Thursday, August 02, 2007

Why Microsoft Can't Keep Up

Remember how Microsoft would take over a market? Just keep cycling through a product until they got to the magic v3 and in the meantime use some nice monopoly muscle to shove competitors out of the way? We saw it happen to the Mac OS for GUIs, WordPerfect for word processing, Lotus for spreadsheets, Netscape for web browsing, Netware for file/printer sharing, ccMail for email, etc. In each case Microsoft took on an entrenched product and essentially copied and improved that product until they won, the aggregate result is really remarkable in hindsight.

So why isn't this working now against Google? Live Search is just as good as Google. Live Maps is gorgeous. But Windows Live pales in comparison to the network offect of Google's array of products. The law of accelerating returns has finally hit software services in a big way with the innovations of web-based software delivery and atomized services. Microsoft is running its old playbook and is trying to copy Google, but by the time they get to their magic v3, Google is already on v10 of 10 different mini websites.

The only decent innovation out of Microsoft in the past few years is Popfly/Silverlight, one thing they really do understand better than anyone else is developers. But without the credibility of Bill Gates pushing a change like he did with Internet Explorer vs. MSN in the mid-90s, I do not see how Microsoft management is going to be able to turn the company towards delivering software in the new Web 2.0 model. Something different needs to happen over there, for example have a free, ad supported version of Windows with a bunch of Internet and collaboration enabled applications. Or they could buy Zoho. SOMETHING!

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