The Old Microsoft Internet Head Fake?

OSNews reports Gates Says Services are the Future for Computers — and Microsoft. “Company makes plans to move away from prepackaged software and into web-based applications. As the Internet transforms the way people use computers, Microsoft founder Bill Gates has a message for the world’s biggest software maker: adapt or die. “We must act quickly and decisively,” Gates wrote in an Oct. 30 memo to Microsoft executives. “The next sea change is upon us.” More at DetNews.”

So, the Microsoft Roadmap bangs a left, taking Microsoft up on two wheels and tossing out Microsoft “partners” who were along for the ride but had invested their futures in rich client-side applications. How many times can Microsoft do that before people catch on? A redundant question, surely. In a recent ProFox mailing list post I wrote:

In the late 80s, I sat in a room back at the Park Plaza
Hotel in Boston while Microsoft announced the rollout of the NT
platform. During the Q&A session, a fellow came up to the microphone
and explained that he was a Microsoft “partner,” had subscribed to
their products and had spent years with a staff of programmers
developing an app not far from release, but targetted at OS/2. What,
he asked, was Microsoft going to do for him? His voice was unsteady,
and it was apparent that he was facing a disasterous failure. There
was an awkward silence when he finished as the crowd fell silent.
There was no noise but an occasional clink of crystal against
silverware. A Microsoftie finally managed to speak up, trying to
deflect the comment into a pitch for their new development tools. The
spell ended, but the impression remains to this day.

I can’t lead another client down that path.

You know, these articles are so tired. A writer has nothing better to do that to trot out the tired history of DOS, Windows, Microsoft discovering the internet a few years too late and making a big deal of the latest announcement, whether it is Live or MSN or SQL Server 2005 or “Information At Your Fingertips” and making it the next Microsoft-bet-the-farm story. There’s so little new information (“news”) in the article: old news: Microsoft revenue growth is coasting to a stop, products are shipping slower and slower, diversification and lack of direction are confused. New news: Microsoft releases a BillG memo from five months ago.

It’s Microsoft PR. Bill wrote a memo in October they’ve decided to release now. As Matt Rosoff, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, says at the end of the story, “There’s a bit of misdirection going on here.” I think the question is how customers will read this. Will they see “Microsoft is on to a new paradigm — I’ve got to jump onboard to get the early adopter advantage” or will it be “There goes Microsoft, thrashing about again — DotNet has almost gotten stable and they’re off on another wild goose chase.” Time will tell, but I’m hearing more and more from the later camp.

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This work by Ted Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.