(This is a snapshot of my old weblog. New posts and selected republished essays can be found at raganwald.com.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007
  Until now, Microsoft could sell code better than anyone

Until now, Microsoft could sell code better than anyone, but it seems the company would rather sell services: software as a service, ads, search engine results—you name it.

This is like the local storefront that opens as a knife-sharpening business and is soon selling junk jewellery, moose heads, toaster repair, and cheap chocolate. In the meantime, the knife-sharpening business goes by the wayside.

This is what has happened to Microsoft, and Vista is the result.
—John Dvorak gets one right: The Vista Death Watch

Comments on “Until now, Microsoft could sell code better than anyone:
My brain reflexively skips over John Dvorak's writing, just like it does with advertisements. I simply don't see it anymore.
Is this like Google, with search?
Dvorak is the cranky, scatterbrained grandfather of the PC industry. Good thing he's safely institutionalized at PC Magazine, where he can be looked after in his twilight years.
It's not just Dvorak; look up "vista xp downgrade." OEMs and big corporate clients are not happy with Vista. For example, check out this CNet article
Big corporations (and some people) get very, very angry when you move their cheese. If it was up to these people, we'd still be using character mode apps.

Ha ha, yes, it's definitely a case of companies like DELL being discomforted by dealing with change!

Who moved my cheese?

Most definitely.
Speaking of cheese movers, it's a big challenge for developers. I work at a company that delivers a Windows program every month. So for us, the OS matters. Most of our clients are on XP, but still a sizable chunk on 2000. Vista is negligible so far as most of our clients are big corporations and I think our clients using Vista are only the small shops.

We have to make decisions around this reality. There may well be features of Vista that we could take advantage of to enhance our product, but it's not worth the effort right now.

Our product is very important in its market, but as important as we think we are, we're not likely to influence enough of our major clients to do wholesale OS migrations (assuming we could come up with such compelling Vista-only features in the first place.)

I think some of this lack of influence reflects the different purchasing agents - one for the platform and one for the software that runs on it. Our sales reps are probably working with different people than Microsoft's sales reps are.

Even if some of our clients switched to take advantage of some cool new feature of our product, we would have to have some reasonable substitute for the clients that didn't switch, but that adds support costs.

So we tend to have a fairly conservative approach to our technology.

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Reg Braithwaite

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