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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Microsoft & Its Priorities

Nial Kennedy leaves microsoft. He joined a few months back as part of the rejunevated Microsoft's Windows Live division ,to create a new product team around syndication technologies such as RSS and Atom and build a feed syndication platform leveraged by Microsoft products and developers all around the world. The reason for his departure and the inside information(which most in the external world anyway thought was happening inside Microsoft) he shares makes disturbing but insightful reading:

The Windows Live initiative got off to a huge start, with lots of new services created and an "invest to win" strategy in the new division. There were so many new programs created and headcount opening up Microsoft told Wall Street it would be spending $2 billion more than anticipated in the short-term to cover these new costs including over 10,000 new hires over the last fiscal year. The stock plummeted on the recent announcement Microsoft did not have its costs under control. Windows Live is under some heavy change, reorganization, pullback, and general paralysis and unfortunately my ability to perform, hire, and execute was completely frozen as well. If we had the resources I truly believe we could have tackled the number of users Hotmail, Messenger, Spaces, or even Internet Explorer might supply, and then ask for more by opening up the platform to the world. I was able to borrow resources here and there, but there was no team being built around the platform in the foreseeable future. I could have stayed at Microsoft, waited for the other 85% of the company to ship their products, and then hope support for my group might be back on track again, but I didn't want to sit around doing little to nothing until Vista, Office, and Exchange ship.

As I see it, It’s a telling statement to make : "It's easier to get funding outside Microsoft than inside at the moment, so I am stepping out and doing my own thing." If anything Microsoft should be funding , in my view dozens of such initiatives –particularly those centered around the web – no point in just saying that it would improve its presence and offering on the web. Seasoned corporate observers would know that exits like this or statements like this may not be entirely relied upon for making judgments on a corporation, but here several things point to the possibility of this being more real than otherwise. Somebody said Microsoft is increasingly behaving more like IBM ( am talking about slow pace of innovation and giant letting emerging opportunities pass by)– Its probably proving to be right. These are the things that aggregated Microsoft R&D expense chart would not show.

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