Dick Brass, a Vice President at Microsoft from 1997 to 2004, wrote an article in The New York Times in which he speaks out against what he calls "Creative Destruction" in Microsoft. In the article, he discussed why Microsoft is no longer the company leading the technology revolution that it was some years ago.
Although Microsoft made huge profits of $6.7 billion for the past quarter, Brass says that Microsoft, America’s most famous and prosperous technology company, no longer brings us the "future". By this he is refering to Microsoft's utter failure to produce new "innovations" while competitions keep rolling out products like Apple's iPad, e-books like Amazon’s Kindle, smartphones like the BlackBerry and iPhone, search engines like Google, digital music systems like iPod and iTunes or popular Web services like Facebook and Twitter.
He accused Microsoft of becoming a clumsy, uncompetitive innovator. While competitor Apple continues to gain market share in many products, Microsoft has lost share in Web browsers, smartphones etc. Brass said Microsoft's profit is solely due to its Windows Operating System and its Office Software Suite, both of which started out decades ago.
Brass also said that Microsoft is loosing its reoutation as the cool or cutting-edge place to work. As a result there has been a steady exit of its best and brightest engineers.
Brass says that this decline in the software giant is because Microsoft never developed a system that fosters innovations. Rather, a system that thwarts innovations came into existence. He attribute this to different groups in Microsoft feeling threatened by the success of another group. As an example he cited an example:
When we were building the tablet PC in 2001, the vice president in charge of Office at the time decided he didn’t like the concept. The tablet required a stylus, and he much preferred keyboards to pens and thought our efforts doomed. To guarantee they were, he refused to modify the popular Office applications to work properly with the tablet. So if you wanted to enter a number into a spreadsheet or correct a word in an e-mail message, you had to write it in a special pop-up box, which then transferred the information to Office. Annoying, clumsy and slow.
So once again, even though our tablet had the enthusiastic support of top management and had cost hundreds of millions to develop, it was essentially allowed to be sabotaged. To this day, you still can’t use Office directly on a Tablet PC. And despite the certainty that an Apple tablet was coming this year, the tablet group at Microsoft was eliminated.
You can read Dick Brass's full article here.