James O'Neill's Blog

June 26, 2006

10 worst and 10 best of Microsoft

Filed under: General musings — jamesone111 @ 3:00 pm

Over at Microsoft-watch, Mary-Jo Foley gives her list of Microsoft’s top 10 flops, and I have to disagree with a few of them :
Tablet PC/Pen Computing/eBooks: Too soon to say this is flop. Putting tablet functions into all the builds of Vista means that we don’t have a different OS for the tablet, which has hindered take-up so far.
Live Meeting web conferencing software: Views are mixed. I took to it straight away, and what I know of the next version says in the long run this will be a success.
Microsoft TV. I’ve got this in “long term success” column too – though the reasons why will have to stay confidential.
No Microsoft Linux!: I love to quote Robert Townsend’s Up the organization he says “To increase our share of the market a few years ago, I was on the verge of approving the start-up of a new subsidiary—which would compete with our bread-and-butter business—at discount prices. To verify my own brilliance I tried the idea out on a tall, rangy regional vice-president named Stepnowski. After hearing the plans described in some detail, he sank the whole project with one sentence: “I don’t know what you call it, but we Polacks call that ‘pissing in the soup’ “ enough said.

So I’ve thrown out 4 of Mary Jo’s 10. What would I put in their place ?

  1. OS/2. If DOS 4 was a lesson in not getting involved with other people’s code, the OS/2 was a whole course. A 286 operating system in a world aching to go 32bit, and a host of other sins.

  2. Java. Easy to say with hindsight, but another lesson in not getting involved with other peoples code

  3. MCIS – the Microsoft commercial internet system. Briefly, I worked on replacing MCIS mail with Exchange. One of the guys behind MCIS told me Steve Ballmer asked what we should about it, his reply, “You need to fire me, and tell customers we’re really, really sorry”.

  4. Now I’m struggling. Bob ? Mary Jo had that, DOS4 and Windows ME as well…

 That was why I asked Eileen and the others at the roadshow for their thoughts about unsuccessful products. That and a post about Microsoft’s best introductions, by Steve Clayton – also inspired by Mary-Jo Foley, led Eileen to post her top 10. I thought I’d join them so here, in no special order are 10 things I wouldn’t be without;

  1. Halo. Halo 2 was the most successful entertainment launch in history – doing more business than any other game, music recording or movie. The original Halo still stands as truly great achievement.

  2. Smartphone / Mailbox on the move got to agree with Steve and Eileen here. It’s my GPS unit, and MP3 player, it’s how I get mail/calendar/contacts and news when I’m not at a PC, which is a big thing…. Steve has Outlook anywhere neé RPC over HTTP, and this too makes a big difference to my way of working, and Outlook Web Access deserves an honourable mention

  3. While we’ve with mail, the Outlook 2003’s reading pane should get a mention, the reading pane idea is now in Vista’s explorer. But I’ll count reading panes only once.

  4. RSS. See my other postings for why I think this is important.

  5. Search. In SharePoint, in SQL, in Exchange, but above all Integrated everywhere in windows Vista.

  6. One note, a great aid to organising all those snippets of information

  7. Domains, although they took a whole new role in Active directory (which should get it’s own entry) Domains are the only good thing to be carried forward from OS/2. In those days, before Novell had a directory service, you logged onto each server individually, and until NT came along the your PC didn’t care which user you signed in as.

  8. Fast user switching, currently only of interest to users outside a domain, fast user switching makes sharing a PC so much easier – great for XP at home, and good for Vista in the office too.

  9. Fast user switching uses Terminal Services technology, How did we ever cope when we need to go to the server room ? Or back to our own PCs.

  10. Document image writer. A little noticed feature in office. But when your company travel agent sends your itinerary as copy-disallowed PDF file, it is great to have this combination of print and OCR functions and so you can insert it your diary. I’ll list 10 annoyances of business travel another time.

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.


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