If I were a Microsoft investor, I would be very, very worried.
Why? Primarily because of Craig Mundie's speech on May 3rd 2001,
which seemed like a attempted justification of Microsoft's
seemingly monopolistic ways. It also seems schizophrenic, which I
will elaborate upon later.
Microsoft is a company that has relied upon constant and
somewhat spasmodic growth in the software to fund research. Now we
are beginning to level out and reach a normalised logarithmic
growth as opposed to the chaotic electronic investments, that after
all were made before financiers really understood the Internet. How
can Microsoft adapt to this normalised market? I believe primarily
by shifting their modus operandi back a few years, to the years of
How, they will achieve this is simple, a baseline shift of
common standards. The Unix platform, albeit it jerkily, has strived
to produce commercial standards and interoperabilty. This seems to
have been hampered by commercial wrangling. Truly open standards
have not been effected by this in the same way. Microsoft, like it
or hate it, has not suffered from the same problems as commercial
Unix because it has had reasonably static platforms for significant
periods of time. Microsoft products have never really sold on
Microsoft products have never really had any competition because
they are not sold on interoperability and versions have remained in
circulation for a long time. Until now. I know what you're probably
thinking, "Oh, no. Another Linux tirade", but this isn't
Microsoft's big problem. The big problem is how to balance
expansion, increasing profit and standards. It is a chicken in the
egg problem. Microsoft have out-versioned themselves. They have
diversified their product base to the extent that customers no
longer know which product to buy. The Microsoft description of each
product varies, specifications change and features are added with
each service pack. Is this innovation? Yes. Is this sensible? No.
It is possible to innovate oneself out of the market and become a
Jack of all trades, master of none.
A big problem is duplication. Microsoft are spending huge
amounts of money research what are effectively mutations of
existing standards in a malopropos way. I do not consider this
innovation, I consider this a waste. If I were a Microsoft investor
I would be very concerned about this trend.
User centric marketing is the oddest, and schizophrenic
development. User centricity seems like a odd mixture off vampirism
and fluffy bunny conditioning. In a way you want to empower the
user, user friendliness, and in another way you want them to buy
the next version of your product. Which seems to sum up the .NET
Well where does this sit when juxtaposed with the ever expanding
so called open source community. The open source community has been
user-centric for some time. It's just the user base hasn't been the
same as Microsoft's. It could almost be described as the .NET
philosophy, albeit first and without the vampirism. The open source
community does not want your money. Unless there is a service it
can provide. Microsoft wants to sell you software and sell you
services. The open source community really wants neither, but the
profit exists in services and packaging.
Which version do you want today? This is one of my current
worries and one of Microsoft's foibles. Upon which version should
we train our staff? The open source community doesn't have this
problem. You specify something, you create something and then you
train. With Microsoft software they specify something, they create
something and then you train. This is not the best fit and most
companies end up using multiply licensed proprietary software to
plaster over the cracks in the software. This is not often factored
into the cost ratio.
Microsoft wishes to create stability, but equally wants to
create innovation. Innovation is something that you can pick and
choose. Not so in Microsoft's profit model. Microsoft is beginning
to look very risky. It is a company that has relied on constant
growth. The release frequency of products appears to be increasing
which to me suggests a lack of growth and a scratchy attempt at
creating new markets.
It seems that .NET exists: it is the Internet. Microsoft wants
to sell it back to you.
To me this doesn't seem like too bigger an ideological battle,
rather more of a common sense versus waste argument. Be pragmatic
on your next upgrade and remember the frequently quoted Chuck D,
"Don't, Don't, DD-Don't believe the Hype!".