Microsoft through X Ray Glasses: Oh, Ugly.

July 3, 2012

Vanity Fair is a magazine I associate with fashion. Sun glasses, movie reviews, and perfume. I was incorrect. Vanity Fair is a business analysis journal. I suppose it wants to become the four color version of the estimable Harvard Business Review or the HBR before the editorial excitement over the alleged mixing article subjects with editorial fun.

I read “Microsoft’s Lost Decade.” I suppose I will buy the hard copy issue with the story. I hope I don’t get funny looks about my choice of reading material. I suggest you read the article. Quite a dark look at the Redmond-based giant.

Here’s the passage I liked:

When one of the young developers of MSN Messenger noticed college kids giving status updates on AOL’s AIM, he saw what Microsoft’s product lacked. “That was the beginning of the trend toward Facebook, people having somewhere to put their thoughts, a continuous stream of consciousness,” he tells Eichenwald. “The main purpose of AIM wasn’t to chat, but to give you the chance to log in at any time and check out what your friends were doing.” When he pointed out to his boss that Messenger lacked a short-message feature, the older man dismissed his concerns; he couldn’t see why young people would care about putting up a few words. “He didn’t get it,” the developer says. “And because he didn’t know or didn’t believe how young people were using messenger programs, we didn’t do anything.”

Notice that it was an older man who was the dolt. Since I am 67, I can relate to this. But I am not a dolt; I am an addled goose.Vanity Fair does do quite a hatchet job. Is it warranted? Who knows? What I took away from the Lost Decade piece is that Microsoft does nothing right in the eyes of this particular HBR like write up on the Vanity Fair Web site.

Stephen E Arnold, July 3, 2012

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