back to article The axeman strikes again: Microsoft has real commitment issues

Ever since Satya Nadella took the helm at Microsoft in 2014, his PR people have been grooming him to be an Inspiration Thought Leader, preaching Transformation to the TED Talk classes. This took another step with the global launch of his book Hit Refresh, a "masterpiece" of how to scale up the "growth mindset”. [must-read] …

TRT
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Some would say...

that Microsoft trimming down its product line isn't a bad thing. Please don't stop.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Some would say...

Agreed. They need to take it to the logical conclusion and get rid of Windows 10.

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Re: Some would say...

Maybe they could trim down to the bone. Then there wouldn't be any more cloud cr** that never works when you need it, but by MS's account the availability is ta 95 percent and hey 95 percent is good enough, right? Hey, there Mr. Robot car would mind taking me home, please? Mr. Robot car: SIr the clouds are wet and it will be iffy if I can get you close, how about Scotland? Apple and a few others are about to put another major chink in MS's armor. Frankly, even if MS ever did get a car on the road I would refuse to ride in it, their attitude towards the customer frankly su***. And I am sure the customer would like to pay extra to use the cloud that doesn't work 5 percent of the time, would they put a meter in the car and every time the car accesses the cloud the costs would go up while driving you to your destination and gets lost.

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TRT
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Re: Some would say...

I WANT Microsoft to create an AI self-driving car. I really do. I want it to be able to understand everything I say, and I want it to have an emotional core of some kind. And I want it for one reason and one reason only. So I can sit in the back and ask it every two minutes "It looks like you're trying to drive a car. Would you like some help with that?"

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Re: Some would say...

"Microsoft has real commitment issues"

A justification for that might be that a new head (Nadella) can blame all the bad decisions on the previous incumbents and cut all the projects that are failures / money pits / a waste of resources without any baggage or embarrassment...

"that Microsoft trimming down its product line isn't a bad thing"

Agreed - any vendor trimming crappy also ran products is generally a good thing for the rest of their products.

Whilst obviously annoying for those that use any such products Microsoft's share price is likely at an all time high for good reasons. (The one thing that many people agree on that is critical for the future is cloud - and Microsoft overtook Amazon last quarter in cloud revenue, Windows 10 whilst much disliked is already on over 500 million desktops, and corporates are generally in the process of or planning to deploy it.)

The one mystery to me is that they are still releasing regular Windows Mobile builds. Is there a new killer mobile device range coming (and omg are they going to have to be good for anyone to even think about buying them) or is that going to be soon on the chop list?

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Re: Some would say...

I WANT Microsoft to create an AI self-driving car. I really do.

Well that’s one way to avoid paying alimony, give it to your partner and wait - the blue screen of death will have whole new meaning.

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Anonymous Coward

Go Nad

Not so much an instruction, but the fact he talks such utter bollocks!

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Unhappy

There are three general breeds of CEOs:

1. The ones that do nothing but collect the fat pay cheque and bend to the will of their subordinates who really run the company.

2. The ones that quietly get on, provide a clear direction and generally do the right things for both shareholders and the company.

3. The sociopathic idiots who got the job because they are able to easily descend to levels of rudeness, untrustworthiness and back-stabbing lying that would make normal people sick.

It's not entirely clear to me what type of CEO SadNad is, but he sure isn't a type 2.

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This post has been deleted by its author

TRT
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I think he's a number 2.

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Honestly, I'm having some difficulty thinking of any type 2s at any major tech players right now.Tim Cook is a 1; Hurd'n'Katz are both 1s; Ballmer was a 3, Whitman (and, in fact, just anyone HP's had in the last 20 years) is a 3, Zuck is a 3, Marissa Mayer was a 1, Sundai Pichai is a 1; being a 3 is contractually required just to get a job at Uber...

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@TRT

As opposed to going number 1?

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TRT
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@chivo243

There's probably a mix of number 1 and number 2. He's a cloaca.

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Anonymous Coward

Zuck is a 3

Honestly, I thought Zuck was a 1, and Sheryl Sandberg does what she wants in the company.

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Def
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@Naselus

Musk?

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TRT
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Re: Musk?

The gland or the person?

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Holmes

There are three general breeds of CEOs:

No there are 4 types, the fourth being a puppet.

Satnav Nutella is a puppet, of whom you may ask?

The largest shareholder in MS and who could that person be?

Hmmm.

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Re: @Naselus

Musk might be a 2. Not sure, though; some of his ventures are clearly batshit crazy nonsense. And he does rely pretty heavily on massive subsidies to actually turn a profit. So he might be a very, very good 3.

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Re: There are three general breeds of CEOs:

HAHAHAH Satnav Nutella... I'm stealing that...

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Angel

OpenSource

If you are going to dump it, please first consider Open Sourcing the project so others may maintain it if they so choose. If that would bring undesired competition, then why are you dumping it in the first place? If not, then what's the harm? (possibly shared internal libraries, but I doubt there are many of such really).

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Re: OpenSource

> If not, then what's the harm?

Other companies suing you, because silly patents.

Somebody sues you, because you "borrowed" code.

The world discovering the "quality" of your code base.

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Re: OpenSource

They are not dumping the Groove app. The Groove app will continue to play mp3 and wma files from OneDrive or locally on the machine. What Microsoft gave up was the music subscription service.

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Re: OpenSource

You have really deep pockets, lots of connected people and the drive to do the music biz deals to provide content for it? That was always the problem. Apple being first and Spotify being good at what they do mean they have hoovered up the biggest and best stables of music for you to buy, rent or browse and Microsoft pretty much sucked in comparison.

So unless you can do the deals and provide better legal music you cannot afford to opensource it.

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Devil

Re: OpenSource (@ GrumpenKraut)

"The world discovering the "quality" of your code base."

That boat sailed decades ago!

;^)

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Re: OpenSource

"The Groove app will continue to play wma files"

Who?

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Paris Hilton

Re: OpenSource

Que?

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Re: OpenSource

Grooves product is music and video tracks licensed from record and movie companies. Good luck with outsourcing that.

Any current open source media player is better than or equal to grooves' player.

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Re: OpenSource

Groove had a decent catalouge. Not as many tracks as Spotify but 20% of Spotify's catalouge is click bait and cruft. vis the 10,000 versions of happy birthday by artists such as Elviz Presley etc.

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Facepalm

If it took until now to realize this, you're kind of slow.

Remember PlaysForSure and Gaming for Windows Live?

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Google cancel services all the time. MS cancel one and suddenly the sky is falling?

Get a grip people.

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How many of those cancelled Google services were where you bought something?

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The difference is that whenever Google cancels a service, it offers three to five replacements. Hit me up on Allo if you want more details.

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Unhappy

The difference is that whenever Google cancels a service, it offers three to five replacements.

Still waiting for those three to five replacements for Google Reader over here...

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Hindsight

It would be more helpful to point out this tendency on the service or product's introduction or acquisition rather that in its obituary.

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Microsoft behaves like the kid in the class with ADHD who's forgotten to take his Ritalin.

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The curse of the monopolist

Much of Microsoft's dithering, and inability to make new successes is because of their effective monopoly on OS and office productivity (and to an extent mail). When you are a multi-billion dollar monopoly, senior management can't comprehend a growth product that in two years time would be "only" a $100m dollar operation (even if as an SMB it would be hailed as one of the fastest growing businesses in the land). They'll sniff and say "your margins are pathetic, look at how many bucks per minute of pure earnings that we get from Office". Any small product or service is denied resources (although often getting a full plate of overhead costs), and in their impatience the bigwigs demand unfeasible growth. That leads to over-promise, under-delivery, management shakeups, and fundamental proposition and marketing errors. A lack of real innovation and real entrepreneurial freedoms mean that these monopolist corporations react late to other people's innovation, and all too often launch weak me-too services, usually destined to fail (Google+, for example). All the time, any internal small growth platforms that might have big potential are unfavourably compared with the sexy, exciting world of M&A. So rather than invest in genuinely new areas, or supporting innovative growth, the big money is pissed on aQuantive, Nokia handsets, LinkedIn and so on.

If you look at the near monopolists of tech, they're much in the same boat - Alphabet without Google's search engine is a ramshackle collection of doomed businesses. Amazon without the online tat store is just another bit-barn operator. Microsoft without the enterprise desktop monopoly is nothing.

Actually, it isn't just monopolists - any oligopolistic market features similar crap-head management, hidebound by a sense of incumbency and entitlement, and with a misplaced confidence in their own commercial judgement. If you look at large ERP vendors, UK mobile network operators, or UK energy suppliers, you see the same sort of mindset in most of them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The curse of the monopolist

I agree with this.

Many years ago I worked for BT and was responsible for a project which brought in about £50m per year. The Project Director told me that the customer wanted us to employ another 50 people on the project, at a billable rate of around £220k per employee (they were experienced technical people and we paid them around £50k per year). Only he couldn't, as Head Office had a headcount freeze in place (BT was shedding jobs in unrelated areas at the time).

I was astonished that a company would deliberately damage its own bottom line (and my commission) in this way.

What you have to realise, he said, is that to BT, £50m per year is a rounding error.

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This would be as compared to, oh I don't know, a company like Google?

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Word and Excel get buggier

I find that hard to believe. I used to be obliged to write a lot of 100+ page documents with tables, figures and cross-references and I never found a version of Word that would not randomly corrupt page numbers, headings, ToCs, formatting and cross references.

And the reason for that is largely that Microsoft wanted Word to (a) do everything and (b) be compatible with poorly-designed previous versions. I think it's a good thing that Microsoft have realised that they can't do everything, can't be in every space in the market and can't ignore a growing diversity in the ecosystem. The real problem is that they need to identify things they can do well and do them better whereas they are simply shedding the increasing number of things at which they're failing.

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Devil

Re: Word and Excel get buggier

> ... I never found a version of Word that would not randomly corrupt page numbers, headings, ToCs, formatting and cross references.

Wot? That used to be the bloody rule.

May I add the "document too big" bug that made it impossible to even look at it? I watched a guy splitting his PhD into two pieces, doing ALL numbering (pages, refs, tables, images, bibliography...) by hand. That took the last two weeks before the deadline, two weeks he would have wanted to do far more important work.

I'll add that that was a while ago, and Word likely has gone less bad than just described.

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DJV

"The real problem is that they need to identify things they can do well"

I'm still using a 1999-vintage MS Internet Keyboard Pro and will be very sorry when it finally kicks the bucket. Mind you, I'd be very hard pressed to think of anything else they actually do (or have ever done) that's anywhere near as good as that keyboard!

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Re: "The real problem is that they need to identify things they can do well"

I'd be very hard pressed to think of anything else they actually do (or have ever done) that's anywhere near as good as that keyboard!

I really liked the "Mystify" screensaver from Windows 3.1

I miss Mystify...

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Re: "The real problem is that they need to identify things they can do well"

Curves and Colours, 80 lines, minimum spread, multicolour (Windows 98 version) was my favourite. The XP version had a rubbish selection of colours.

I'm sure these still exist on the net somewhere, but the whole screen saver concept isn't really a thing any more.

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Re: "The real problem is that they need to identify things they can do well"

I miss my Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer 3.0. Five buttons + 1-D scroll wheel (never used the left-right feature of recent mice) and most importantly, WIRED!!!

But apparently those mice weren't sexy enough, remember the Arc mouse?

Wires, those get in the way, why not use buggy proprietary wireless communications? Five buttons, nah, Four buttons is the key (and we'll map that fourth key by default to "Search",because why the f*ck not?)!!! And well-sized to fit the hand? Nope, low-profile is the way to go.

Seriously, those were great mice. I'm using some generic chinese "gaming" mouse now because I need the buttons and the wire. Can't imagine there's much margin in mouse technology these days, so why mess with a sure thing? Corporate incompetence is all I can fiture.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "The real problem is that they need to identify things they can do well"

>I miss my Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer 3.0.

Using a MS trackball optical right now, I've had to replace 2 microswitches in it over time but still the best mouse I've ever owned.

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Pirate

"A reputation for flakiness risks long term damage to Microsoft in the enterprise."

Well, Windows has been various flavors of "flaky" for a good 25 years now, but that didn't seem to hinder BillG from becoming the richest man in the world. Exchange and Outlook have both always been pools of pain for users and admins the world over, but companies continue using them. How many times have Word or Excel taken a crap on their files, but nobody in serious numbers is talking about moving to Lotus or WordPerfect, or even OpenOffice.

Truth is, everybody knows Microsoft's software is complete crap, but it's just barely good enough to usually work, and Microsoft's past heavy-handed monopolistic practices made sure there aren't any serious contenders anymore even if folks DID decide to jump ship. Apple probably should have ascended to the throne - they had the talent, the money, the cachet, and the ambition, but inertia was never in their favor. I've been waiting for Linux to take over the desktop for, oh, 17 years now, and while it has made inroads, it's sadly suffering the same inertia that kept Apple at bay.

Remember - Microsoft=Windows, Microsoft=Office, Microsoft=Windows-Server and now I guess Microsoft=Xbox. Anything outside of those four things (maybe MSSQL Server too) is just a dalliance for MS - Azure, Office365, Windows store - those are all just for the "here and now", and could go "poof" at any moment at the whim of MS.

Just my 2-cents worth. Flakiness is part of the Microsoft landscape.

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"Truth is, everybody knows Microsoft's software is complete crap,"

It's just that it's still mostly way better than the competition....

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Anonymous Coward

Did you ever tried to work with Lotus SmartSuite? I did, suffered a lot... and had no choice but going to Office to have work done. When we switched from Lotus Notes to Exchange/Outlook, you heard sighs of relief.

I used OS/2 also, and it was a dead end because IBM too didn't believe in it. WordPerfect was so busy to protect its DOS cash cow it missed uers quickly moving to Windows.

Even Borland, one of the few companies that could score against MS on its own field, committed suicide when it decided it needed to buy Ashton-Tate while true RDBMS were already replacing dBase & C.

Sad to say, but most of the competition was actually worse than Microsoft - MS did its best to crush them, but they did their best to release more flaky software than MS did.

More or less the same happened among Adobe, Corel, and Micrografx. Adobe was able to move from Mac to Windows and beat both competitors, that spent time finding new ways to annoy users.

Linux desktop suffers from the same problems - many so-so application you can try to replace Windows ones, but you have to accept a lot of compromises and suffer to get professional job done. Unless you want to make a statement, you'll go the easier route.

Thereby Nadella can keep on piling up mistakes, and for a while the ship will keep on staying afloat. But he started to annoy users a lot with Windows 10, and this can be a mistake with far reaching effects - especially if more and more mistakes will be built upon it.

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Venerable AC:

Sad to say, but most of the competition was actually worse than Microsoft - MS did its best to crush them, but they did their best to release more flaky software than MS did.

I hereby invite you to read the anti-trust trial, you will notice that MS did hide core components of their OS to the competition, components that were needed to develop rich ui's is a well -known example. MS also voluntarily caused 3rdparty software to crash, had Windows/DOS spew out "scary warnings" ... you name it ... I do not understand all the hate for Notes, it is way more than an email server, you can use it as an ERP without being a C/ABAP developer ... you could do so much more stuff with Notes in the 90's already that you still cannot do with the Windows/Office/Sharepoint stack today ...

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Anonymous Coward

It is true, but it's also an excuse for many companies that become complacent and were slow to move to Windows and invested too little - Borland had shown it was possible to compete with MS on its own ground - and deliver UIs better than MS ones. Adobe was successful to port its Mac applications to Windows, despite the high graphic requirements.

Take some time, and read the history of WordPerfect, Lotus, Corel, Borland, etc. - lots of executive mistakes that had nothing to do with MS trying to put obstacles on their path. The same obstacles were put under DOS, and still many companies were able to outperform MS - just they become too fearful to invest in keeping the pace with the evolution of hardware and OS.

Again, did you use Lotus, WordPerfect and Corel software? I did, and it was too often less usable - Lotus idea of inventing its own UI under Windows - and a less versatile one - was truly a stupid idea. WordPerfect tried to have the same application under DOS and Windows, another dummy idea.

And all of them were very slow to fix bugs. I spent endless time on the phone with Lotus support to investigate bugs, and they were never fixed.

Notes was an ugly mail client, and its underlying non-relational database was truly a pain to work with. I never understood companies trying to build applications upon it instead of using a true RDBMS and better tools to develop clients.

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