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Getting Large Usually Means Getting Stodgy

February 4, 2010 12:22:05.896

Everything I read about Microsoft lately sounds like a replay of IBM back in the 80s: years of coasting on a profitable business (Mainframes then, Office/Windows now) have led to a very inward looking company. The NY Times has an article from Dick Brass that makes an interesting point about Tablets and Office:

When we were building the tablet PC in 2001, the vice president in charge of Office at the time decided he didn't like the concept. The tablet required a stylus, and he much preferred keyboards to pens and thought our efforts doomed. To guarantee they were, he refused to modify the popular Office applications to work properly with the tablet. So if you wanted to enter a number into a spreadsheet or correct a word in an e-mail message, you had to write it in a special pop-up box, which then transferred the information to Office. Annoying, clumsy and slow.

Rob Fahrni points out that the VP who pushed that POV was Steve Siofsky, who's now even more influential at MS. I think the next few years at Microsoft are going to play out a lot like the 80's did for IBM: a large decline (not death), with the possibility of a second (less influential) act - if they get a management team that can adapt to the new reality fast enough.

I lived in East Fishkill, NY when IBM started to run into trouble, and it really left a mark on that area - most jobs were either directly with IBM, or in businesses that served them or their staff. It took a long time before that area was able to diversify off being such a "company town" - I suspect Redmond is in for a lot of the same.

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posted by James Robertson


Re: Getting Large Usually Means Getting Stodgy

[anonymous] February 4, 2010 12:30:54.576

This sounds like a useless Apple product trying to justify its existence.

Re: Getting Large Usually Means Getting Stodgy

[James Robertson] February 4, 2010 14:22:28.783

Actually, the tablet story is merely a symptom of Microsoft's problems. Whether the iTab is a hit or a dud is irrelevant

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