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Hit the road, Jack, er, Steve...

J. Kevin Robbins
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Joined: Dec 16, 2010
Posts: 1003
    
  13

So now that Steve Ballmer is being shown to the door (I don't believe for one moment that this was voluntary), do you think it's too late to save Microsoft or is there hope for them to become relevant again? Wall Street seems to think there is hope since MS stock shot up about 8% on the announcement.

Microsoft hasn't actually innovated anything in decades (arguably, ever) and I see little chance that they ever will. They are even losing ground on their last cash cow, Office. Google is poised to take over that market share too. So what will become of Microsoft in the next 5 years or so?


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Deepak Bala
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Joined: Feb 24, 2006
Posts: 6662
    
    5

MS stock shot up about 8% on the announcement


You can understand why. He is remembered for laughing off the iPhone and other errors in judgement. To err is human but when you react like that and the iPhone becomes a major success, people cant help but point back to it.

So what will become of Microsoft in the next 5 years or so?


Its hard to say but they do seem to be on a slippery slope. Their strategy is weak on so many lines. They are losing out on office; The Xbox one had a disastrous release on demo; Win 8 / RT is not everyone's cup of tea; The desktop is rapidly losing market share.


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J. Kevin Robbins
Bartender

Joined: Dec 16, 2010
Posts: 1003
    
  13

The iPhone is not only a success, iPhone sales alone total more than all of Microsofts revenue.

Ballmer is also blamed for creating a toxic culture at MS with what is known as "stack ranking". If you have 10 direct reports that are all exceptional, too bad. The manager must give 2 of them unsatisfactory ratings. The results were disastrous.

And then there is Vista. At least Ballmer has the good grace to admit that it was his biggest mistake and he at least took partial blame for it. Anyone else with his lack of vision and poor management skills would have been gone a long time ago, but he is Bill's buddy.
Deepak Bala
Bartender

Joined: Feb 24, 2006
Posts: 6662
    
    5

Ballmer is also blamed for creating a toxic culture at MS with what is known as "stack ranking"


I would not single out MS although they made the same mistake. I detest the bell curve with a passion. Its like admitting that a company willingly hired mediocre people and put them into the team just so they could fit a bell curve.

And then there is Vista


Ah yes. Vista was so scary I decided to never even try it.
Jayesh A Lalwani
Bartender

Joined: Jan 17, 2008
Posts: 2413
    
  28

MIcrosoft has one big thing that no one has. It makes a product that is used by almost all business users that deal with data, is verstaile enough to act as a a) rudimentary database, b) rudimentary reporting tool c) rudimentary analytical tool. That product is Excel. The problem is that it's just so rudimentary. It's so flexible that in the world of BI, Business users almost always make the mistake of thinking that Excel can meet their requirements. They build it in Excel, then find out Excel doesn't scale up, and then they find a software development company to build the application that replicates whatever they have already built in Excel on a massive scale. Excel has essentially become a de facto BI prototyping tool.

If only MS would make Excel scalable by hooking up to the cloud, it has the potential of driving everyone out of business. It would be like an nuclear bomb in the world of BI. Really, if Excel could handle petrabytes of data, who needs software developers? Power users would just use Excel for everything. If you can bring that power into hand held devices, it would kill IPhone and Android for business users. Imagine being able to build an Excel sheet on the train ride to work, hit compute as soon as you get off, walk into work, and by the time you reach your desk, 300 machines have run your Excel formulas and created a report for you. *KABOOM*

I'm pretty sure if MS can get it's head out off it's behind and stop adding more shit to Excel that no one needs, and instead focus on making it an extremely powerful BI tool, Google is going to do it. It's nipping at Office's heels.
Deepak Bala
Bartender

Joined: Feb 24, 2006
Posts: 6662
    
    5

They build it in Excel, then find out Excel doesn't scale up


I'm not convinced. Usually when such reports need to scale out there is a need to use a reporting solution like BIRT / JASPER and convert the data into meaningful numbers and visual representation. The process of converting this into meaningful data along with the scale is what drives people to move out of excel and hire developers to handle it. If warehouses are involved, BI becomes even more technical. Besides companies will think twice before they move their data to the cloud. Who owns this data ? Will MS have to comply with court orders to let investigators peek into private data ? Suddenly that reporting solution which was private is now not so private.

Google already has a similar data cleansing service, although I'm not sure if it reports anything (cannot recall the name). MS is being outplayed in so many areas. I cannot remember the last time I used Excel. I use Google spreadsheets.
Paul Anilprem
Enthuware Software Support
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 23, 2000
Posts: 3315
    
    8
Jayesh A Lalwani wrote: It's so flexible that in the world of BI, Business users almost always make the mistake of thinking that Excel can meet their requirements. They build it in Excel, then find out Excel doesn't scale up, and then they find a software development company to build the application that replicates whatever they have already built in Excel on a massive scale. Excel has essentially become a de facto BI prototyping tool.

This is so very true. I have worked on several such projects. I have seen small prototype excel sheets grow into huge applications by themselves that require a few people to maintain.

Jayesh A Lalwani wrote:
If only MS would make Excel scalable by hooking up to the cloud, it has the potential of driving everyone out of business. It would be like an nuclear bomb in the world of BI. Really, if Excel could handle petrabytes of data, who needs software developers? Power users would just use Excel for everything. If you can bring that power into hand held devices, it would kill IPhone and Android for business users. Imagine being able to build an Excel sheet on the train ride to work, hit compute as soon as you get off, walk into work, and by the time you reach your desk, 300 machines have run your Excel formulas and created a report for you. *KABOOM*

I'm pretty sure if MS can get it's head out off it's behind and stop adding more shit to Excel that no one needs, and instead focus on making it an extremely powerful BI tool, Google is going to do it. It's nipping at Office's heels.


Sounds logical. But may be it is not that easy to do and that is why no one is able to do it as yet.


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Paul Anilprem
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Joined: Sep 23, 2000
Posts: 3315
    
    8
Deepak Bala wrote:Besides companies will think twice before they move their data to the cloud. Who owns this data ? Will MS have to comply with court orders to let investigators peek into private data ? Suddenly that reporting solution which was private is now not so private.
.


They could have a "Excel Server" kind of a thing that a company can install in its own datacenter.
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal

Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 61447
    
  67

Despite its entrenchment in business, Microsoft is in a death spiral. Can it recover? Sure. Apple was in a death spiral too back in the late 90's -- today, not so much.

Much depends on who succeeds monkey boyBallmer, and where he or she can take Microsoft.



Though it's hard to imagine anyone pulling a "Steve Jobs" with Microsoft, it's not impossible.

Many are predicting that the only way to save it, or portions thereof, is to break it up into Xbox-soft, Windows-soft, Office-soft, and so on. Not so sure that'd work.

Me, I'd focus on catering to the business side of things where penetration is still deep, and cede the consumer space (except XBox) to companies that are doing it better. But I'm a business moron so the board is unlikely to ask my opinion.


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Martin Vajsar
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 22, 2010
Posts: 3610
    
  60

If only each new version of Office wasn't worse than the previous one. We're using Word in my job, and we'd switch to practically anything else long time ago, if we didn't have so many Word documents with formulas created using the Equation editor, which would all have to be recreated somehow. But MS will one day release a completely unusable version of Word (which we'll be bound by the licence to install and use), and on that day we'll switch.

I sometimes think Excel is made by a different company entirely. The comparison with Word is striking. There are practically no bugs that would affect our day-to-day use of Excel (except the ribbons. I'd classify ribbons as a bug, but MS markets it as a "feature" ). But this was always so, for fifteen years at least. I often wonder how is that possible. Is the Excel team isolated from the rest of the company? Was the ancient codebase so good that the quality makes it still distinct, after that many years?
Ulf Dittmer
Marshal

Joined: Mar 22, 2005
Posts: 42355
    
  64
Excel existed first on the Mac, and was later ported to Windows. No doubt that legacy has something to do with it :-)


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Winston Gutkowski
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Joined: Mar 17, 2011
Posts: 8041
    
  22

J. Kevin Robbins wrote:So what will become of Microsoft in the next 5 years or so?

Well, my view - and the view of my ex-boss, who is much more "up" on these things than me - is that people (particularly professional people) are simply getting browned off with MS.

Despite the fact that they've had a 30-year run with a virtual monopoly on the desktop, they STILL can't write an OS that doesn't crash (there may not be a BSOD these days, but a crash is a crash), or require a bloody power cycle for virtually every stupid little thing you change.

Take me: I was a Unix/Linux admin for 15 years, but still felt that I need the "security blanket" of ONE Windows system, despite all its shortcomings. And for that, I was willing to put up with my machine taking about 9 minutes to boot up properly.

Thankfully, I have lots (about 5Tb) of external disks and am pretty good about backing up, so when Vista finally died on me about three weeks ago (after 7 years, it has to be said), and I couldn't even get it back with a system restore, I decided to take the leap and install Linux Mint.

Now? It's like having a new system. It's stable; it boots in 90 seconds and shuts down in about 20 (cf. 3 minutes on Vista); and TBH it doesn't really look that different. Firefox works better, Eclipse works MUCH better, and LibreOffice is pretty much like OO, which I was using anyway, because I didn't fancy paying MS scads of money to use their brittle, proprietary product.

And I don't have to worry about virus checkers, or de-fragging, or registry clearing, or those interminable bloody upgrades...the darn thing just WORKS.

So, coming back to your question: Unless MS pull their finger out; nothing good.

Winston

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Jayesh A Lalwani
Bartender

Joined: Jan 17, 2008
Posts: 2413
    
  28

Microsoft bought Nokia, and they are saying Nokia's CEO (who is an Microsoft ex-employee) might be replacing Ballmer. Does that mean that Microsoft might be moving towards becoming a cell phone company? Desktops are giving way to handheld devices anyways. Maybe they see handhelds as the future, and will eventually exit the desktop OS market (or atleast rely on it less). Plus they have XBox that is a big player in console market.
Ulf Dittmer
Marshal

Joined: Mar 22, 2005
Posts: 42355
    
  64
I don't think Elop will replace Ballmer. He left Microsoft, and then didn't succeed at Nokia - that's hardly what Microsoft's board will be looking for in a new CEO.
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18914
    
  40

Deepak Bala wrote:
Ballmer is also blamed for creating a toxic culture at MS with what is known as "stack ranking"


I would not single out MS although they made the same mistake. I detest the bell curve with a passion. Its like admitting that a company willingly hired mediocre people and put them into the team just so they could fit a bell curve.


That was the system used at Sun Microsystems too. And the brain drain was horrible. This technique only works when there is fat to cut, when you start cutting meat and bone, you start losing Intellectual Property (and the ability to innovate). Also, the top innovators left too -- as they have options, and didn't have to tolerate being subjected to the ranking system every quarter (even though they come out on top).

Henry


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Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Paul Anilprem wrote: I have seen small prototype excel sheets grow into huge applications by themselves that require a few people to maintain.

Nearly everyone knows of similar problems. When I worked at Fannie Mae, they had a widely published $900 million accounting problem. What was not widely published was that the problem was that critical data was kept in Excel, and the manager added a row and did not extend the sums to include it.

A smart friend of mine said sometime last century: Complex Excel spreadsheets are the legacy systems of the future. Just like the huge number of COBOL accounting systems that can't deal with the year 2000.

Pat Farrell
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Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Henry Wong wrote:That [stack ranking] was the system used at Sun Microsystems too. And the brain drain was horrible. This technique only works when there is fat to cut


When a company is starting, you can only afford the smartest, best, most productive people. Its very hard to recruit them, but its critical. As you grow, you have to lower your standards. (well, maybe Google kept them up). On startup that I worked at had a standard form for the results of a recruiting interview, it said "will hiring this person increase the average IQ of the company?" and if the answer was no, they prospect was not hired. It can't work with more than 50 or so employees.

You end up with a bell curve of talent, some people are better than others. The problem is not that there exists a bell curve, but rather that that metric being plotted is wrong. If you define your bell curve by IQ, and you need people who can get along with each other and communicate with your customers, you are measuring the wrong thing.
Amit Ghorpade
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Joined: Jun 06, 2007
Posts: 2716
    
    6

But I don't understand why everyone is so keen on fitting bell curves (or any curves for that matter).
I am not good at statistics and distribution but I have seen that its always unfair to keep someone out only because the curve was not fitting him/her.


P.S This is off topic, but its MD anyway.


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Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
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Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 61447
    
  67

I believe that the clueless thinking is that "if everyone has to complete, everyone will work harder". Of course, what everyone works harder at is stabbing each other in the back.

I have long asserted that the larger an organization becomes, the collective IQ drops along an exponential curve.
Jayesh A Lalwani
Bartender

Joined: Jan 17, 2008
Posts: 2413
    
  28

I have heard stories about companies where star players will refuse to work with each other. If each team is being graded on a bell curve, going to a team full of really smart people means that you might be lower on the curve, whereas if you are in a team of mediocre people, you might be at the top. The company is actually giving smart people an incentive to go work with stupid people.
Scott Halepaska
Greenhorn

Joined: Dec 26, 2006
Posts: 27
Sad to see how MS used to function:

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/TwoStories.html

I would have loved a shot to work at a place like that where the guy that did the job had all the power.
Winston Gutkowski
Bartender

Joined: Mar 17, 2011
Posts: 8041
    
  22

Scott Halepaska wrote:Sad to see how MS used to function:
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/TwoStories.html

Neat. I used to live in Vancouver, BC, and I'd actually heard that MS was a great place to work (Redmond's not too far away). Pity they couldn't translate all that management nous into a decent OS.

I also find it strangely at odds with their customer face, which seems incredibly paternalistic: Oh, you don't need to know what we're doing to your system behind the scenes, but if you're really interested, we have this MS course to make you a certified Registry Cleanup Invesitgator for a mere 4,000 dollars. Oh, and you don't want to know about batch functions for Office documents; but if you really need it, we'll be happy to sell you something for 12 grand (true story; and that was just for an entry-level system, and after that there were per document costs too - I ended up doing it perfectly in OpenOffice, and we ditched MS Office the day it went live).

Oracle are just as bad, mind you. Probably something about arrogance being proportional to size.

Winston
Maneesh Godbole
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Joined: Jul 26, 2007
Posts: 10486
    
    9

Word on the streets is that the first phone model manufactured after Microsoft taking over Nokia is going to be named....Microphone


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Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18914
    
  40

Pat Farrell wrote:
You end up with a bell curve of talent, some people are better than others. The problem is not that there exists a bell curve, but rather that that metric being plotted is wrong. If you define your bell curve by IQ, and you need people who can get along with each other and communicate with your customers, you are measuring the wrong thing.


In my opinion, it didn't matter what metric was used. At Sun, it was corporate policy. They did this every quarter for years -- from sometime in 2000 to when I left in 2003. I wouldn't be surprised if they kept doing it afterwards. When people are getting laid-off quarter after quarter for many years, it is kinda hard to not be distracted -- worrying about what to do next quarter, or what jobs to interview for in other companies. I have even heard it compared to a death march. It didn't matter if you are the top of the bell curve, no-one wants to be on this march.

Oh well, at least Microsoft was strong enough to survive this really bad policy. Obviously, many companies did not.

Henry
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal

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  67

Henry Wong wrote:Oh well, at least Microsoft was strong enough to survive this really bad policy.

Remains to be seen.
Ernest Friedman-Hill
author and iconoclast
Marshal

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Posts: 24187
    
  34

The suggestion about putting Nokia's CEO in charge of Microsoft gave me a chuckle. Can you imagine a bold new OS named Qindows that combined the solid foundation of the Windows kernel with the elegance and interoperability of Qt ? It would be... well, it would not be good.


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Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Henry Wong wrote:Oh well, at least Microsoft was strong enough to survive this really bad policy. Obviously, many companies did not.

There was a time when Sun was amazingly strong.
ragu krishna
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 08, 2013
Posts: 5
Winston Gutkowski wrote:
And I don't have to worry about virus checkers


I bored of this(virus is up towards microsoft OS) . I understand your stomuch fire . but that's not true ... Microsoft is still dominating unix-free softwares/os.
virus attack is marketing terms for others.


ragu krishna
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 08, 2013
Posts: 5
Ernest Friedman-Hill wrote:The suggestion about putting Nokia's CEO in charge of Microsoft gave me a chuckle.


I know you are good at chuckle . what is there to do ? ;-)
 
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