The Idea Dude


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Between a rock and a hard place

The story of the day today on the Net is about disgruntled Microsoft employees demanding the revamp of management following the delay of the forthcoming Vista OS. I can empathize with their frustrations having been in the trenches. I used to believe as the guy who wrote the software, I could single-handedly change the fortunes (and the stock price) of the company. Alas, time and ill-spent money proved me wrong and I learnt there are many a slip between code and stock price. I'm sure Gates and co. did not make the decision lightly. I remember the anger I felt after working 70-100 hour weeks for months on end to meet deadlines and then having to swallow the bitter delay because QA had found parts of the product unstable. Before letting our emotions make our decisions, we need to coldly determine what is the right thing to do and make the final call regardless how painful. Those employees who call for an early release would rue the day if they did indeed release on time resulting in a product that tanks and along with it the stock price.

The delay and emotions are not the issue. Vista is simply the last straw that is breaking the camel's back. Microsoft, I suspect, is undergoing the same tribulations that most other large technology behemoths experience at some point. Their success is now becoming their millstone. Their size and momentum may ultimately be their downfall, unless like IBM, they find the courage to reinvent themselves, a process that is painful and costly but nevertheless necessary for their survival. They see Google, so much like themselves 20 years ago, young, fearless, challenging and agile. Today the tables are turned, and it's not much fun being on the other end of the stick. Let's see how this will play out...

As Agent Smith, Neo's nemesis would aptly put it, "Do you hear that, Mr Gates? It is the sound of inevitability"


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