Oct 152005

Microsoft continually updates things by changing the interface or adding new, mostly working, functionality but hardly ever by fixing the brokenness of existing functionality. They might enhance functions but they seldom fix the primary brokenness. I grow weary of Microsoft’s continual upgrades that are suppose to make their software better — unfortunately they only have their shareholders in mind and not their customers. Each features links you more tightly and in proprietary ways with other Microsoft products. They should at least improve basic functionality of existing features and expand the interoperability with other products, both Microsoft and non-Microsoft.

This is the same lesson that IBM had to learn in the 90’s — Their proprietary, non-interoperable tendencies led to a sound thrashing by the market. I keep wondering why the market has allowed Microsoft to continue this bad behavior. Yes, the market has allowed this to happen. So everytime you decline to investigate non-Microsoft products out of hand, you are contributing to the problem.

Now it is important to not dismiss Microsoft products out of hand too. Doing so is just bad business sense. But it is time that the market stop following the Jones’ and do their own homework when it comes to software acquisition. You need to evaluate not only features(+), security(+) and vendor strength(+) but vendor lock-in(-). Vendor lock-in exposes you to increased future prices. The longer you allow yourself to be ensnared the higher the cost of escape. Not allowing for vendor lock-in in your analysis is actually exposing your company to increasing risk.

Microsoft needs to be forced to compete via the strength of their product and their ability to free businesses to use them in new and unexpected ways and not by using a death embrace of intra-product lock-in. Every time Microsoft uses a closed, proprietary file format or communication protocol they are displaying their “not getting it.” When Microsoft starts publishing formats and protocols, allowing them to be used freely and openly, then that is when Microsoft will start to “get it.” When Microsoft starts adopting open specifications with out attempting to subvert them (think OASIS) then they will have “gotten it.”

 Posted by at 9:56 am

  2 Responses to “What Microsoft doesn’t get…”

  1. You begin with your “fact” that Microsoft “continually updates things. . . but hardly ever by fixing the brokenness of existing functionality.”

    I too am amazed about the amount of “features” that Microsoft continues to cram into their products. And I know that there are plenty of people that are now using the latest version of Microsoft Word – yet only still write simple letters!

    The development of software continues at an accelerated rate – unlike the Automobile industry that can wait a year to show off new features. While Microsoft Word began as just a “word processor” – that same exact program is now used in corporate environments where people collaborate on the same document and publish them directly to the web!

    Now I have no problem that many people do not need this functionality. But the home user didn’t think they’d need high-speed Internet access a few years go either.

    You mentioned that IBM had lessons to be learned the 90’s due to “their proprietary, non-interoperable tendencies” – huh? Are you talking about the same IBM that gave us the IBM PC – that spawned an entire home computer industry with their VERY OPEN system?????

    Microsoft’s file format is NOT a “a closed proprietary file format” it’s well documented – but more importantly the next version of Microsoft Office is completely built on an OPEN file format!

    I have no problem when some simply has a bias towards their software due to Security, Features, or simply how it “Looks”. . .but as a Microsoft consultant, it’s frustrating when people dislike their products for the “wrong reasons”

  2. Have you ever encountered an environment where “used in corporate environments where people collaborate on the same document and publish them directly to the web” was in wide spread and/or continued use? Word is not a Content Management System in any stretch of the imagination. It is another example of shoe-horning functionality. Word is presented by Microsoft as a Shimmer type of product.

    The argument about the internet is a specious argument, unless you are suggesting that Microsoft knows better than it’s customers.

    Yes, I am talking about that IBM. You, of course, realize that IBM viewed the PC as a mistake and tried to foist MCA on the world. There is example after example of the attempts to herd the computing public back in to the IBM corral. That same “PC mistake” by IBM launched Microsoft itself. See what “openess” can do. It is a very powerful argument against closed, proprietary systems.

    Microsoft’s file format for it’s past and currently shipping applications is indeed not open. I challenge you to submit the link to the specification for any shipping verison of Word. I present http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/no-word-attachments.html as defense for my position. As to MS’s announced file format, I challenge you to prove that MS is and will keep it open and not try to stymie other applications from reading/writing that same format. Their history does not lend any weight to your argument.

    My arguments are neither wrong nor untrue. I too am a consultant but I champion the cause of my employers not my suppliers.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.