anytime soon.

They say the only realistic chance MS has is if Ballmer gets booted out (not likely as him and Gates are majority shareholders, but you never know, the institutional holders could wake up and throw a hissy fit), then the next likely CEO will be the ex-walmart Kevin Turner who will do his best to 'maximise profitability and minimise costs' and drive any good engineering into the ground. Eventually that break up will happen then.

Re:I think they can reinvent themselves (4, Insightful)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#40562605)

I don't know about that. Where Microsoft has really been dynamic this decade is at the enterprise level. For example Microsoft Dynamics (which I understand was an acquisition) ties very tightly to office. But accountants and sales people know office. CRM, ERP, Accounting... all tied together with an office interface relatively easy to configure/setup and use. That's rather impressive. Now tie that in with the enhancements to Sharepoint and Universal Communicator and you really have a fully formed office based total communication system. So they have been innovative on a windows / office paradigm.

Their problem is in consumer / internet and to a certain extent not developing there was strategic. It bought them an entire extra decade of dominance. Now Balmer / Microsoft is fighting for consumer market share we'll see what they do. But I don't think its fair to say there has been a lack of innovation. Perhaps not innovations you are about though.

Re:I think they can reinvent themselves (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#40562683)

So now buying products and gluing them together is innovative?

What would be innovative is if they let people glue their own stuff together by opening up those protocols for interoperability.

That's nothing (4, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#40562325)

Elop did to Nokia in a matter of months what Ballmer took over a decade to do to Microsoft.

Re:That's nothing (1, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 2 years ago | (#40562479)

In fairness, Nokia had problems long before Elop. IMO, his direction as a response to those problems might be the wrong direction. But that's my opinion.

Re:That's nothing (3, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#40562521)

Yeah they had problems before, but they were nothing compared to the new ones Elop made. All they had to do before was make their smartphones a little more noob-friendly to gain mass-market appeal. Even if they'd just kept on making cheapo phones for the 3rd world and high-end open phones for uber-geeks they would have been much better off.

Re:That's nothing (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#40562631)

well, problems. but not as big problems as elop declaring a platform burning at it's brightest hour in terms of shipments and sw sold, while not having a newer product to ship. the biggest problems were just the huge costs from the organization that didn

I mean, right thing for nokia was firing 70% of people yes - for lots of various reasons, though they should have just kicked out 98% of middle management that was only in nokia for lining their own pockets with perks they could deal out to their friends(contracts etc, not for technical merits but for who you just happened to have the most fun in sauna while drunk). bloated organization means no control and that's exactly how nokia was being bled.

but why tell consumers your products suck when consumers are buying them?

oh and the new conspiracy theory is btw. that nokia had to be brought to ms boat so that apple and ms can try to keep android and far east out - and nokia fucking up on their network side profits enabled this(that side is why their profitability wasn't through the roof in recent years).

Re:That's nothing (1)

Higgs Bosun (2676655) | about 2 years ago | (#40562671)

Yes. They killed the N9 so they could have:

1) A bite at Android's near 50% market share.
2) A bite at WP7's 2% market share.

I didn't realise that Elop meant that he wanted to jump onto a burning platform!

Re:That's nothing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562647)

When Elop announced the abandonment of Symbian, the stock dropped 20 percent. It hasn't recovered. You are actually defending that? No wonder execs get away with so much with people like you around.

Re:That's nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562503)

Elop did to Nokia in a matter of months what Ballmer took over a decade to do to Microsoft.

Yes, but that was deliberate.

(....surely it must have been? right?)

The Problem (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562333)

Executives, Executives, EXECUTIVES

Re:The Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562371)

Forget the rhetoric about the poor... these are the REAL parasites in our country.

Re:The Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562899)

The real problem is that the executives don't have enough money. We need to give them more. They know best. We should cut government spending but then give out corporate welfare and start more wars.

The worst part is, these ideas are basically contained in some of the Romney "Day 1" ads.

Quarterly results and long term projects (4, Insightful)

captainpanic (1173915) | about 2 years ago | (#40562357)

That's the problem with management with KPIs: they have to report results every 3 months. Cutting some long term projects looks great in the beginning: less overhead and fewer costs, and if you move your researchers to production, you even get a bigger income.

The damage only becomes visible 2-5 years later. And then it's too late.

Too bad the whole world is focussed on those dan

Re:Quarterly results and long term projects (1)

Higgs Bosun (2676655) | about 2 years ago | (#40562635)

Indeed. This is what happens when a tech company pays too much attention to business men and not enough to developers/engineers. MS has ignored anything that is not connected somehow to its Windows/Office cash cow, and now the world has changed. Money spent on R&D is considered money taken away from the bottom line and what businessman is going to action something that'll lose the company money?

Apple has been very successful (I'm not an Apple fanboi btw), so the engineering talent is our there. Hmm, why weren't those people working for MS making cool things for them I wonder?

Former exec (3, Insightful)

js3 (319268) | about 2 years ago | (#40562391)

A former exec disgruntled with his previous company? you don't say...

Re:Former exec (5, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | about 2 years ago | (#40562673)

I left an employer once because it was shit and was disgruntled with it as my previous company.

But just because I was disgruntled with it, doesn't mean it wasn't shit.

It's bankrupt now.

Sometimes ex-employees are exactly the people you should be listening to, sometimes, they're ex-employees by their own choosing and for good reason.

Re:Former exec (2)

oakgrove (845019) | about 2 years ago | (#40562677)

Not that it matters around here obviously (+4 Insightful?) but attacking the man rather than the argument usually tends to lose you credibility.

Courier Tablet (4, Insightful)

aapold (753705) | about 2 years ago | (#40562407)

That thing was way ahead of its time. But Gates and Balmer killed it. and now Allard is off doing something else...

Re:Courier Tablet (3, Interesting)

oakgrove (845019) | about 2 years ago | (#40562755)

"Courier" was an idea that made it as far as a CGI drawing. That's as far as it can verifiably be proven to ever exist. Calling that "innovation" is like calling warp drive innovation.

Innovation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562489)

What have they "innovated"? Microsoft Bob? The only useful thing I've seen that they've innovated on their own is the kinnect. If innovate means copied or stole technology or ideas, then yes they're a great innovator.

Re:Innovation? (2)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 2 years ago | (#40562551)

What have they "innovated"? Microsoft Bob? The only useful thing I've seen that they've innovated on their own is the kinnect. If innovate means copied or stole technology or ideas, then yes they're a great innovator.

They didn't make Kinect and still don't own the rights to the tech. It was created by licenced from PrimeSense.

Re:Innovation? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#40562901)

The Courier seemed fairly innovative. However, Ballmer killed it before it got out the door and the guy responsible for it took off in search of greener pastures.

So they actually were innovators? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562493)

To most of us younger folks, this has been the truth all along.
I think I'll see this happen to Google as it grows larger and larger.

Re:So they actually were innovators? (1)

oakgrove (845019) | about 2 years ago | (#40562805)

I think I'll see this happen to Google

Any particular reason or just a vague sense of "Big = Bad"?

No. Microsoft has always been the same. (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 years ago | (#40562507)

The article is way off base. The most fundamental reason for their success is not anything they have done or not done. It is the whole corporate sector conflating "Microsoft compatibility" with "interoperability". Otherwise they have always been the same. Lackluster products and copying/buying innovation done elsewhere has been its mainstay. The low quality of its products was masked by the ever increasing speed and decreasing cost of hardware. Their monopoly masked the incompetence of their managers. All that is happening now is people inside and outside Microsoft, waking up and smelling the coffee.

Despicable Them (2)

macraig (621737) | about 2 years ago | (#40562509)

Microsoft Has "Become the Thing They Despised"

That's funny... for me it's just more despicable now than it was way back when. I guess my despicableness threshold is lower than Eichenwald's and Ballmer's?

Innovation doesn't exist anymore (3, Interesting)

Notlupus (1893060) | about 2 years ago | (#40562537)

Why are we even having this discussion about what Microsoft innovated and which company is the best innovator, because frankly none off them innovate anymore. The easiest and most effective way to become the biggest player is to bully everyone else with patent lawsuits. Microsoft, Apple and Google are all exactly the same when it comes to employing dodgy business tactics.

Re:Innovation doesn't exist anymore (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562873)

The patent situation sucks. Still, some products are obviously more innovative than others.

Re:Innovation doesn't exist anymore (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562881)

Okay for Apple, Microsoft (and Nokia) but can you give one example of Google playing the patent troll, i.e. not defending themselves against a lawsuit filed by others but attacking them in the first place?

Also, when was the last time Apple and Microsoft expressed their dislike of the current patent system?

s/driven/killed/ (5, Insightful)

McDutchie (151611) | about 2 years ago | (#40562559)

and the company has driven innovation for decades

Uh... geez. Where to even start?

The first and last real MS innovation was the Microsoft BASIC interpreter which became ubiquitous in 1980s home computers. Everything else they ever did was shamelessly stolen and/or bought and/or badly copied from others. Even MS-DOS started out as a bought-out CP/M imitation.

They disparaged GUIs and the whole idea of user-friendly computing until the Mac proved them wrong. It took them a decade to come up with a usable competitor (Windows 95). Then it took them years to recognize the importance of the Internet, so they killed the competition by illegally leveraging their monopoly on Windows desktops. With the competition dead, they stalled IE development and set back web innovation by a decade until Firefox broke the market back open.

Now you can see them screw up the same way with mobile devices. It took even Bill Gates until last week to admit that the PC-centric model may be "changing". Thankfully, with Gates gone and that dancing sweatmonkey in charge, they don't seem to be capable of their past level of predation anymore.

MS has always been a follower at best. It has frequently been a predatory abuser of its monopoly. It has usually parasitized on the innovations of others. Embrace, extend, extinguish was always how they operated. It has never been an innovation leader.

Re:s/driven/killed/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40562657)

And lets not forget that if the NT product line hadn't fallen onto their doorstep they would have nothing but Windows98 as a platform.

Re:s/driven/killed/ (2)

v1 (525388) | about 2 years ago | (#40562731)

The first and last real MS innovation was the Microsoft BASIC interpreter which became ubiquitous in 1980s home computers. Everything else they ever did was shamelessly stolen and/or bought and/or badly copied from others.

Woz must have been abusing that time machine of his, to have copied microsoft's 1980 "innovation" in 1978 with his AppleSoft BASIC: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Applesoft_BASIC [wikipedia.org]

Re:s/driven/killed/ (3, Informative)

edremy (36408) | about 2 years ago | (#40562865)

The first and last real MS innovation was the Microsoft BASIC interpreter which became ubiquitous in 1980s home computers. Everything else they ever did was shamelessly stolen and/or bought and/or badly copied from others.

Woz must have been abusing that time machine of his, to have copied microsoft's 1980 "innovation" in 1978 with his AppleSoft BASIC: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Applesoft_BASIC [wikipedia.org]

Insofar as he was cloning Gates' 1975 introduction of Altair Basic [wikipedia.org], yes. Of course, neither was remotely original: BASIC had been around since the mid 60's, if just hadn't been ported to small machines.

Dont Forget the Government Interferance (-1)

JeremyGNJ (1102465) | about 2 years ago | (#40562659)

People tend to forget that Microsoft wasn't ALLOWED to innovate in some areas after the anti-trust trial. Microsoft was not allowed to integrate certain software and services into their OS. They had to code them as completely separate products without direct interaction. While they still had these shackles on, Apple and Google were free to meld ANYTHING they wanted into their core products.

Menus (1)

gooner666 (2612117) | about 2 years ago | (#40562753)

Hey Microsoft changing the way the menus works IS NOT an upgrade. And can I please have a simple way to not show my emails in groups? Hell to do anything simple anymore you have to search on a forum for the magic voodoo steps to accomplish basic tasks in office anymore.

Explanatory Memes (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | about 2 years ago | (#40562787)

“In the 40s, 50s, and 60s, Sears had it nailed. It was top-notch, but now it’s just a barren wasteland. And that’s Microsoft. The company just isn’t cool anymore.”

Adds to Libraries of Congress, car analogies, and the other multifarious analogies for quantifiers the layman cannot comprehend. Plus it makes one think of breasts.

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