Microsoft's reality problem

Apple's big iPad splash highlights Microsoft's failures as a company, notes a former Redmond exec. And things are only going to get worse

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A third reality disconnect: The notion that Microsoft has made computing easy and ubiquitous for the masses. Sure, it's preferable to master one set of file commands rather than a different batch for every program; I, for one, do not miss the Lotus 1-2-3 backslash. But Microsoft designs software under the assumption that everyone who uses it is either a gibbering simpleton or an engineer -- so it vacillates between condescending and pointless dialog boxes and incomprehensible error messages, with few stops in between.

The only real consumer success Microsoft has had is with the Xbox. That's because the Xbox came out of the skunkworks operation that developed DirectX in the late 1990s -- allowing it to avoid much of the internal politics that Brass describes in his editorial.

I've long felt the worst possible thing that happened to Microsoft was when a federal appeals court overturned Judge Thomas Jackson's decree to split the company in two. Actually, it probably should have been split into four or five parts. Imagine a world where Office development could continue unencumbered from Windows, where Microsoft's Internet division could be as nimble as a Web startup, or its consumer electronics as appealing as anything coming from Sony or -- dare I say it? -- Apple.

Maybe that's overstating it. But being enormous didn't help the dinosaurs in the end, and it's not helping Microsoft now.

OK, Microsoft fanboys, have at it. Am I being too harsh? Weigh in below or email me:

This story, "Microsoft's reality problem," was originally published at

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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