[Article] Three Steps to a New, Improved Microsoft!

muzikool

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#1
I've subscribed to PC Magazine for years and will read PC World on occassion. I happened to pick up PC World this month and was pretty surprised by this article by Stephen Manes, PC World Contributing Editor and co-host of the TV show Digital Duo.

I realize that thousands of "Microsoft-bashing" articles exist online and in blogs, but I was surprised to find something so blunt in PC World in print. There's no limit to the amount of content online, but the pages of a magazine are strictly limited, and I'm not sure I've ever seen such a harsh article directed at Microsoft in either magazine. I wonder what Stephen did to get this in the magazine.

Complete Article:
PC World (September 2006) - Three Steps to a New, Improved Microsoft!

On June 15, in case you didn't notice, Microsoft announced that Bill Gates will "transition out of a day-to-day role in the company" in 2008, though he'll remain as chairman. Bill, no one can complain about your new focus on philanthropy, but over the next two years, how about showing your customers a little love?

It'll be easy! Just insist that Microsoft adopt this mantra: "Stop Making Crap." Here's a simple three-step process:

1. Quit kidding yourself. Do some soul-searching and publicly disown the longstanding public-relations fantasy that Microsoft has something to do with "innovation." Your business has always been about taking others' ideas and selling them with a Microsoft badge. Period. After CP/M came DOS; after Mac came Windows; after Palm came Pocket PC; after Netscape came IE. And those are just the most obvious examples.

2. Insist on quality and security. Microsoft ads say "Your potential. Our passion," but the real motto should be "Do the Minimum." Whenever I pick up a Microsoft product, I expect stupid or dysfunctional design. You rarely disappoint me.

Quality? In just the last few weeks, I've encountered a show-stopping defect in ActiveSync, Windows Mobile dialog boxes that are unreadable because nobody redesigned them for the aspect ratio of the Motorola Q phone's screen, and an entire platform--Ultra-Mobile PC--that's one of the worst computing experiences ever, right down to a Tablet PC tutorial no one bothered to update for the new devices. Windows Media-based audio players continually fail to challenge Apple's iPod because Microsoft's software sucks.

Security? A continuing bad joke, right down to the Windows Genuine Advantage antipiracy program that Windows Update dubs a "critical security update." It's critical only to the company's profit margins, by ensuring that users are running a legit version of Windows--except, as sometimes happens, when it's wrong.

Oh, and quit bragging about how many testers you have. It's tiresome and irrelevant when most of them appear to be taking a permanent lunch break. Embrace the idea that quality and security have to be built in, not tested in.

3. Shake up the talent. Nobody in a position of authority at Microsoft ever seems to get fired. Many should be. How many times can a product jettison features and miss deadlines before its handlers get the boot? How many security flaws can pop up before their creators walk the plank?

And if you want to innovate, find innovators. CEO Steve Ballmer is a longtime apologist for whatever Microsoft is doing at the moment. The résumé of new Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie includes the disappointing Windows CE operating system, the voice-recognition-now-and-then-enabled AutoPC, and Web TV, plus the laughable Trustworthy Computing Initiative. New Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie is a smart guy and by all accounts a brilliant programmer, but his crowning achievement to date is Lotus Notes, a product whose user interface is despised by the folks I know who have been forced to use it. Is all the hot blood working on Xbox?

Oh, and after the three-step process, here's step 4: Turn "Stop Making Crap" into "Start Making Wonders." But software has to run, not crash, before it can fly.
 

kcnychief

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#2
Wow, Ouch.

Good read though, I saw that in the same mag the other day which I subscribe to :)
 

lancer

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#3
jeez, i wonder if someone missed that article in the editing room.
 

bush dogg

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#4
Somebody’s Pissed…I would like to have been a fly on the wall when this person had the problems that prompted this article “I bet that was a funny site”. :laugh:
 

X-Istence

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#5
About goddamn time that magazines publish the truth. Yes it is harsh, but it might actually do Microsoft some good. If Apple comes out with something that is not working properly the bad press is much higher than for Microsoft.

I do tend to agree with what was stated in the article, and fully support the fact that it was published in a PC magazine that professionals read. I just wish sites like Mini MSFT got more press as well.

Microsoft could be a lean mean fighting machine (that rhymes), however to date they have not shown they are willing to change and accept that.

As for the harshness and what he had to do to get it into the magazine? First off, i'd say write it. And that article definitely was checked by an editor. Every PC Magazine every so often needs a SHOCK article to get more attention. Did it grab your attention? Yes, then the article has achieved it's intended audience.

Me personally am surprised thinking about it now, the years I have been subscribed to tons of magazines have indeed never seen such an article. However when we go over to the competition, Apple, there are tons of really bad articles, especially when Apple does something wrong, or an update does not work as intended. I think bad press is good for a company, and that a company should listen to complaints to then make their software even better.
 

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