Today Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, told attendees at the ImpactPeople conference in New York the new Microsoft ad campaign theme: "Microsoft: Software for the people-ready business." Ballmer claimed that Microsoft software and the new versions of various Microsoft products will improve the productivity of teams within companies.
I disagree 100% with Ballmer’s statements, including those that follow below.
“Successful businesses succeed based on the quality and performance of their people.
… We are talking about making the people in the business more productive.”
Let’s skip quality for the moment and go straight to performance and productivity. It has taken Microsoft over five years to produce an “upgrade” to Windows XP, called Windows Vista. It took six years for Microsoft to upgrade SQL Server 2000 to SQL Server 2005. It has taken four years for Microsoft to produce Office 2007 and SharePoint Server 2007. Other Microsoft products such as Internet Explorer (5 years) are also locked into this lengthy upgrade cycle.
Due to Microsoft’s near monopoly, these 4, 5, and 6 years delays in producing upgrades to existing software products have impacted the growth of economic productivity and performance on a world wide basis.
This is an example of negative productivity and performance on a global scale.
Amazingly in practically the same breath, Ballmer waxes poetically about Microsoft spending $20 billion dollars in the last three years on research and development.
For a CEO who in the past has spoken about “we eat our own dog food” he certainly is not displaying a track record for performance and productivity. As to quality, Microsoft’s best effort in that area is addressed by posting monthly patches to some (but not all) of their products. If you have Office, it’s not in the monthly patch. You need to go to the Microsoft Office web site to locate new patches. For enterprise critical servers such as BizTalk or SharePoint, it’s the same situation; you have to dig to find the patches. That doesn’t impress me as a commitment to quality.
"We think this is a pretty unique vision," Ballmer said. Well a horse wearing blinders has a pretty unique vision too! Ballmer implied that IT people (yes the ones who buy Microsoft’s products) don’t share this “vision” of productivity and performance.
Well that inflammatory statement will be big news to IT people. I would venture that if there is any one group within a corporate enterprise that is productive, it’s the IT department. IT doesn’t drive the quality, performance and productivity of the enterprise; it only provides the tools. It is up to the management to provide the leadership and drive for organizations of any size. Software is simply a tool, not a solution nor an implementation of productivity.
An organization could install all the Microsoft software products available and that would not guarantee one iota of increased performance, quality and productivity.
Microsoft’s “people-ready” campaign misses the whole point: It’s not about software, it’s about people.