Last week I spent time talking to a lot of different technology people, from all over the world geographically and organizationally and culturally. The conversation kept looping back to Microsoft, and to the same sentiment: They’ve lost their mojo. Lots of people will end up using Vista, but does anyone care? The Microsoft execs look haggard and joyless, and half the interviews feel phoned-in. There’s real innovation in the Office UI, and everyone says “But it’s OK, the old keyboard shortcuts still work”. The advertising campaign is vapid and lame, but then that’s nothing new; they haven’t run an effective one in years. I’m sure that Microsoft can come back, the way IBM did after their bad patch last century; maybe the energy is building in a building in Redmond where nobody’s looking. I’ve never liked Microsoft, but now I realize how much energy they used to inject into the ecosystem, because it’s not there any more and I miss it.



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From: Christopher Mahan (Feb 12 2007, at 01:31)

Geese.

Meaning, you can't always be in front, or you'll get too tired to continue.

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From: GoSUNW (Feb 12 2007, at 04:52)

You can replace MS w/ Sun and the entry would still sound the same.

"Microsoft can come back, the way IBM did after their bad patch last century" And maybe SUN can too...? Here's hoping the SUNW price gets into double digits soon.

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From: Devon Young (Feb 12 2007, at 06:42)

I've decided my next computer will be a Mac. I'd go with Linux, but my current ISP won't support or allow it. Either way, there's certain things about Vista that just doesn't seem worth it for me.

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From: MTS (Feb 12 2007, at 10:45)

Microsoft's Mojo - sound liken an oxymoron :-) but I'm starting to disagree with the suggestion that nobody will really care about Vista. All my tech-savvy friends can't find much good to say about Vista but I'm surprised by how many other folks I know who can't wait to get Vista based on what they've seen in store demos or on the web. I'm guessing most have been stuck in NT/XP/ME/98 for way too long and anything MAC like will be greeted with great enthusiasm. Maybe Microsoft doesn't/will not inject energy into the ecosystem, but Vista will spur other innovators to do so and that ain't all too bad.

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From: Michael Bernstein (Feb 12 2007, at 11:54)

Seems to me there is plenty of energy in the ecosystem, it's just not coming from Microsoft. Another way of putting it is that no-one is starting Desktop ISVs anymore, because it has become clear MS just won't let you win at that game.

Further, some of the folks who did try getting into the Vista game early were banking on WinFS and similar infrastructure, and then got burned hard. What's left in Vista that an ISV can use to create new value over an XP version? Not 'shorter development time', or 'prettier UI', or anything else that all developers get, so to speak, but a platform for creating genuinely new and unique value? there just isn't anything, it's all 'more of the same, only better'.

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From: Mike Kozlowski (Feb 12 2007, at 11:55)

I think you're over-reading this. There's little interest in Vista because a) XP is plenty good enough that most people don't feel like they have a compelling reason to upgrade, but more importantly b) it's an operating system, and most people really don't care about operating systems. You may recall that there was a similar lack of interest in XP, even though it was really good, and vastly superior to the hideously repellent Windows ME. The last OS upgrade that anyone got really excited about was Windows 95, which was Microsoft's OS X moment, when they jumped from the 16-bit cooperatively-multitasked past into the future.

As for marketing, well, name a good Microsoft ad campaign in the history of ever (excepting, of course, this Windows/386 ad, which is composed of a potent combination of illegal drugs and raw awesome: http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/software/the-most-ridiculous-windows-video-ever-234831.php )

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From: Joe Duck (Feb 12 2007, at 14:49)

Tim a thoughtful insight here, and one can only hope that enough MSmojo returns to keep them innovating, or at least pressure Yahoo and Google and others to keep on top of their game.

I'd suggest that MS simply is not a company built for the internet era, where Google and Yahoo are such companies. MS should aquire Yahoo while they have the chance/cash, and then put their brilliant LIVE team under Yahoo's expert guidance. There'd be some cultural clashes at first but this combination would intimidate even the seemingly unstoppable Google juggernaut and would lead to great innovation all around.

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From: Arnold (Feb 12 2007, at 20:50)

Well, Mr. Bray, it seems you have missed the announcement last week by Microsoft in which they are embracing Open ID 2.0 to work with CardSpace in Vista (yes, they need a reason to sell Vista but more important was the sense of humbleness I noticed with Gates and Mundie made the announcement at the RSA conference in Sun's own back yard of San Francisco). Tsk Tsk. Both Passport and Liberty Alliance have failed. But its hard to beat open standards with a really serious Foundation (the Open ID Foundation). Oh yes, speaking of Foundations, Sun reneged long ago on its once promise to create a Foundation for Open Office because McNealy and his stupid lawyers were too arrogant and insidious.

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From: Assen (Feb 15 2007, at 08:40)

There's one building in the Microsoft campus where the mojo is still sizzling: Xbox. Developers love them, gamers buy more games for their Xbox 360s than for any other console in history, and they're well on their way to netscaping Sony, the undisputed king of the industry for 12 years.

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February 11, 2007
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