R.I.P Microsoft? Baloney.

Mary Jo Foley pointed out an article that I thought was a little odd to say the least.

"It seems to have become trendy to sound the death knell for Microsoft these days. I guess I'm not quite as much of a purveyor of doom and gloom when it comes to the Redmond software vendor's prospects for the future. That doesn't mean Microsoft doesn't face serious challenges, some of which can be attributed directly to its sound but scary policy of listening to customers. But to claim the smell of rot is in the air (with some pretty flimsy evidence supporting that premise) seems a bit premature to me."

I followed the link to the ABC News story 'R.I.P Microsoft' by Michael Malone, an established tech insustry pundit.

As Mary says, his conclusion that Microsoft is about to die is founded on a few assumptions that I can say with a fair degree of confidence, are utterly wrong.

First, Malone asks:

"The company just announced a powerful new search engine, designed to take on Google -- but did anybody notice? "

Did any one notice? Not only did they notice but they wrote, blogged, analysed, critisised, commended, speculated and ranted about it. Today, at time of writing, nearly 2 weeks after MSN new search officially launched, there are 1,000 articles appearing on MSN news search and 355 articles on Yahoo News relating to MSN Search. Technorati, the blog search engine, is returning 22,000 blog entries. I think it is fair to say the announcement was not ignored.

Another bit of Maloney Baloney:

"Does anyone out there love MSN? I doubt it; it seems to share AOL's fate of being disliked but not hated enough to change your e-mail account. "

Well, there are those who seem to like, if not love some MSN stuff out there. What about James Chan in China, one of the nearly 1 millions MSN Spaces users since launch in late 2004, who says:

"I've been using MSN Spaces for no more than one and a half months but it's long enough to fall in love with it."

or Melissa who writes:

"Thanks for this MSN Spaces. I totally adore this page. Simple, elegant, and easy to use. And it's free.

I can express myself fully on this page and let my friends know more about me. I especially like the "Lists". I can now access to my favourite sites where ever and when ever I have internet access.


What about Shaan Hurley who posts, "Desktop Search Tools - I love MSN Desktop Search!", or the passion of someone who spends their time collecting these MSN Emoticons online, or Louisa875 who says about MSN Messenger:

"I love it, I've got lots of friends on MSN from, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, UK, Netherlands, Italy (when my nephew was on hols) - all for the price of broadband - just think of the phone bill otherwise - heck I wouldn't even know half of these special people without MSN"

Malone then drives his final apparent nail in the coffin:

"And do college kids still dream of going to work at MS? Five years ago it was a source of pride to go to work for the Evil Empire -- now, who cares?

I bump into the interns in the corridors, they tell me they love the opportunity - and they've every right to be proud. But that's not really the point. What does matter (to Microsoft) is how many students are using Microsoft technolgies to create cool stuff. Here's a couple of numbers from Imagine Cup, in 2004:

"More than 10,000 students from 90 countries started out on the road to Imagine Cup 2004 in the past 12 months, competing in a variety of regional, national and online competitions to earn positions in the worldwide finals. Thirteen teams from countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia took the top three places across four invitationals - software design, short film, rendering and algorithm"

Imagine Cup is a competition, no one forced these students to enter.

Of course there is frustration with Microsoft, but to say that our demise is nigh because everybody hates Microsoft or that it is irrelevent is, well, just a little OTT, isn't it?

Update 13 Feb 2005:

Robert Scoble has a great response to Maloney's article,

"He says he smells rot inside Microsoft.

I take this very seriously. Why? Because if you know Michael he's good at smelling out the rot in companies (his article gives several examples).

I'm not going to disagree with him. Why? Because that would prove his thesis correct.

Instead, I invite Michael to come over to Channel 9. See the kinds of things we're doing, or come up to campus. I'd be happy to give him a tour to see the inside of Microsoft and show him why Longhorn went back to the drawing board."

Now, I don't think I am wearing 'rose tints', as suggested in a comment by an anonymous co-worker.

So, just to be clear, I have my reality glasses on...I agree with Robert when he points out:

"Yes, Microsoft faces difficult challenges over the next few years. Apple is firing on all cylinders. Linux continues to come on strong on a variety of fronts. Google is firing on all cylinders. Silicon Valley is rocking again (Yahoo, eBay, Amazon, Cisco, and tons of little companies are hiring). Firefox is getting downloaded in the tens of millions."

And like Robert, have some things about Maloney's article I'd like to refute and this is where my post above is coming from.