Billing the Cat: A Busted Business Model

In the commentary I have received to date on the Grand Deception:the Accomplices – most have been centered on “Not Us” or “you pathetic Microsoft hater … you dont know whats good …”. It is the latter point I would like to beg to differ on. If readers care to take a look at the following stories:
Review: SQL Server 2005 Builds Its Place In BI
MsAcrylic – Microsoft finally gets Graphics seriously right
Windows Presentation Foundation – a new direction ?

Each of these stories was written in the past 6 months and highlights new Microsoft technology. Some express skepticism as to how open and interoperable they will be – but do not close the door. But all give credit where credit is due – citing excellence and innovation in design and delivery as appropriate.

In fact, I get the impression talking to Microsoft people and other analysts that Redmond is just brimming over with great stuff that just is not seeing the light of day because it does not fit in Microsofts Busted Business Model. You know the one. It must run best in Windows. Windows is the only platform we develop for because frankly we think it makes our job easier (it does) and is the best in the marketplace by far(beg to differ). Windows Uber Alles (sorry, this may seem to be hyperbole, but only slightly, especially when talking to Microsoft top executives) is a Busted Business Model. Here is why.

Windows Uber Alles presumes that Windows is better than any other OS out there and therefore deserves 90%++ market share on both the client and the server. The reality is that on the client Microsoft has had close to 20 years to get it right – and is still missing bigtime on reliability, security, efficiency (Vista is going to be a resource pig) and deliberately on interoperability. Likewise on the Windows Server, areas such as reliability, scalability, manageability and security have been persistently problematic – improving in fits and starts, but having to adopt to a constantly changing game plan. Linux with 70% of Web servers and Solaris with 3 million downloads are real players as are a number of other specialty server operating systems. Remember targetted functionality and utility is tremendously more valuable to the server customer – it runs the business.


Windows Uber Alles does not give credit where credit is due
. When you are expected to take 90%++ market share in every market, even product managers and Microsoft developers cannot afford to compliment or credit non-Microsoft software. Look at the Wormtongued Get the Facts on Linux campaign. Carefully constructed case studies that are often laughable propaganda pieces -ugghly. But also the distortion of evalutions of the worth of other software has to inevitably slip into planning and direction. LAMP has been seriously underestimated. The quickness and pervasiveness and simple opportunity of embedded devices like iPod and PDAs have been missed. More often than not – Microsoft is caught playing catch up – look at SaaS and the late and just Live response.

Windows Uber Alles forces a fit that may not be there. Take the move to the Web. There are advantages to the Windows Smart Client, particularly in offline settings. But then forcing those offlines – to lead the show online does not make sense. And the campaign to deliberately tilt the playing field against Web approaches as has been done for the past 9 years with polluting and stalling of Web standards , this has isolated the company and given solid ammunition for change. Also consider iPod. Because Windows Uber Alles means “bring a whole basic Windows working set” to every embedded or online situation, simple solutions may simply get rejected. In contrast look at Apple and the iPod. Or take the Google approach – simple, minimalist interface where appropriate. Now this KISS approach has missed sometimes as Yahoo has beaten Google Image and Picasa with an AJAX-ian rich Web photo album environ in Flickr, but there are counter-examples with Google Maps and Google Local. Note I did not mention any MSN or Microsoft vehicle in these emerging SaaS areas.

Windows Uber Alles discounts interoperability. Microsft has taken the approach if users want interoperability let third parties provide it. Only when market leading vendors like Oracle, SAP, or IBM are involved might Redmond relent. In the coming decade when process and data integration and interoperability are paramount – this is a clearly losing strategy. It is obvious on the Web that Microsoft is the number one obstacle to open standards and interoperability. In the mobile and database/app server arenas Redmond appears determined to build a similar reputation. This is the most damaging and damning part of Redmonds Busted Business Model.

Windows Uber Alles allows Redmond to hold on to the 90% market share idea – that running a zero sum game works. It obviously has for 20 years with a little help from friends. But 90% share also precludes lasting partnerships and co-operation. Sure when Redmond is entering a market, Microsofties can be “open the kimono” and share the insights or lets market this co-operatively. But as a developer once said “when the market gets big or Redmonds share gets past 30% – watch your back”. In an industry with constantly changing technology, strengths, and economic drivers – alienating all the players by playing a nasty zero sum game is counter-productive in the long term. Vista may be the point of inflection. There have been a lot of partners, VARs and ISVs that have been burned by Microsoft, they may be less than enthusiastic and choose to defer on some of the latest rounds of Redmonds Calls for Action.

In sum, Microsofts Busted Business Model says as long as we maintain our 90%++ monopolies, we as leaders can afford to be dictatorial to partners, players and customers alike, as we deem appropriate. Its an imperial notion that resonates with some – the next two years of Vista, Live and .NET will tell how big that “some” is . It is remarkable, Bill has become as “admired” as IBM was 25 years ago when he was starting up. It will be interesting to see if “Do no evil” Google can avoid a similar fate.

(c)JBSurveyer 2006

The previously used comments redirection proved just as susceptible to spammers and flamers and reasoned commenters as opening up comments directly, so we will open comments directly until it gets out of hand.