Joel on SoftwareMicrosoft has been sliding downhill for a long time. The last good version of Word came out @ 1995, Windows 2000 was the last quality OS (XP is a Win2K derivative and a step backwards in some ways), Excel has been frozen in time (mercifully it's not deteriorating). Sure they mint money, but that's merely billions (and billions).
...Every piece of evidence I've heard from developers inside Microsoft supports my theory that the company has become completely tangled up in bureaucracy, layers of management, meetings ad infinitum, and overstaffing. The only way Microsoft has managed to hire so many people has been by lowering their hiring standards significantly. In the early nineties Microsoft looked at IBM, especially the bloated OS/2 team, as a case study of what not to do; somehow in the fifteen year period from 1991 - 2006 they became the bloated monster that takes five years to ship an incoherent upgrade to their flagship product.
Lately the long decline seems to have accelerated. Microsoft "Live" is a chaotic mess (try installing Onfolio on the Live new toolbar in IE 6). IE 7 has delivered yawns and groans. Their vaunted webcam shipped with software that blue-screened many laptops. Vista is likely to be a bloated heap of trouble for years to come.
Microsoft is too powerful to be displaced by OS X or Linux, so we'll all suffer their failures for years to come. Fortunately, even if it won't displace Microsoft significantly, OS X is available for use ...