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Deep Thoughts on Microsoft, By Nat Friedman and Mini-Microsoft

Two very interesting takes on the climate at Microsoft that I wanted to flag for the folks not picking up my del.icio.us links:

First, Nat Friedman of Novell (link):

Microsoft’s focus has always been on developers, and when you hear Ballmer and Gates talking about Longhorn, you hear them talking about WinFS, Avalon, and Indigo: terms that mean nothing to software users, but that are endlessly interesting to developers.

Or at least, Microsoft hopes that they’re interesting topics. But what if they aren’t?

The web has taught people that low-tech stuff can be really productive. Lots of people are using PHP, Perl and Python in areas you wouldn’t expect. These are real, salt-of-the-earth tools. By contrast Avalon and some of Microsoft’s other recent efforts at programming environment design look like out-of-touch erudite fluff, with a rank odor of cubicleware evident from miles away.

And this one, an older post that I somehow missed (link):

The Scoble post “Zef says Microsoft can’t hire great programmers” ( Zef’s link) brings up one truth I’ve seen since the internet bubble: Microsoft has a really hard time hiring quality people. We go hunting for them in the wilds of East Europe. Why don’t people want to come to work for Microsoft?

My take: because we’re big, boring, and too entangled in each other’s business. We are now IBM. We spackle in process to make up for the gaps in intellectual progress. Perhaps I have a snazzy new web app idea. There’s no way I could incubate that into something that would ever see the light of phosphor as a Microsoft-brand. I’d have to hook Passport up to it, and then glom some sort of MSN story on-top of it. No, we might say how we need to be quick and agile and deft, but then we end up spending 1000% of our time trying to justify it.

Categories: Trends & Observations.