One of the most interesting things to read on the web these days is the comment stream on a blog from Microsoft insider Mini-Microsoft.
This is a blog based on the premise that Microsoft has grown too big, having hired too many people that don’t do very much except “play Microsoft”. Mini asserts this as the reason that many feel MS is unable to lead the market any more.
Naturally, one takes this insiders perspective with a grain of salt, and even more salt is needed when reading the comment stream: as you’d expect, it attracts the disaffected in the company, those with an axe to grind.
But I’ve noticed something so interesting in the years I’ve been reading it: there are far less people showing up with the “drink the cool-aid” mentality than before. I used to laugh, before, when MS people showed up that had so clearly been “chipped” by Redmond. Even when I worked there, it was a standing joke that we all had to go to Redmond to get our little chips inserted that would make us immune to any criticism of the company or its products.
I think the chip has stopped working.
In fact, when you read the comment stream, it is hard to stop yourself thinking that MS is imploding from within. Stories of terrible managers who are destroying the careers of their people. Product groups that are in permanent spin because they’re so lacking in vision. Management arrogance that fails to accept that the stuff going out the door isn’t really that good.
Most of all, the comment stream is a cry from the front line to save the company which so many have invested many years in.
Anyway, as I say, you have to read it with a grain or two of salt.
But if there’s one thing that I’ve always noticed about this comment stream over the years, it is an excellent barometer of Microsoft’s capability to execute, and it is counter cyclical to their success. Prior to the Vista bomb, lots of people with chips were around. Now, there are hardly any, so maybe it is reasonable to conclude that Windows 7 will be OK.
Prior to the release of iPhone, everyone in Windows Mobile had a chip. Now all you hear are stories in the comment stream of people who are switching to iPhone internally. Even though the new version of Windows Mobile is apparently terrible, perhaps it is a sign that the version coming next year will actually be decent.
Same with Live Search, which is now Bing. Mind you, there are chipped people starting to show up about that, so perhaps Bing is going downhill.
Pretty big lack of chip on the subject of Azure, the new Microsoft cloud service, so the first release of that might be OK. Or maybe noone knows enough about to have an opinion.
Everyone seems pretty chipped out on Office 10, so suspect that will be terrible.
Anyway, read the comment stream yourself and draw your own conclusion. Mine is that internally, there’s quite a bit of trouble at MS at the moment.