Interesting Vanity Fair article on MS "Lost Decade" 2000-2010
It's not excessively technical of course, given the article's audience. But it brings up some good points, as well as leaving out some relevant issues:
1. The overwhelming success of the Windows 95, followed by the the tech bubble of 1998-2000 led to an organizational focus on cash cows like Windows and Office and away from new product development. Bill Gates rejects e-reader concept demoed to him by MS staff in 1998, instead pushing out an e-reader app for WinMo devices in 2003-4.
2. Microsoft hired excessively during the bubble market, including many MBA types attracted by stock option compensation and gold-plated healthcare plans. MS takes on a bloated, manager-heavy, bureaucracy heavy work environment.
3. Ballmer, the business and market-minded exec from the early days, becomes CEO with Gates' blessing. Post-bubble hiring slowdown and stagnant product development leads to staff targeting promotions by playing office politics rather than being driven by developing innovations like things were before MS went public. Organizational bureaucracy gets worse, with projects taking forever, slowed by too many meetings. Vista is delayed, and when it launches, is extremely buggy and does heavy damage to Windows' reputation.
4. Mobile: MS engineers quoted as saying that the WinCE-based Windows Mobile OS was miles ahead of the competition when it came out (even as horrible as it may have been to use). Failed to capitalize on the lead by iterating it more rapidly.
Possible important areas that weren't included:
1. DOJ and EU antitrust case ruling impact: did that play a role in keeping MS from implementing or even developing the whole integrated ecosystem approach they're getting around to in W8?
2. Why did the Xbox succeed? Was it because MS was willing to take losses in order to get market share? Was it because Halo proved to be a must-have game and was exclusive to the console? Or because Xbox Live was the first console to get online console gaming right?
3. OEMs: Did MS avoid in-house hardware development for too long in order to no piss off OEMs, who buy Windows licenses by the millions? Could MS have done more to engage OEMs in developing hardware for new products.
Again, not a technical article, and focuses a a lot on organzational dysfunction. Interesting read however and I'd like to get people's opinions on it. Also, I'm hoping this stops the endless duplicate threads about Surface currently shitting up the front page.