Article: Microsoft’s Lost Decade (Vanity Fair)

A damning piece about Steve Ballmer’s time as CEO of Microsoft… especially the poisonous environment it has produced within the company.

… more than a decade littered with errors, missed opportunities, and the devolution of one of the industry’s innovators into a “me too” purveyor of other companies’ consumer products.

Microsoft became a high-tech equivalent of a Detroit car-maker, bringing flashier models of the same old thing off of the assembly line even as its competitors upended the world.

How could a company that stands among the most cash-rich in the world, the onetime icon of cool that broke IBM’s iron grip on the computer industry, have stumbled so badly in a race it was winning?

… a mastery of internal politics emerged as key to career success.

…. because of a series of astonishingly foolish management decisions …

They used to point the finger at IBM and laugh… Now they’ve become the thing they despised.

… the Microsoft of old, the nimble player that captured the passions of a generation of techies and software engineers, is dead and gone.

Microsoft failed  repeatedly to jump on emerging technologies because of the company’s fealty to Windows

With the competitors [Apple, Google] showing that kind of success – and winning so many accolades – Ballmer’s confidently proclaimed errors have been hugely embarrassing for Mcrosoft’s technical specialists, fuelling muttered complaints that their C.E.O, a man with little technological background, was undermining them within the techie community.

When he makes these predictions that are so horribly wrong…. it is hard to forgive that, because it means that he is hopelessly out of touch with reality or not listening to the tech staff around him.

Already there are rumblings that the time for him to go could be in the offing.

• Vanity Fair:  Microsoft’s Lost Decade

Also:

• The Critical Path podcast discusses the mixed messages from Microsoft about their Surface tablet  – excellent analysis in the second half:  Management vs. Leadership

• The Guardian: Microsoft reports first public loss after charge for aQuantive writedown (good and bad news for the company – huge writedown, but record revenues)…

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