MSFTextrememakeover

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Will this dog ever hunt again?

I haven't published anything for a couple of months, which led one commenter to wonder if I'd been "shut down". That sounded kinda ominous - sorta like black helicopters swooping down from Redmond HQ. Alas, nothing quite so dramatic. I simply haven't seen much that I thought was worthy of comment.

Not that I didn't try. In November, for example, I wrote up the annual shareholder meeting. I titled it "The Annual Transylvanian Convention" because it felt more like I was listening to management dancing the Time Warp at the Rocky Horror Picture Show. There was company leadership delivering their well-rehearsed but increasingly tired old lines, and a cast of shareholders from the lunatic fringe, including head psycho Ken Hutcherson. Had I been in attendance - versus listening to the webcast - I would definitely have sailed a piece of burnt toast in the good Reverend's general direction. Then again, my focus would have been on asking Steve:

A dollar invested the day you took over as CEO in 2000 in any of your main peers/competitors like IBM, ORCL, HPQ, SAP, and AAPL, or simply placed under a mattress, would be worth far more today that the same money invested in MSFT which is down almost 40%. Additionally, despite all the money the company has made during that time, shareholder equity has actually declined, in large part to accomplish even that anemic level of stock performance. Given that track record, why do you think shareholders should continue to support your management team, this BOD, and continue holding the stock moving forward?

I also started putting virtual pen to paper on the various "How best to structure a MSFT/YHOO deal" articles that appeared that month. But then decided that talking about "how best" to structure a MSFT/YHOO merger is really just an oxymoron. Partner? Yes. Merger? Expensive for MSFT shareholders and highly unlikely to succeed.

Anyway, I've continued to follow events and the stock. And it's not like there haven't been a ton of developments on both. WRT the former, I guess I've been struggling to decide whether the recent impressive flood of product releases (updates, SPs, betas, etc.) - gives me hope that MSFT is finally getting its act together, or whether the massively bungled ongoing clusterfuck that is Vista's launch, the continued market share hemorrhaging to Google, the embarrassing success of the iPhone (which appears to have MSFT's mobile group in full damage-control mode and doing public mea culpas about what they need to fix in their UI), etc., convinces me that this company is in a fight for its very survival - and losing. Indeed, that's why the title of this post is a question mark versus a statement one way or the other.

What does it say, for example, when you have a disconnect this big?:

"When Longhorn and the Longhorn wave of products ships, they will be great products. I have absolutely no doubt about that."

Steve Ballmer

"#1. No Wow, No How: Windows Vista

Five years in the making and this is the best Microsoft could do?"

PC World, The 15 Biggest Tech Disappointments of 2007

In fairness, Leopard and iPhone also made PC World's list. But numerous other publications have said effectively the same thing about Vista. More importantly, sales results - or lack thereof - prove it. This release has not resulted in the "2X adoption rate of XP" that management claimed it would. Indeed, it's lagging XP on an apples-to-apples compare. Now that's still a huge number in absolute terms, but it's a significant failure vs even company-provided expectations (far less market ones after five years in the making). Meanwhile Leopard, despite many widely-reported bugs, has been a blowout success for AAPL.

Quite frankly, if you compare the progression of OS X over the past decade with that of Windows, the feature set of both current offerings, then factor in that Apple has spent a fraction of what MSFT has on development and marketing, it is impossible to overstate the magnitude of how badly Microsoft has screwed up here. Effectively, MSFT has ceded its position as the clear leader in personal computer operating systems (btw, I'm obviously talking technology not marketshare - at least for now). That's the core of what this company does and is meant to be good at. In fact, if (when?) Microsoft eventually implodes and the definitive book is written to answer the question "What went wrong?", the Vista/Longhorn drama will no doubt make the top 5 list (FWIW, imo, #1 would be the sense of entitlement that permeated the company in the late 90's and caused them to think they were owed a market and could basically sit back and coast. #2 is the anti-trust loss and resulting fallout which continues to this day - itself caused by the arrogance from #1. #3 being the stupid decision to try and hold back the web vs embrace and lead it, which also led to #2. And #4 being a seemingly endless series of ill-conceived, poorly-executed, big bet "investments" that have collectively been a dismal failure).

For the record, I use Vista as my primary OS and have for some time. I would never go back to XP. As I've said before, it's not that Vista is bad, it's just not nearly good enough - and the $500M marketing campaign has been abysmal. First, you have to seriously question the judgement that said let's message this product as "the wow starts now" knowing full well (as is now clear) that there was very little wow, and that major driver and application compatibility issues existed. Someone high up was either seriously deluded, or (more likely) decided "wtf, let's try and bullshit our way to success". Has this person (or group of people) been fired? I'm guessing "no" (and yes, I know Allchin eventually got the golden parachute and divisional leadership has now changed - I don't think that covers it). Second, day-after-day we are bombarded with AAPL TV ads bashing Vista (many demonstrably misleading or false), endless media pieces containing factual inaccuracies along with calling the OS a downgrade from XP (absolutely not imo), buggy (not in my experience), bloated (okay, that's true), etc. And what do we get from Microsoft?

[Cue sound of crickets].

That's right, mostly silence. For example, I have yet to see even one Vista ad on TV - maybe I'm watching the wrong shows. But compare that to at least one each night for Apple. Is there anyone in Redmond that's actually proud of this release? Willing to stand up and make the case? Smart enough to understand that perception *is* important and that you're losing that battle big time? Anyone with even a glint of the old pit bull that would have come out with teeth bared and ripped into the endless stream of negativity with counter points, explanations, or at least corrected the more glaring inaccuracies? Well, there's at least one, but he's a pretty lonely voice and doing it personally versus officially. Instead, the company seems resigned to hyping Minwin as something "new", and using the promise of a more-streamlined future version of Windows (7) - along with an improved version of XP via a new service pack - to prevent more folks from jumping ship to OS X or Linux. Even Vista's SP1, which I'm sure many people have been working on tirelessly, is being downplayed at every opportunity by the company. It's like the company has thrown in the towel on voluntary upgrades and is content to just wait for hardware refreshes and/or the obsolescence of previous versions to force the change. That'll probably work too, but what's the impact for the next cycle? How many times can the company afford less-than-stellar releases of its flagship products? Or does the company think people should buy Vista as a transitional OS on the way to 64-bit because that's what makes sense for MSFT? If so, good luck with that approach. Netting it out, while the product isn't nearly as good at it should have been, it's much better than current perception. Blame for the latter rests squarely with MSFT who is failing to tell the story effectively.

I'm already running long, so I won't bother going into detail about the mess Microsoft has made of Search/Advertising and the $B's of shareholder cash blown. Management said to look for a turn by year-end and I was optimistic they could get there. That turn never came. Blodget sums it up nicely here. Excerpt:

Per today's numbers, Microsoft has a pathetic 7% share of the US market, down 3 points year over year. Given the hundreds of millions (billions?) Microsoft has spent on search, it is impossible to overstate how awful this is. Based on past trends, it's only going to get worse.

Despite all the advantages one could ever ask for (browser monopoly, unlimited money and R&D resources, global platform, etc) Microsoft is going nowhere but down in this market. Anyone who says differently is hallucinating.

Abstracting from all this, the real question I'm struggling with is how does a company who leads the industry in R&D spending and has this latent technology arsenal, manage to trail most peers on coming to market with anything exciting? I saw a quote recently that struck me as accurate - especially in the increasingly important consumer space:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke

IMO, this is why the iPhone is succeeding. Yes, you can make a case that much of it is derivative, but the way it's put together is innovative and has that "magic" quality for users. That's why customers wait in line. That's why demand is huge (reportedly as high as 25% of smartphone sales in the US this past Q). That's why people stop to gawk when someone pulls one out in a crowd. Where's MSFT's magic? Do they even strive for that, or are they content to simply keep promising "wow" and not delivering it? For example, check out this mixed early feedback on Hyper-V - a critically strategic product in yet another core technical area that MSFT ceded to someone else (along with marketshare leadership in this case). I realize it's beta, but why deliver it "early" (well, if you forget that the whole thing was already delayed previously) if it's this average and buggy? The public reason is to give folks a chance to try it out, blah, blah blah. I'm sure that's part of it. But you'd have to be an idiot if you think MSFT isn't doing this to try and freeze the market and check VMware's growth - a tactic that used to work for the company back in the 90's, but hasn't really worked since (not that that stops them from repeatedly trying it). And why is MSFT doing that? Well, because VMware didn't sit on their ass this past decade, and instead built a great product that solves a real customer need. As a result, they've been rewarded with a fantastic, profitable, fast-growing businesses that MSFT now covets, and which also poses a potential threat to its cash cows.

Moving on, I see that Mary Jo Foley's predictions for 2008 include a Zune phone. Is there anyone who thinks that the management team who failed on the original Zune, is failing on the current Zune (at least the flash models; Zune 80 is still TBD since MSFT can't seem to ship it in quantity), and hasn't made even a decent deposit on the $20B of shareholder cash pumped in and $6B lost on Xbox (despite being at it for most of this decade), is capable of delivering a "magical" phone? Let me spare you the suspense. If MSFT delivers a phone, it will introduce one or two nice ideas that it fails to even moderately exploit. The UI will be too confusing. It will be too big, too slow, too buggy, suffer from insufficient battery life, and will be poorly marketed. Version 2 - at least a year later - will be better, but still buggy and largely me-too or worse. Version 3 - at least three years after first launch - will finally start to be competitive. Sadly, by that point, MSFT will have burned through minimum $500M and still be losing money, whereas the market leader(s) will be profitable (probably from day one), and will have built a dominant position, leaving MSFT to struggle for 10-20% marketshare table scraps. We see this play out again and again and again and again. Indeed, the only "genius" H&E management in particular have shown, is in maintaining their aura of being MSFT's future - and retaining their jobs - in the face of what can only be described as abject failure on behalf of shareholders.

Sadly, I really don't see any of this changing until there is a change at the top that brings with it an entirely different emphasis on innovation, the minimum bar to ship, and places a far greater value on preserving/enhancing the MSFT brand name rather than continuously squandering/diminishing it by repeatedly shipping things that are half-baked and/or sub-par.

Moving on to the stock, again it's a mixed bag. After finally breaking out of the multi-year trading range, we promptly gave back much of it. This caused at least one publication to ask "What's wrong with MSFT". Luckily, I bought puts because I'd seen this movie before. We've now rebounded somewhat, and should end the year 5-10% better than the NAS. That's a nice recovery from the situation that prevailed for most of the year, and it's easy to get caught up in the euphoria of seeing mid $30's again. However, the fact is that MSFT has still badly underperformed most of its own self-selected peers over the past 5 years (only DELL has done worse):


And don't even bother adding real competitors and current momentum favorites like AAPL or GOOG, who again left MSFT in the dust on the year despite massively outperforming it already over the past five.

Equally concerning, is the fact that MSFT is one of the few companies on this list who have actually shed shareholder equity over that time versus grown it. Yes, the massively stupid one-time dividend (and all subsequent dividends) is part of that. Ditto the ongoing buybacks. But a big part is the unbelievably expensive "emerging bets" that have collectively failed to pay off. Add it up, and you have the current situation where shareholder equity continues to decline and a stock that has badly underperformed over the past five years. Meanwhile, outside of Ballmer and Gates, you have one of the highest paid leadership teams in the industry. Now, does that make any sense whatsoever? I'm talking from a shareholder's perspective, btw - clearly management is making out nicely despite their demonstrated failure to create shareholder value.

Bottom line on the stock, while it may be less overvalued than some on say a DCF basis, unless the company can generate some surprises on earnings and/or execution, it's likely to continue being an industry laggard and struggling to keep up with the market (although it's done better on the latter these past two years). Which is why you have comical stuff like CFO Liddell quoted recently saying (about the share price) that:

I never make a judgment about whether it's too high or too low.

WTF? The guy principally tasked with doing $B's every quarter in buybacks - using our cash - isn't making a judgement about whether the stock price it too high or too low? So are you admitting to being incompetent, Chris, or are you "just" lying? It's the latter, of course. What Liddell really means is that management want to continue abdicating responsibility for the stock - unless of course it happens to go up (in which case they'll be the first to take credit - as they comically did when the stock finally "outperformed" last fiscal, following the crash to 3-year lows the year previous caused by their bungled "spending surprise"). He's also telling you that they plan on buying it back regardless of inherent value because...well, because they're too clueless to redeploy the cash more effectively and need to keep mitigating the dilution caused by their outsized pay packages. And since we shareholders keep letting them, why not?

All of which reminds me of a statement made by a shareholder at the November meeting. Excerpt:

But Tuesday's shareholders meeting didn't have the spark longtime investors remember from the good old days.


"When I used to go to Microsoft meetings, it was like, 'Thank you, you made me a millionaire,' " said James Arnstein of Vancouver, Wash., who was attending his first shareholders meeting since 2000. "The room was just so powerful because you created so much wealth for the shareholders."

That's because back then this dog could hunt. Now, it mostly likes to eat, lie on the porch, and sleep a lot, while shareholders make corporate officers millionaires and underwrite the cost via stock declines and underperformance due in large part to the failure of said management's investment choices, execution, and ability to instill confidence on Wall Street.

So what does the future hold? Can this dog learn to hunt again? That's likely the minimum requirement for this stock to ever provide outsized returns. It may even be required for the company just to survive. Or will MSFT continue its march into irrelevance, struggling to even be an "IBM" ten years from now?

IMO, unsurprisingly, that's going to come down to leadership. Can Ballmer pull it off? I'm doubtful - he's had eight years so far and we've seen the results. Who does that leave? Raikes? He'd seemingly get the nod if Ballmer and Gates have a say, and it's likely the main reason he's stuck around. Is he up to the task? Again, I doubt it. He's simply too invested in what used to work but no longer does. Who does that leave? One of the hip earring-adorned geniuses from H&E that can't figure out basic ROI? Pass, thanks. One of the former CEO's from companies MSFT has acquired like AQNT? That strikes me as the best choice - or of course an outsider. The problem? I don't seen any signs that Ballmer is planning on giving up his chair.

The bottom line is that I really don't know how it will turn out. Even though this post (on re-reading it) comes off clearly in the negative camp, in reality I think the odds are about equal for it to go either way. What do you think? See any reasons to be more optimistic? Pessimistic? I do know one thing: If management plans to go another five years enriching themselves and letting the cost of their failed strategies and execution be underwritten by shareholders, then this holder won't be along for another ride.

 

Update: Further to the discussion of putting out stuff that's half-baked:

Some of the products causing problems?:

Windows Vista Photo Gallery
Windows Live Photo Gallery
Microsoft Office OneNote 2007
Microsoft Office OneNote 2003
Microsoft Office Outlook 2007
Microsoft Money 2007
SyncToy 2.0 Beta

But hey, why would MSFT have thoroughly tested at least those, right?

Update #2: And to give the "pro" side equal billing (although it contains some comments that make even my criticisms look tame):

Update #3: More related articles:

12 Comments:

  • While you go into much more detail as to the how's and why's of the current situation I said pretty much the same thing in a post yesterday (http://www.winextra.com/2007/12/21/prediction-for-2008-consumers-start-saying-goodbye-to-microsoft/) when I suggested that 2008 will see a growing decline in Microsoft's consumer marketshare with most of it being picked up by Apple. Their enterprise marketshare is probably safe for many more years but for now they are losing the WOW to Apple.

    To be fair Microsoft doesn't control the hardware the same way that Apple does which gives Apple a nice advantage in the consumer space but I have seen enough of the different hardware (cases, monitors etc) mock-ups that have be commissioned by Microsoft to know that it is possible that they could affect that part of the end user experience if they wanted to.

    For the consumer it is no longer just the software they are using ... it is the complete package .. hardware and software.

    By Anonymous Steven Hodson, at 12:19 PM  

  • "While you go into much more detail as to the how's and why's of the current situation I said pretty much the same thing in a post yesterday"

    Thx for the link. If I'd seen that, I could have saved myself a post :-)

    By Blogger MSFTextrememakeover, at 2:30 PM  

  • "To be fair Microsoft doesn't control the hardware the same way that Apple does which gives Apple a nice advantage in the consumer space"

    I used to buy that reason. Now, I don't. If poor drivers or crummy hardware are hurting Window's public perception, then MICROSOFT NEEDS TO DO SOMETHING.

    Here is my suggestion:

    Create a website which lists statistics from crash reports. Give each driver a stability rating from 1 to 5. Allow users to vote and write reviews. Then, contractually enforce Dell and other major OEMs to use only hardware which has a 4 or better. There would be early 3rd party backlash and we'd likely lose some partners, but it would solve that problem fast.

    If you are not successful, you have no one to blame but yourself. Some one needs to step up and take responsibility for the quality and stability of Windows (similar story for all similar excuses from around Microsoft).

    By Blogger Brandon Bloom, at 5:57 PM  

  • you're welcome :) although I'm not surprise you missed it .. it's not like WinExtra is the most well known of blogs.

    By Anonymous Steven Hodson, at 7:12 PM  

  • Worth the read, as always (which pretty much guarantees it will go unread and unheeded by those most in need of doing so).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:37 AM  

  • Until last June, I was teaching MIS university courses as an adjunt instructor. In the past two years there was a large change in the perception that students have towards Microsoft.

    Three plus years ago, students greatly admired Microsoft. And I do mean "greatly admired". They spoke of BillG in reverential terms. But in the past two years, students switched to viewing Microsoft like my generation viewed IBM in the 1980s: Stodgy, boring.

    The change was abrupt, as if someone had flipped a switch.

    In class discussions, students today specifically said that Google and Apple are "hip", forward thinking, innovative. While they viewed Microsoft as aging, boring, out of touch, not innovative.

    This abrupt change was quite an eye opener to me.

    Three or more years ago it was unusual to see an Apple computer in use by anyone at the university - as of one year ago, 20 to 25% of all students were using Mac notebooks. Virtually all students had iPods. I am sure that this year, many will now have iPhones. Some good news - beginning this year, a surprising number of high school students (that I work with) were buying Zunes and said they preferred the Zune over the iPod.

    The biggest problem Microsoft had was of their own making - literally their attempt to preserve market position through erection of barriers to consumer choice, rather than by creating features that consumers would choose over competitors.

    They become so focused on preserving the Windows franchise that they lost sight of doing what was right for the customer. This focus permeated the company and influenced - and tremendously slowed down - decision making as every product team was required to create complex synergies across their products - and of course, to help preserve the Windows franchise.

    What Microsoft must do is what any company must do - focus on customer needs. Meet those needs better than the competition. Stop adding features because they are "cool" and "wizzy" and instead add features that solve real customer needs. Stop inventing user scenarios that are science fiction. (For those outside the s/w business, companies like Microsoft create ficitious story lines about people's lives, the problems they face and how a new product or service will solve those problems. This is a valid design technique but only when the scenarios are bona fide, not ridiculus. MS staff tend to invent absurd scenarios so they can create a cool and wizzy bit of technology to solve a problem that no real person actually has. Which gets us back to - focus on real customers and real needs.)

    (Because I am honest, I disclose that I worked for MSFT in the early to mid 90s and continue to own some MSFT stock. I am writing this on my Mac notebook. I use both Mac and Windows XP computers - I was never able to successfully install a Vista upgrade on any XP machine I have.)

    By Blogger Edward, at 11:00 AM  

  • I used to buy that reason. Now, I don't. If poor drivers or crummy hardware are hurting Window's public perception, then MICROSOFT NEEDS TO DO SOMETHING.
    ...Give each driver a stability rating from 1 to 5. Allow users to vote and write reviews. Then, contractually enforce Dell and other major OEMs to use only hardware which has a 4 or better. There would be early 3rd party backlash and we'd likely lose some partners, but it would solve that problem fast.


    You are correct that Microsoft needs to do something, but unfortunately, they have limited options. That anti-trust thingy MSFTExtreme mentioned back in Chapter 2 of the post (really, awesome output. Quality and quantity) would put the kabosh on that "contractually enforce" part of your plan.

    I was in the Windows Group during the AT trial. We tried to force a few OEMs to stop loading some of the more unstable crapware that new PCs came (and still come) cluttered with. It was a big decision for us, since OEMs, not end users, are in fact the main customers for Windows. MSFT doesn't sell Windows to you and me, they sell it to Dell, Compaq, HP, etc. Risking pissing off Compaq in order to stop bleeding the market quality perception of Windows was a tough step. We took it.

    And then the AT trial came along and used that as an example of MSFT strong-arming OEMs. A couple of other problems persist. Hardware makers skimp on driver testing, content to blame MSFT for any problems. Of course, add in the Longhorn driver model debacle, where MSFT failed to effectively manage a change, and it's a trifecta of mutual finger pointing along with hit and miss government regulation.

    To echo the theme of the post, it will take exceptional management to steer a course out of this mess.

    By Anonymous exdev, at 12:45 PM  

  • Edward notes:
    They become so focused on preserving the Windows franchise that they lost sight of doing what was right for the customer. This focus permeated the company and influenced - and tremendously slowed down - decision making as every product team was required to create complex synergies across their products - and of course, to help preserve the Windows franchise.

    I would "quibble" with the word "became". MS never had a customer focus. Gates never had a customer focus. Gates' entire business model of "fast follower, adopt and extend" is predicated on following and subverting competition. MS was/is called "the Borg" for a reason. Gates' legacy lives on.

    And exdev notes:
    And then the AT trial came along and used that as an example of MSFT strong-arming OEMs. A couple of other problems persist. Hardware makers skimp on driver testing, content to blame MSFT for any problems. Of course, add in the Longhorn driver model debacle, where MSFT failed to effectively manage a change, and it's a trifecta of mutual finger pointing along with hit and miss government regulation.

    Driver testing can't be done adequately by anyone, not the driver developer, not the OEM and not MS because the OS has become such an unmanageable, undocumented kludge that no one, not even MS, knows what is supposed to work let alone what to correct when a driver doesn't work. Drivers that do work are written by extremely experienced (in OS internal ideosyncracies) people, and yet they play Microsoft roulette hoping that future patches, installers, and various "features" don't preclude regression testing or breaking a working driver. And should it break, there is the inevitable 6-12 month delay in getting it fixed, assuming the kludge can in fact be corrected and retested.

    MS hasn't even seen the tip of the iceberg yet in Vista resulting from the EU's mandate that MS document interfaces. There is a reason so many devices (i.e. drivers) don't work properly with Vista - it's that Vista hasn't defined, let alone met, what "properly works" means. The myriad companies that develop drivers understandably defer costly reverse engineering of driver interfaces to debug a driver that likely won't be used by an OS that (largely) won't be adopted (yet).

    By Anonymous Charles, at 8:45 AM  

  • The way out of the crapware situation for users is for the OEM's to simply adopt transparent software pricing.

    You go to buy a computer online, the price you see should be for the computer hardware itself. The software should all be unbundled and priced. You should see in plain dollars and cents what Windows (whichever version you pick) costs, and what the additional packages cost. The cost on some of those add-ons could be negative.. i.e. "if you choose this then you can save $X".

    Simple, open, honest. You want a clean computer? Don't pick the other stuff. OEM gets their margin as part of the base hardware price, not by offsetting it with the crapware revenue. The price of Windows is also made obvious just as any other addition to the manufactured hardware would be.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:10 PM  

  • I'm picking up some conflicting vibes here, on the one hand when MS was the undisputedly overwhelming king and competitors were struggling, it was sometimes said "well, it's a free market, all the other guys have to do is come up with compelling products, and the market will have its say on it."

    It seems that in 2006 and 2007 we are starting to see some of that flavor of competition in the flesh. That isn't "bad news" in an absolute sense, it's just bad news if you're an MSFT stockholder.

    If Vista is weak and competing products are good, is there any good reason why the competitors shouldn't gain market share? Wasn't that what they were tasked to do in the first place - compete ?

    It's only bad news if you're attached to the idea that MS must dominate forever, and that the idea of a free market and competition was just lip service.

    Re crummy hardware - MS has made its many billions of dollars by scooping up the high margin OS software revenue while steering clear of that messy low margin hardware business. If they want total control and polish and quality, they should start building computers. Best of luck with that. Can't have your cake and eat it too.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:17 PM  

  • DRM Officially Dead: Last Major Label Sony BMG Plans to Finally Drop DRM

    Now that the music labels have fully abandoned the DRM ship, perhaps Captain Ballmer will now see fit to come about.

    Pulling every last vestage of DRM enforcement from Vista (hopefully by the next service pack) would be good for customers and good for Vista.

    One winces at the rationalizations yet to be heard from MS as to why Vista is "better" left as-is.

    By Anonymous Charles, at 8:05 AM  

  • OMG, if I hear one more Microsoftie complain that they cannot build a good product because the AT case prevents them, Im going to puke. MSFT-Mini has the same sort of "good ideas we cannot do because of the AT case" posts.

    The reason there WAS an AT case was because of the anti-competitive, assholish things the company did that raised the ire of everyone who wasnt getting rich on MSFT stock. To throw up your hands now and use the AT case as an excuse of why you cannot build a better mousetrap is ridiculous.

    If Microsoft did ideas like the driver quality thing above and it really improved the customer experience, do you really think people would sue? And if they did sue and you can hold up evidence that people believed of being a good samaritan, dont you think that would be GOOD press? If the company was seen as trying to do good and being held back by the AT case, you would see a whole different spin on the issue.

    But that is not happening. Every time I try to install XP, I get pissed off all over again with the process and Microsoft. The setup program still loads SCSI drivers from the 1990's but doesnt know what a SATA drive is? No effort at all was spent on making that process easier for customers. I havent even tried Vista because of the terrible things I hear about it from Microsoft employees!

    Quit whining and get the job done. Windows is living on inertia but even a battleship comes to rest eventually....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:22 PM  

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