Friday, October 05, 2007


What's Wrong With WicroWoft

Over on Major Nelson's blog is a little post entitled...forgot. Something about what's wrong with Microsoft's approach to software and services as opposed to say, Google.

Here's my top 10 list of wrongheaded snafucks.

1. Asking the Public.
For god's sake. "Involve the community." That's a PR move. As if high-ups are going to take any honesty to heart. As if the public has enough information to give insightful answers. You need to be in the company to know where the dirty shit is rolling from. Preferably someone who's worked under every facet of the company. Human Resources? The pretty girl at the front desk?

2. Insecurity.
Stop comparing yourself to Google! Face it. You will never be Google. Just beat Yahoo. Not everyone likes the blank screen Google provides. Some ppl enjoy being spoon fed their info. That's why Yahoo's still in business. The less stuff you make people learn, the better. Bundle shit with your computers. Make language localizations a top priority. Get all Yahoo's business. Solve your insecurity by actually beating someone new. Beating Netscape was a long time ago.

3. A Better Business Model.
Software development supported by ad revenue. That's how Google is kicking everyone's ass. You can't beat FREE! Not only is it free, it's good enough. Offer up Office for free, and make available all the really business oriented features (like replication) as a pay for service. Make integration a paid package too. But offer everything else for free. Lose a chunk of your market? It's already gone anyways. Hell, make Vista free. This probably isn't possible due to business inertia. I suggest you prototype new products and services with this model. Xbox Live, maybe?

4. Simplicity.
7 versions of every software? 4 versions of every service? It's one thing to maximize your profit by your audience but no one's going to read 3 pages of features list. Offer 2 version. Pro and Free. Simplicity isn't just good for the consumers, it's good for the bottom line. How much advertising money does it take for Microsoft to gain a new customer? How are you going to compete against the new age of cellphones and blackberries?

5. Corporate Culture.
Make better decisions. Find good people to make better decisions. And then let them. Prototype, and test a leader. Then give him a project. Give him a timeline. Rinse, Repeat. Do not let a PERSON define success. Let multiple people and if possible, use numbers as a metric. Is the Zune the second most popular player in America? Does it sell at a good price? Is it a fashion statement? If no, J. Allard is not your golden boy. Look elsewhere.

6. Vista
The problem with Vista is that Microsoft doesn't have a retail presence. Fuck making computers. Just own some brick and mortar shop. You will lead by example. Lots of distributors have their own retail outlets. It's a way to control ppl like Micheal Dell who will bow to public pressure. You want to popularize Vista? Well, start selling computers at cost. You exert just enough pressure to light a fire up Dell's ass. You can pull back at any time.

7. Xbox
Do not nickel and dime. Do not charge for things that have been free since time immemorial. Do not charge for online. Do not buy 2nd tier gaming companies. Do not buy Rare. Do not buy Lionhead. Do not buy Peter Molyneux. Buy cheap stuff. In order to do that, you need a good buyer. Someone that knows the business. I suggest someone from Scandinavia. At least two people from the indie scene (people can smell bad programmers from a mile away---'ahh, that guy has time to bathe. fire him.')

8. Start killing bad projects. Microsoft Surface is stupid. Table PC. Dumb.
Start new projects. Not new new but new and profitable. ISP business. Wifi infrastructure. Retail. Don't aim for hotly contested business. Go into several small pools and eat them. Silverlight is a good idea. Adobe is only one fish. Xbox was a good idea. Bad idea now that Nintendo has Iwata. Don't want to step on your developer's toes? Design your software to be compatible with your competitor. It's the same philosophy as having a retail presence. Drive a fire up your developer's ass, saying 'don't make Photoshop so expensive, bitch!' It makes Silverlight an even better idea since it's a platform--all platforms are belong to Microsoft, donchaknow? And if they don't know, make them know. Platforms are expensive to support. Finish killing Sun's Java Machines and then work on Silverlight. Do more little projects. Any software market that has one big fish needs to be controlled. Fuck up Adobe Photoshop. Fuck up Autocad. Fuck up Itunes.

9. Quality Control.
This is a huge endeavor. Do this first before everything else. TQA. Forget all about the six sigma crap and make your own metrics.

10. Even Big companies have weaknesses.
That means you have strengths as well. One, bundle software into your operating system. Get sued? Wouldn't have this problem if Vista was free. But regardless, you can still bundle. Just bundle it with a competitor as well. IE has Microsoft labeled on the ass--that kind of official status beats everything. Two, businesses are still under Microsoft's fiefdom. Use them. Talk with them. Solidify the hold even further.

As for weaknesses: Microsoft has a lot of money. But it aint infinite. Don't waste it on shit ventures. Also, for all it's success, it is still a software company. One product is heavily dependent on a PC market that's slowing down and commodotizing. The other product is being attacked by free products like OpenOffice and Google Writely. Revenue will shrink. Revenue IS shrinking.

But the thing with good solutions is that they are self correcting/fulfilling. This 10th thing is a deadline for the company to start making better products and to focus resources. Fix the first 4 on the list, the others will buckle like dominoes.

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