Creativity is what spurred the growth of the computer industry and technology. Challenges were met and new frontiers conquered through sharp-edged innovations and competition. Sadly, over the years small companies like Microsoft grew into giants and then lost their thirst for adventure. They deliberately hid their proprietary source code and this stunted innovation. Like a drug peddlers they have created a “Microsoft” addiction among computer users. And, then used the dependency to charge exorbitant prices.
Since Microsoft does not believe in promoting open source technology even with intellectual property protection it hampers the faster development of technology and discourages others from even attempting improvements or changes. In blunt terms , Microsoft functions like the Chicago thugs did early this century. It maintains a strangle hold on PC users and sellers and creates strategies that prevent hardware manufacturers from using systems like Netscape.
Time and again the company has held other businesses and computer users at ransom with it monopoly on Widows and the Intel platform. In fact a court ruled that Microsoft illegally stunted innovation and did injustice to consumers. The company however always maintains that its practices are just competitive behavior.
In fact a few years ago, the EC found Microsoft guilty of harming the market and consumer by producing less choice and higher prices. For abusing its monopoly Microsoft was fined 497.2 million pounds.
Trapped in its early ways of thinking, Microsoft is still to understand and embrace the new world order. The dependency on its old successes, Windows and Office, lingers and any innovations are snuffed out as they germinate if they are perceived as threats to the old monoliths.
When examined closely one finds that it is not lack of imagination or effort but the corporate culture and business practices that drag innovation to the ground. However a glimmer of hope emerges from the statement made by Bill Gates, that Microsoft plans to open source both Windows and Office in keeping with present day trends.
Also on the net are what are perceived to be “pr stunts” memos by senior Microsoft leaders expressing concern over loss of technological advancements and market leadership and that the company sucks at innovation. Being a monopoly with insatiable hunger for money the company has had a narrow vision over the years. Its dealings have created great mistrust among users as well as business partners. There is no admiration or trust amongst techies and, Microsoft has become its own enemy.
While Skype introduced phone calls over the web, Apple moved with the pace of the cyber world and created downloadable digital content, and Google improvised internet search and developed a new online advertising model. Microsoft stagnated bogged in its own success. And, the truth is that Live Software cannot be termed as innovation, it is a revamp at best.
Microsoft needs to take a closer look at itself, shed its inhibitions and shackles to innovate, to lead, to embrace the future.