R.I.P Microsoft? Baloney.

Mary Jo Foley pointed out an article that I thought was a little odd to say the least.

"It seems to have become trendy to sound the death knell for Microsoft these days. I guess I'm not quite as much of a purveyor of doom and gloom when it comes to the Redmond software vendor's prospects for the future. That doesn't mean Microsoft doesn't face serious challenges, some of which can be attributed directly to its sound but scary policy of listening to customers. But to claim the smell of rot is in the air (with some pretty flimsy evidence supporting that premise) seems a bit premature to me."

I followed the link to the ABC News story 'R.I.P Microsoft' by Michael Malone, an established tech insustry pundit.

As Mary says, his conclusion that Microsoft is about to die is founded on a few assumptions that I can say with a fair degree of confidence, are utterly wrong.

First, Malone asks:

"The company just announced a powerful new search engine, designed to take on Google -- but did anybody notice?"

Did any one notice?  Not only did they notice but they wrote, blogged, analysed, critisised, commended, speculated and ranted about it.  Today, at time of writing, nearly 2 weeks after MSN new search officially launched, there are 1,000 articles appearing on MSN news search and 355 articles on Yahoo News relating to MSN Search. Technorati, the blog search engine, is returning 22,000 blog entries.  I think it is fair to say the announcement was not ignored.

Another bit of Maloney Baloney:

"Does anyone out there love MSN? I doubt it; it seems to share AOL's fate of being disliked but not hated enough to change your e-mail account. "

Well, there are those who seem to like, if not love some MSN stuff out there.  What about James Chan in China, one of the nearly 1 millions MSN Spaces users since launch in late 2004, who says:

"I've been using MSN Spaces for no more than one and a half months but it's long enough to fall in love with it."

or Melissa who writes:

"Thanks for this MSN Spaces.  I totally adore this page.  Simple, elegant, and easy to use.  And it's free.

I can express myself fully on this page and let my friends know more about me. I especially like the "Lists".  I can now access to my favourite sites where ever and when ever I have internet access.


What about Shaan Hurley who posts, "Desktop Search Tools - I love MSN Desktop Search!", or the passion of someone who spends their time collecting these MSN Emoticons online, or Louisa875 who says about MSN Messenger:

"I love it, I've got lots of friends on MSN from, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, UK, Netherlands, Italy (when my nephew was on hols) - all for the price of broadband - just think of the phone bill otherwise - heck I wouldn't even know half of these special people without MSN"

Malone then drives his final apparent nail in the coffin:

"And do college kids still dream of going to work at MS? Five years ago it was a source of pride to go to work for the Evil Empire -- now, who cares?

I bump into the interns in the corridors, they tell me they love the opportunity - and they've every right to be proud.  But that's not really the point.  What does matter (to Microsoft) is how many students are using Microsoft technolgies to create cool stuff.  Here's a couple of numbers from Imagine Cup, in 2004:

"More than 10,000 students from 90 countries started out on the road to Imagine Cup 2004 in the past 12 months, competing in a variety of regional, national and online competitions to earn positions in the worldwide finals. Thirteen teams from countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia took the top three places across four invitationals - software design, short film, rendering and algorithm"

Imagine Cup is a competition, no one forced these students to enter.

Of course there is frustration with Microsoft, but to say that our demise is nigh because everybody hates Microsoft or that it is irrelevent is, well, just a little OTT, isn't it?

Update 13 Feb 2005:

Robert Scoble has a great response to Maloney's article,

"He says he smells rot inside Microsoft.

I take this very seriously. Why? Because if you know Michael he's good at smelling out the rot in companies (his article gives several examples).

I'm not going to disagree with him. Why? Because that would prove his thesis correct.

Instead, I invite Michael to come over to Channel 9. See the kinds of things we're doing, or come up to campus. I'd be happy to give him a tour to see the inside of Microsoft and show him why Longhorn went back to the drawing board."

Now, I don't think I am wearing 'rose tints', as suggested in a comment by an anonymous co-worker.

So, just to be clear, I have my reality glasses on...I agree with Robert when he points out:

"Yes, Microsoft faces difficult challenges over the next few years. Apple is firing on all cylinders. Linux continues to come on strong on a variety of fronts. Google is firing on all cylinders. Silicon Valley is rocking again (Yahoo, eBay, Amazon, Cisco, and tons of little companies are hiring). Firefox is getting downloaded in the tens of millions."

And like Robert, have some things about Maloney's article I'd like to refute and this is where my post above is coming from.

Comments (39)

  1. A Question says:

    What proportion of the visitors to your blog use IE?

    How has this proportion changed over the last year or so?

  2. Samboy LIms says:

    Zeta, Well Hakon is very well living up to his name. He is an absolute ‘Lie’.

  3. . says:

    You are absolutely right, the fact that I no longer use MS Office or IE or Outlook means NOTHING to the business interests of Microsoft. Nothing at all. The fact that I am now no longer licensing MS Office and other software means NOTHING. Nothing at all. Lets not let the reality of the situation get in the way, maybe you should take off those rose tinted spectacles you are issued with.

    Open office is mature and usable more than enough for rollout in the enterprise, same for Thunderbird. They are easier to manage also in the enterprise because they dont stomp about the file systems hidey holes and registry.

    You think I stand alone? Look around.

  4. . says:

    MSN? We use Jabber in our enterprise.

    Office? We use OpenOffice 1.9

    CRM? Exchange? Look around. There are other capable systems without the Licensing hassles that Microsoft throw in our path.

    The only way Office gets on a CONSUMER desktop is via the OEM licences preinstalled or packaged in shelf bundles, students and consumers are shopping around and FREE is always a great deal.

    Forget spouting on about Groupware and pfft Staroffice being shitty and Office is da biz with change tracking and so on, consumers dont need this stuff, enterprises can use open office very well thank you.

    Excel? Check out Calc.

    Acrobat? Open office writer even exports to PDF, free viewer downloadable and same for powerpoint, free viewer and openoffice has Impress. Its a very very capable office suite.

  5. . says:

    Joined in Microsoft in October of 2002

    Well, ive been there longer than you and yes Microsoft has issues and Office is gona lose to openoffice on the non OEM bundled consumers and its losing on the enterprises for office. Exchange and CRM are the next targets.

    Start wearing reality glasses dude and dump those rose tints. You are whats holding back microsoft with your unreality vision TM 😀 Take your head from yer anus and look around at whats out there and what you are facing. If you dont run those other applications on your machines or even use them you are blind and it will come up and bite you in the ass bad.

    That ignorance can be costly to you. Im an SDE incase you are wondering.

  6. . says:

    MSN, voice codecs even using CLEP codecs skype is much clearer for full duplex conversations not to mention its over SSL.

    MSN beta is SHITE extreme its RINGTONES and WALLPAPERs bubble buttons that people dont want. Its a hinderance of glitterballs and flares and you expect people to pay for that and yet take MS seriously in the IM market? Laughable. If we want glitterballs and flares we run AOL not MS.

    This is what happens when we recruit PMs that are all IMAGE IMAGE IMAGE and less WORK WORK WORK. Hows that messy spikey hair dude 😀 Still rushing out for Fiber to fix it before that next meeting?

  7. . says:

    Search engines, really, now I use Copernic search client to pool the results and summaries. You think all those adverts on MSN are improving my productivity? Nope. Its all Disco balls and flares. Copernic cuts through all that for me, same for using the Search bar feature of Firefox. Just the results.

    Im not going to waffle on about Linux taking over the desktop, its nowhere near that, we all know that but where it is biting into Microsoft’s business is the applications like Office, once Exchange gets some good competition out there then its really going to bite. Still want to be on the Office BU? 😀 You think 3Degrees was a great hit? Maybe with pre teens but thats not really a big money spinner is it now unless you are into the PAYG mobile market for ringtones and SMS.

  8. . says:

    Virtual PC, we all know VMWare is king in this domain, no excuse not to use VMWare. Price? Well we all know alot of users download it. Price isnt an issue. Reality dude. VPC is for mac users. Let them have it 🙂

    Im even running ESX on my laptop as a VM base to ease managability of my platforms. ESX true VM host with windows as my guest OS, easy to backup, just copy that guest install. Easy to restore too, and move about. No driver issues either for Linux on ESX host. Performance? Not an issue, I run a 64bit 2gb laptop, runs fine, wait until I go duel core 64bit it can only get better. VPC is a TOY in this domain.

    Lets move onto handhelds, sure Pocket PC is a win here and rightly so, the embedded market is going to be big for MS but its got alot of competition also. Visual studio, well no other IDE is close to that right now, we all know that but theres always hope.

  9. . says:

    Hotmail, well I no longer use Hotmail, to get mail from Hotmail is like shoving ones fist up a donkeys arse to get it, no SMTP no POP no IMAP, SPAM, adverts , cluttered UI , breaks with non IE browsers, low storage quotas. Why bother?

  10. . says:

    The only reason people use hotmail is because they dont know any different when they sign up to MSN Messenger, they think Hotmail is REQUIRED to get MSN Messenger. Very missleading.

  11. . says:

    When is MS killing off MS Access, FoxPro and concentrating on SQL Server and its lesser versions for small businesses? Why the diffusion on different products that do the same thing? This is why we have SKUs for market seqmentation. Dump Access, FoxPro and concentrate on a single product line.

    Who did get the blame for Windows ME anyhow?

  12. AT says:

    There are at most 6000 blog entries at Technorati related to MSN Search launch.

    All others are much older.


    Also – I feel that you need to reduce number at least to 1/3 or your original values too.

  13. . says:

    Why is Longhorn copying the Quicktime UI? Its fagoty? What tard in a suit dreamt that up on a low caffine day?

  14. Eric says:

    One thing that I have noticed recently

    is that the only Microsoft advocates you find nowdays

    ARE PAID to be Microsoft advocates.

    Contrast this to the early days of Microsoft.

    In those early days Microsoft was a cult.

    Microsoft was the liberation from the expensive (mainframe) computer.

    Microsoft has now become that expensive computer.

    The cult is now Linux.

  15. X says:

    It is amazing how many illiterate morons there are in the world! Of course Microsoft is as dominant as ever, and getting more so. Sales of Microsoft server products were up 18% year over year last quarter. The end is near, losers!

  16. z says:

    MS wont lose on the platforms, they will lose on alot of the applications on those platforms.

    The will win on embedded and platforms, they will take a hit on office but it will take a while. What open office needs to do is a Firefox type drive, I now promote openoffice to those that want "copies" of office or word. I say its free, does everything that "consumer" will ever need from a suite. Those people didnt make microsoft money anyway, Microsoft only makes money from enterprises and OEMs on office, not consumers, those people get it from "buddies", well I am one now that no longer keeps office "handy" for those people, I suggest open office 1.9 now. Its good for them..

    Examples of good open source projects.

    OpenOffice 1.9




    Thats just for "consumers" and home "offices" and small businesses

    They are targeting CRM and Exchange now as they know this is where they need to be to take on the enterprises.

    OpenCRX for an open CRM solution http://www.opencrx.com

    OpenGroupWare http://www.opengroupware.org/

    Who says the open source community hasnt got theyre heads screwed on?

    This is where its gona take on microsoft, not the windows linux war, the thing thats going to make users change to Linux or indeed most likely for usasbility to OS X or probably more realistic , not to upgrade is LONGHORN, it scares people, those users will stick to theyre OEM Home XP or Pro. Alot even stick to 2000.

    This is where Longhorn is not going to get a hold, enterprises wont adopt longhorn in a LOOOONGTIME, look how long its taking them to migrate to XP and 2003.

    Fanboi syndrome will be costly to those that cant look around and accept the fact that there is alternatives. I always keep those alternatives that I seem will most likely be a success on my VMWare guest and keep track of them, when they get to a good stage of maturity I migrate to them.

    One criteria for any solution I use now is PLATFORM INDEPENDANCE, this is why openoffice is a WIN! its on many platforms and no licencing hassles. We run a hetrogenous network and this is ever more important to have applications available on all of them.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Silicon Insider: R.I.P. Microsoft?

  18. Anonymous says:

    Lots of folks are talking about this article. While it’s somewhat frustrating that it always seems to be ‘in style’ to rip on Microsoft, the article does has a few interesting items worth digesting.

  19. z says:

    While we are on the subject of microsoft losing ground 😀

    Where can I find an open source AutoRoute or Mappoint clone? I downloaded AutoRoute 2005 , yeah so what I didnt pay 😛 Cry all you want, this is what you have to face up to 😛

    So any takers?

  20. Hmmm says:

    Microsoft smells of rot?

    Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer (probably?) shower at least once a month. I can’t bear to even THINK about the stench of RMS!

  21. x says:

    Gates is just a Janitor now, he has no real signifigance in Microsoft, Balmer was good for microsoft but where is he now? Very quiet atm isnt he? When is his next monkey dance gig on the world tour?

    RMS, when did he last shave and wash?

  22. hah says:

    I got an attached document from my Bank the other day, I opened it in OpenOffice and it was a Word 2.0 document, and it wouldnt open so I promptly mailed the bank back asking if they wanted me to read theyre document they can kindly credit my account with the amount to go and purchase MS Office. They promptly resent the mail in a format that I could read, TEXT in the Body.

    Thats how I deal with companies that send me MS Office formats. Its a very effective way to deal with banks LOL and also a way to get a message to them that not everybody wants to use OVERPRICED software suites full of features that I do not need.

  23. hah says:

    Next time maybe I should send my documents to them as an attached BMP file, I mean everybody has Paint, right? 😀

  24. jock says:

    All geeks stink. The question is which geeks stink the most.

    I suspect *nix geeks are stinkier than Win32 geeks.

  25. hmmm says:

    jock, I disagree. Using a distro like Gentoo gives you time to shower while its compiling.

  26. n says:

    Redhat gives you cooties

  27. Natasha says:

    In my humble experience of working in technology, geeks can be a great laugh and good fun, but can be so obsessed with hating Microsoft, that it becomes amusing. It’s like a religion to them!

    What has been interesting is observing a difference in their attitudes when they start to actually get to *know* Microsoft related products and languages. In my experience, a couple of hardcore Microsoft-basher programmers chilled-out a little once learning XML. They didn’t fall in love with Microsoft, but were able to appreciate the *benefits* of the ‘evil empire’. Extremity in anything is unhealthy and biased… it prevents any kind of objectivity.

  28. Eric says:

    "In my experience, a couple of hardcore Microsoft-basher programmers chilled-out a little once learning XML. They didn’t fall in love with Microsoft, but were able to appreciate the *benefits* of the ‘evil empire’."

    Are you trying to imply that Microsoft invented XML?


  29. Moonbase says:

    Sure, lots of people noticed the search launch (so the author used the wrong wording there) but importantly most panned it and Google and Yahoo’s stock actually went up afterwards.

    WRT MSN, he’s right – it’s a also-ran. Sure, you can find people here and there who like it or even love it – of course. The real test is whether or not is making any headway against it’s main competitors and frankly, as Yahoo’s and Google’s results show, it isn’t.

    WRT student hires, that’s a difficult one to prove although common sense suggests that with a brutally underperforming stock, MSFT has to be somewhat less attractive that it was.

    I notice you avoided his discussion on Apple and Open Source capturing user interest. Can you really debate that? Also his discussion about the inability to ship core products. Again, can you really debate that? Longhorn and the recent delay of CRM come are obvious examples that he’s right.

    Net net, he may/may not be right about his conclusion but he raises many issues that should be concerning. Also, the fact that his conclusion can even be debated says everything imo about what MSFT isn’t doing currently – in case the stock’s brutal underperformance wasn’t a sufficient clue.

  30. Warcraft 3 says:

    Ahh…I thought you launched. 🙂

    At what levels was the beta at? 50% of all MSN searches? 75%? It will be interesting for us all to figure out how effective your ensuing marketing campaign is towards generating additional MSN traffic.

  31. Mary Jo Foley pointed out an article that I thought was a little odd to say the least. "It seems to have become trendy to sound the death knell for Microsoft these days. I guess I’m not quite as much of a purveyor of doom and gloom when it comes

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