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Monday, March 27, 2006

Microsoft & The 50 Million Lines Of Code Heavyweight

Microsoft’s shipping problem is well known. Steve Lohr & John Markoff write, "The strategy of bundling more and more features into its dominant Windows desktop operating system to thwart competition and stifle innovation is now affecting Microsoft - it turns out that Windows is indeed stifling innovation - at Microsoft". Vista is getting more and more delayed. Windows XP, the previous version is now about five years old .In those five years, the authors point out thatApple has turned out four new versions of its Macintosh operating system, beating Microsoft to market with features that will be in Vista, like desktop search, advanced 3-D graphics and "widgets," an array of small, single-purpose programs like news tickers, traffic reports and weather maps. The problem is not lack of talent or other resources, but it seems, is largely that Microsoft's past success and its bundling strategy have become a weakness. Due to enormous reach, each new version of Windows carries the baggage of its past. Windows Vista is a sprawling, complex software construction project with 50 million lines of code, or more than 40 percent larger than Windows XP. Microsoft does not want to delink the past and destabilize the windows ecosystem – part of the reason for its popularity but could slow down progress and stifle innovation. Some argue that the key to vista’s success may be to delink the past and start afresh as Apple did by retooling and tailoring the Next operating system into what became Macintosh OS X. Apple does not have to worry about a massive business ecosystem which Windows carries. Now the question is can Apple come out with a game changing innovation – that could give some credible competition to Microsoft – in the process providing customers with choice.

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