Hip project names and cool logos have their price it seems, and Microsoft's Live Labs - incubator to Seadragon, Photosynth, Deepfish, and Volta - is too expensive for this economy. The company is reported to have moved people from Live Labs and distributed them among product groups within the company, reducing the facility's …
"...demonstrate to the world it remained a place of innovation..."
The implicit assumption (that MS ever was a place of innovation) is questionable at best.
>>Design group director Don Lindsay, who also helped craft the iPhone's interface during his time at Apple before Microsoft
Are you sure about that? Don Lindsay joined MS in 2003 if his bio is to be believed. I know Apple have long development cycles, but 3 years of UI design for the iPhone seems unlikely (especially in light of the working beta that was on eBay with a different UI).
At best he'd have been at Apple during the design of Tiger's widgets, which would *sort* of relate to the iPhone, but that's a stretch...
Seadragon has been cancelled before
I'm not sure what's worse...
...that MS doesn't recognise the value of innovating your way through a downturn so that you are ready to take off when the economy recovers, or that they've been incapable of finding useful applications for the innovations that they *did* produce. Wasn't Sea Dragon an acquisition anyway? Or have I got that completely wrong?
Regarding Don Lindsay's movements, the last version of OS X that he touched was 10.3 by all accounts. Things started improving from 10.4 onwards. Coincidence?
"Diminishing the group's ability to transfer innovations to business groups who're understandably giving priority to 'needs' vs. 'opportunities.'"
Does this mean that Microsoft is going to quit blathering on about innovation all the time? Because, clearly, this quote suggests they are now thinking innovation is not important in a down economy.
Gravestone, because I think Microsoft will be thoroughly outflanked by Free software, if they are cutting down R&D and "pie-in-the-sky" projects as it sounds like they are.
Why Innovate When You Can Steal?
MS has never been about innovation. They started business by stealing CPM, rebadging it as MS DOS and then reselling it to IBM. Windows NT (the code base for XP, Vista and 7), was largely based on work done by IBM when MS and IBM were supposedly collaborating on OS/2. MS made off with code that it had little to do with development, then used heavy handed monopolistic behavior to kill off OS/2 (in cooperation with mamby-pamby IBM who didn't know a good thing when they had it). Internet Explorer was a cut and paste job derived from the so called open source software that MS loves to despise, then bolted into the Windows OS in another successful monopolistic blitzkrieg that illegally destroyed Netscape and very nearly brought the internet under MS domination. I could go on and on, but we all get the picture. Despite voluminous its propaganda (aka advertising), Microsoft has never been about innovation. It's simply not in the company DNA. MS was in the right place at the right time and were by far the shrewdest, and perhaps the crookedest, business in the software business and they succeeded in establishing a monopoly. Monopolists don't innovate because they don't have too. Rather, they manipulate their offerings in order to reinforce their monopolistic position, through mandatory file format changes that force feed upgrades otherwise unwanted and unneeded, they intentionally interconnect separate software in order to avoid legal prohibitions against tying arrangements (honest, your honor, Windows simply won't work without Internet Explorer, they're one and the same). Why be responsive to customers desires when you've got no real competitors? And this was indeed the case from the late 1980's until fairly recently. The resurgence of Apple, the increasing importance of mobile devices as computing platforms and the rise of the Netbook spell doom for MS's monopolistic, business-as-usual practices. Why do you think they're attacking Apple, who still have less than a 10% market share, or why they try and force the Dells, HPs and IBMs of the world to drop Linux support or refuse to bulk license Windows to manufacturers that try and sell PCs with no OS pre-installed? They are afraid. . .they are very afraid.