April 1, 2005


Okay, Robert Scoble restarts his link blog, and four of the posts that he puts up are mine. Nifty.

Of course, I have a lot to thank Scoble for. Thanks to his links on my main page last month, my traffic more than doubled from 2038 visits in February to 4260 visits in March. Of course, that doesn't include RSS feeds...because of the way that Blog*Spot works, I can't track that.

It's weird that Microsoft still listens to their ex-employees. Some of my top visitors are tide*.microsoft.com, the Microsoft proxy servers. Those accounted for about 1600 visits last month.

Fact of the matter is that I still support Microsoft even though I quit back on September 30, 2003. I quit in part because of my family, in part because of stress, and in large part due to a schmuck who is now working on an upcoming hardware add-on for the next Xbox from what I understand. But there is one other underlying reason behind my leaving.

Microsoft is full of individuals who want nothing more than to make their customers happy. They want to make products that will be enjoyed by people. They want as many people as possible to use their products. They go to great pains to ensure that their products work across the board on as large a hardware and software base as possible in as many ways as possible. It's the opposite of Linux, where most development is digital masturbation, solely for the pleasure of the developer.

For a long time, Microsoft the company had a vision in line with Microsoft the employees. Those were heady days. Microsoft took good care of its employees, slathering them with options that were worth something and provided them with anything they needed so that they could be more productive...kind of like Google is doing today.

Then, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson struck, and the stock began it's long slide. Fortunately for those who own Microsoft stock, the slide has ended and the price has evened out, but it's because Microsoft the company has changed its focus.

Microsoft is now focused on ensuring shareholder value, not on customer and employee care. The change started with the nickel and dime things. Office supplies are cut back. Employees don't get towel service anymore. Employees had to subsidise some of their prescription benefits. Investors saw the nickel and dime shit and were happy, so the stock price went up.

Microsoft made the product units more transparent in the earnings statements, showing that everything was losing money except for Windows and Office. Investors liked the transparency, so the stock price went up.

Now the management of the various business units are all about the money. They're all trying to get their units back in black. Unfortunately, it's showing. The VSTS pricing debate is bad, but it's also symptomatic of the issues that are being faced by Microsoft as the company transitions to a sharefolder focus instead of a customer focus.

I don't know how to close this, so I'm going to end by saying, "Be careful, Microsoft." Don't focus on the shareholders too much, or you'll end up going Enron on us. Don't whittle away on your employees too much...Google is in the neighborhood now. And finally, don't whittle away at your customers too much. We keep you in business.

[Edit: Fixed Typo]

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