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28
Feb
What's the problem?
Blog - Microsoft

I just read this article.

Microsoft vs Google: The Empire Strikes Back - Ray Ozzie’s ambitious plan to revitalize Microsoft’s software, beef up its services, and kick the crap out of Google

Embedded in this (what I expected to be) cloying puff-piece is a great description of and answer to "What's the problem?"  Here's some selected excerpts.

...the world's largest software vendor has adapted poorly to the changing market landscape. On the Web, Internet Explorer is dead last in standards compliance, and its critical security flaws sometimes go unpatched for months.

Windows Mobile claims just 7.9 percent of the smartphone market, and according to Gartner, sales are slowing. Microsoft's vaunted new search service, Bing, has won few converts from Google, except where Microsoft has strong-armed them into using it. In short, while it may be first in desktop software, Microsoft's track record outside its comfort zone has been fairly dismal, enough so that in 2007, venture capitalist Paul Graham declared, "Microsoft is dead."

"...Microsoft's developers were embroiled with Office 2007, Windows Vista, and Windows 7."

"...drawn criticism for being a proprietary platform in a market filled with open source alternatives.."

Microsoft claims to be "committed to building bridges to other software providers, including open source technologies and products," and the company has made a few conciliatory gestures toward the open source world as of late, such as funding the CodePlex Foundation. But a more genuine, less patronizing effort would be welcomed (even if past sins will not soon be forgotten).

Critics argue, however, that such a rosy picture of Microsoft's future is unlikely. Before Ozzie can beat Google, they say, he must first confront an even scarier foe: Microsoft's own lumbering, bellicose corporate culture. Direct competition of Google's magnitude has been a rarity in Steve Ballmer's 10-year tenure as CEO, and some analysts fear Microsoft's competitive spirit has irreparably atrophied.

Insiders warn that Microsoft's ability to innovate is hampered by infighting and bureaucratic mismanagement. In an editorial for the New York Times, former Microsoft exec Dick Brass described the company as "a dysfunctional corporate culture in which the big established groups are allowed to prey upon emerging teams, belittle their efforts, compete unfairly against them for resources, and over time hector them out of existence.

That description will sound familiar to Microsoft's competitors, who have long bemoaned the company's tendency to rely more on undisclosed file formats, hidden APIs, product tying, backroom deals, negative marketing campaigns, and other anticompetitive tactics than on innovation. ...old habits die hard, and Microsoft is a big company.

Yah, they're big.  Most significantly, big in market share, which means users/customers, including me.  Two main reasons make me, and keep me, with Windows.  First, I have been able to find software that does everything I've been able to imagine that I want or need.  And second, all the software I use is either free or so good that I'm happy to buy, except TurboTax, for which I don't blame Microsoft.

I'd like Linux to replace Windows on my PC.  I've installed Ubuntu, Knoppix, and Mepis with some success, but there's always something I have to give up.  So I have Puppy Linux on a flash drive, and marvel at what a 128MB operating system can do.  But the latest version won't see my networked printer, nor will it stream an instant play Netflix movie that wants Silverlight, and so on.

I wouldn't mind trying a Mac.  I have yet to meet a disloyal Mac user, except for the recent grad who questioned the expense when he had to load his with Microsoft Office for his new job.  Microsoft seems to want only a software monopoly, whereas Apple wants the hardware too... not for me.

Will I be better served when I can do everything I want from my phone?  For me, I don't see it... literally.  My days of 20-20 vision are gone.

But none of this gets to the real problem.  I'm doing too many things on my computer... spending too much time there.  Before email, Facebook, and chat, I actually relocated my carcass to where my buddies were.  That was before the terms 'quality time' and 'bonding' were used.  I think we just called it 'grabbin' ass'.  Who needed ear phones when we could have LOUD!

So, resolved:  I'm gonna do less on my PC.  (Really, now.  Who needs Google Earth?)  Like cleaning out the attic.  (If all my email vanished in a puff of smoke, who would care?)  Like making a list before I go shopping.  (Oh boy, another toolbar).  Like listening to music more than playing with it.  (Pandora, YouTube... doh, there I go again.) Because the real problem is me:  I collect.  I impulse buy.  I get sold on the latest hyped up craze.  I let urgent take priority over important.

And I'm running out of lifespan.  How 'bout you?