The Financial Times writes,Microsoft has overhauled its core software development practices to avoid any repetition of the delays that have bedevilled the next planned version of Windows, quoting Steve Ballmer. The changes, along with plans to release more frequent, less ambitious versions of the widely used software, mark a significant shift in Microsoft's approach following one of the most troubled new product cycles in its 30-year history. Mr Ballmer's comments are the most public sign yet of the dent to Microsoft's confidence in its core development process that resulted from the Vista delays. Accustomed to building ever more elaborate versions of its operating system with each new release, Microsoft's ambitions finally reached a point where they overwhelmed the capacity of its internal planning processes. Executives have talked of taking a more “modular” approach to Microsoft's biggest products, breaking them down into smaller elements that can be worked on independently.
With good talent leaving, employees resentful, most work in maintenance mode added to it tight procedures and bureaucracy couple with flat share prices many within Microsoft are voicing out against the giant. Bweek quotes,Steve Ballmer as saying that one of Microsoft's strengths has always been its culture of self-criticism. The difference this time is that the internal debate is spilling out into public view because of blogs and e-mail. He says internal surveys show that 85% of the company's employees are satisfied with their jobs, about the same level as in past years. With Gate’s brain child - "integrated innovation"- the idea is to get Microsoft's vast product groups to work closely together to take advantage of the Windows and Office monopolies and bolster them at the same time- workers spend an immense amount of time in meetings making sure products are in sync. It "translates to more dependencies among shipping products, less control of one's product destiny, and longer ship cycles," writes Dare Obasanjo, a program manager in Microsoft's MSN division, on his blog.
The articel goes on to cover that to shake Microsoft out of its malaise, radical surgery may be in order. Raj Reddy who has served on Microsoft’s technical advisory board for 15 years thinks that the company should be broken up and that a handful of Microsoft spin-offs, seeded with some of the company's $37.8 billion in cash, could compete more nimbly in the marketplace. Microsoft is not the first company to struggle as it moves from adolescence to maturity. And it could learn some lessons from others that have made the transition more gracefully. GE has long boasted an entrepreneurial culture, with hundreds of managers running fiercely independent businesses. Those leaders are given free rein yet are held accountable for their own results - meaning they can get the boot if they don't perform. Microsoft certainly is chock-full of smart employees who want to do betterIt is an evergreen icon - that needs to stay healthy and keep moving well.