Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Microsoft: what really happened?

I finally read the entire How Microsoft Lost Its Mojo Vanity Fair article. It's worth a read for all geeks over 40, despite some obvious flaws. A few quick comments:
  • The article makes Microsoft sound atypical. I don't think it is, I think it's a very typical corporation. It's no more had a lost decade than any other publicly traded company that's not Apple. (Google search is more than 10 years old. What have they done since?). It's only remarkable because it was once so extraordinary.
  • Most modern corporations do something like stacked ranking, they're just not usually so obvious about it. GE's disastrous HR innovations are ubiquitous.
  • Vanity Fair's fact checkers should be stack ranked. Obviously Eichenwald needed help. There are many chronological and tech history errors in the article; I especially don't get what was so remarkable about OS X 10.4/Tiger. 10.3 was the amazing version of OS X.
  • I don't remember mention of the effects of the 1990s Consent decree. That's a curious omission. In the late 90s it was possible that Microsoft would be broken up for business practices that are illegal for de facto monopolies. If Gore had won in 2000 that might have happened. Instead Bush won. (I wonder who Gates funded that year.) Microsoft remained intact; now that seems a Pyrrhic victory.
  • I think Google is following Microsoft's path, they're just not as far along. More importantly, I don't see how Apple can avoid Microsoft's fate. Jobs psyche and power were unique. All publicly traded corporations tend to resemble one another.


Steven Popkes said...

Didn't Gore lose in 2000? Not 1998?

John Gordon said...

oops. Thanks Steve, I fixed.