Hookers and Skype

I am unapologetically a Microsoft guy. Without them, I’d be unemployable.  Actually without them, there’d be a lot of unemployable people. Without them PC’s wouldn’t have made it onto the desks of billions of people. PC’s wouldn’t have taken such a foothold in people’s lives.  When people check to see which high speed internet service is available before checking on schools, stores or crime rate when they move, you know there’s been a paradigm shift.

I’ve been using the Microsoft stack since MS-DOS.  I’ve used every version of Windows since 3.11 for Workgroups, including the god awful catastrophe which was Windows ME.  But we’ll let that one go, seriously.  It happened. Move on. Accept the things I cannot change…yadda yadda.

If Microsoft did one thing well, besides make money, it was bending over backwards, and doing whatever they could to help developers write code for the Win32 API.

Microsoft knew then that no one is loyal to an operating system; they’re loyal to the applications which run on the operating system. If Angry Birds were written exclusively for one device and one device only – you see my point.

No one rushed to pick up an iPhone because it was running iOS 1.0 – they picked it up because of the form factor and the apps.  (Probably a plethora of other reasons, but for the sake of this post, we’ll go with those two)

What set Microsoft apart from other tech giants was that the CEO was a programmer.  Bill Gates was a developer, a software engineer.  While reading the spec for VBA for Excel he once quipped about possible date math issues. MBA’s don’t go to that level. MBA’s don’t understand software development at that level.

Facebook succeeded not because it was marketed better, it succeeded because Mark Zuckerberg programmed it better than MySpace or Friendster.  Facebook didn’t crash.  Why? Because, again, Mark Zuckerberg wrote better code. This is something the Winklevoss twins have yet to understand.  An idea in and of itself is worthless – the execution of the idea is where the magic is.  Hence why you can’t copyright or trademark an idea.

So back to Microsoft. In 2000 Bill Gates transitioned from the role of CEO and would serve as Chief Software Architect while he made his way toward retirement. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft employee #30 would take over the reins of the company. Steve Ballmer was not a programmer.  Steve Ballmer was a business manager.

Eleven years later.

The Zune – Failed.
Kin – Epic Fail.
Vista – Single handedly responsible for IT managers across the country failing to upgrade from Windows XP to any other operating system and thus keeping IE 6 in the web eco system.
Windows Phone 7 – Great Product.  About three years late to the party.
Internet Explorer – Has lost over half its market share to Chrome and Firefox.

ZDNet has a chart outlining the stark difference between Microsoft’s stock price under Gates and Ballmer.  Take a look.  How is that guy still employed?

What’s the last even remotely innovative thing Microsoft has done?  I love the company and their products and I can’t think of one.  I own an iPad and an iPhone.  I’m getting ready to purchase my first Mac desktop for home.

The Microsoft Courier looked incredibly promising and cool but turned out to be vapor ware.

On a recent phone conversation with a third party vendor discussing iOS development, I mentioned being a .NET/C# guy and while I could build out the RESTful API for the app, I didn’t know Objective-C.  He laughed and said “.NET?  Your kind is still around?”  I don’t expect a guy who deals with iOS development to meet many .NET people, and .NET is a long ways away from going the way of ColdFusion but he has a point.

Microsoft recently purchased Skype.  I don’t use Skype, and I fail to see the relevance it has to Microsoft.  Rumors were that Google wanted Skype.  It’s like Steve Ballmer bought it so no one else could.  Kinda like the kid who spits on his food so no one else will touch it.  Kinda like the kid with Dad’s black Amex throwing caution to the wind and blowing money on Hookers and – well Skype.

Someone stop this man, please.

He spent $8.5 billion on it.  How about spending some of that on your mobile device so that it has copy and paste when it launches?  It’s 2011 not 2007.  You can’t get away with the crap Apple gets away with.  Accept it and move on.

I can only hope that Ballmer’s days are numbered.  But who could replace him?  I’d hoped that Ray Ozzie would but he left Microsoft in 2010.  Ray Ozzie was a total bad ass – in so far as a software architect can be a bad ass. But the guy was brilliant.

In an internal memo in 2005 he wrote regarding Microsoft’s Internet Services “It's clear that if we fail to do so, our business as we know it is at risk ... We must respond quickly and decisively.”

Apparently Steve didn’t get the memo.

Joel Spolsky, he of the Joel On Software blog wrote about how Microsoft had lost the API war due to the fact that the advancement in web technology was shifting peoples focus away even further from the desktop and the Windows operating system.  He wrote that “It (Microsoft) has a long way to fall. It could do everything wrong for a decade before it started to be in remote danger, and you never know... “

That was written in 2004.

Clocks ticking.

For an even more in-depth Microsoft/Ballmer bashing analysis, read Ben Brooks awesome article.


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