Microsoft’s Creative Destruction
A great New York Times op-ed by a former Microsoft VP about the company’s failure to innovate.
When we were building the tablet PC in 2001, the vice president in charge of Office at the time decided he didn’t like the concept. The tablet required a stylus, and he much preferred keyboards to pens and thought our efforts doomed. To guarantee they were, he refused to modify the popular Office applications to work properly with the tablet. So if you wanted to enter a number into a spreadsheet or correct a word in an e-mail message, you had to write it in a special pop-up box, which then transferred the information to Office. Annoying, clumsy and slow.
My personal take: I think Microsoft products that are developed in a silo there are generally quite good (Visual Studio comes to mind). The problem starts happening when other departments get involved. The Xbox is great since it is generally left alone to do it’s gaming thing. But if you look at the video services offered for Xbox, they are a total mess of confusion. Zune video? Microsoft marketplace? And don’t forget Netflix. Instead of just creating a simple store (turn on Xbox, select “Videos”, pick one), they went with an array of options from various departments all over Microsoft.