As I perused the morning blog feeds, I had the feeling that I lost all hope in Microsoft. I used to like them, I really did. Back in the 90’s they truly were an
inventive, innovative, leader in the industry. Products like Windows 95 brought computing to the average consumer, and finally made computing fun and easy to use. Sure Apple was around with MacOS, but at the time they were really spinning their wheels with an expensive product that really didn’t have the power that Microsoft and their software partners offered.
Innovations kept rolling off the shelves, such as Microsoft Office 95, Microsoft Bob (hey, I didn’t say there were all good), Encarta, etc. Microsoft really seemed to know what they were doing, and really made products that people wanted and needed. Sure some of the products weren’t the first of their kind, but they were all leaders in the industry for good reasons. Even Microsoft’s landing into the ISP world was greeted as something different (although they were late to the game, and never really got the market share that they needed).
Then something happened. I can’t put a date on it; I think it started happening over time. Microsoft just started becoming less innovative, less exciting, and more of a ‘me too’ company. A lot of their products starting to arrive on the scene after the turn of the century had less and less of the innovative, fresh smell to them, and more of the ‘You will like this because it’s a Microsoft product’.
Active Directory was the first ‘feature’ that I noticed this mentality with. Microsoft saw the inroads that Novell was making with their NDS (now eDirectory) system, and they wanted it too. They threw together a half-baked system and served it up. The first AD systems out there were buggy, slow, hard to use, and most important of all, hard to manage. But, if you were a Microsoft shop, you had to use it, because, well, it was Microsoft.
Product after product, it seemed like MS was caring less about their customers, and more about customer lock-in. Microsoft CRM, which required BizTalk, which required MS-SQL, which only ran on Microsoft Server. Oh, and you had to buy them all from a Microsoft Certified Implantation Company. Most of these mediocre products, but again, if you were a Microsoft shop, you HAD to run them. By this time, the world had changed to the ‘You can’t get fired for buying Microsoft’.
Now we are in 2008. Analysts, and others that don’t drink the Kool-aid are starting to see the overall problem. Microsoft is trying to blaze their way into fields that are already charted, but unknown to them. Microsoft OCS (Office Communication System), if a funny one… Microsoft decided that they wanted to create their own voicemail / PBX system that runs on top of Exchange. They don’t have the know-how, or experience in the field, so they are making the same mistakes that Cisco, Avaya, Nortel and Siemens made 10 years ago. They don’t care, because the industry loves them. They are trying to re-invent the wheel with Silverlight and replace an already stable and popular product. They feel that now they have people addicted and invested in their products that they can simply make so-so products and people will love them.
And now, I have to bring up the news story that made me write this post. Windows Vista, a consumer operating system (because business still won’t touch it after a year and a half) is a horrible mess. I hear more stories (including my own) of people switching FROM Vista than people switching TO Vista. People are installing XP or getting Macs in droves. They are REFUSING to get locked into this product any further.
Simple things like asking the user if they want to really perform this action over and over again. Things like forcing the user to index their hard-drive to do simple searches. Things like making the computer harder to use by making it ‘too easy’. This was not a product that was innovative, as Microsoft would like you to think; it is a product that looked at the landscape, and tried to be just a hair better.
Today came the first official previews of "Windows 7", which will be the successor to Windows Vista. Earlier press releases mentioned lots of innovation that will be going into this product to make it better than Vista. We heard nothing for almost half a year. So, what is innovative?
- Windows 7 will not be using the new MinWin kernel Microsoft touted as the replacement of the Vista kernel. Whoopsie
- WinFS is no more. The revolutionary file-system that was going to change computing will never see the light of day.
- Windows 7 is already delayed. All were were told we had to wait was until 2009. Current timelines put it at late 2010.
- We will see Windows support Multi-Touch. This is about as good as Microsoft Windows running my HTPC. This is such a minor feature, I personally wouldn’t even put it on the box.
That’s it. Mind you this is still 2 years out, so more may be included, but you think Microsoft would have grander plans than this.
But, you can’t be fired for running Microsoft. Well, not yet at least.