Should Microsoft Stick to The Basics?

That, in essence, is what Mary Jo Foley asked over at ZDNet this morning. She makes several salient points, and I must concur. The best thing would be for Microsoft to pull back from search, entertainment devices, and any other nonsense (what’s next? Microsoft thermally controlled underwear for Eskimos? No, I guess that would be too small an audience).

Gates has big ideas about lots of things, but his mind tends to wander these days. He can’t seem to decide what is good for the world, raping it with bad software and plentiful lawsuits or being a benefactor to the less fortunate. This lack of focus may be fine for one person, but is totally destructive for a corporate entity.

Look at the mess that is Vista.

Now a word here first – as I have said many times - perception is reality, so I don’t need any anecdotal tales of the wonders of Vista. Those who are its strongest proponents, and have a level of intelligence about it, are the first to admit that the hardware needs are much greater than were advertised, the driver support is still sadly lacking, and the promised benefits are few.  Example: A gentleman on one of the popular websites was building a few machines for the use of his immediate family. He stated that since he was going to accede to the use of Vista, he would need a tricore processor, and 8GB of RAM, to achieve a level of system responsiveness that could be had in XP with a single processor and 1 GB of RAM.

Microsoft worked on Vista for the greater part of six years, delivered about 30% of what was initially advertised, and did not do that well. The fact that some of the latest tests of Vista SP1, delivered over a year after the GOLD release, are just beginning to show close behavior to XP (not performance parity, by any means) shows that Microsoft lost focus on the project.

Now imagine for a moment, all those people who were working on pet projects of Gates and Co., focused instead on getting the promises of Vista delivered. Vista could be fast, do what Gates promised (remember WinFS?) and cost less. Why? Because a concerted effort would have meant that less advertising was needed at the outset, and much less spin control to quell the discontent among those afflicted with Vista.

One of our early presidents was known to say ‘Walk softly, and carry a big stick’. A popular musician a few years ago released an album called “Let the Music Do the Talking’. Why can’t Microsoft marry the concepts? It should walk softly, let the quality of its software do the talking, and also let the quality act as a big stick, to beat down the idea of anyone using other software.

As all should know, quality needs no excuses, little advertising, and speaks highly of its progenitor.


Quote of the day:

It’s so much easier to suggest solutions when you don’t know too much about the problem. – Malcolm Forbes


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[tags] Microsoft, core business, advertising, spin control, focus, Vista, WinFS, promised features [/tags]