Windows Live Brand Confusion

I find the recent branding work by Microsoft interesting… especially as they seem to be falling — yet again — into the same issues I document in my book about Microsoft and what’s next. For starters, as Todd Bishop notes in his Microsoft Blog (available at Seattle PI Tech section), the company can’t make up its mind if it is going to promote MSN, Windows Live or Microsoft Live — and as the users comment note, no one can quite figure out the difference between these different services — even employees themselves! Secondly, and less important, Microsoft hasn’t yet figured out what Apple knew years ago — that using one consistent naming convention, and one consistent metaphor — communicates better than any...

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Beyond Microsoft: Chapter 5

Chapter 5: The Invisible Interface “[I]increasingly rapid technological changes are likely to significantly change user interfaces. We are at the dawn of an era where user interfaces are about to break out of the ‘desktop’ box…” – “Past, Present and Future of User Interface Software Tools” September 15, 1999 Brad Myers, Scott E. Hudson, and Randy Pausch / Carnegie Mellon University The iPod Secret Five years ago, I walked into a small Silicon Valley room to meet a tiny interface company called “Pixo.” I was there with a team of Adobe senior scientists to present our vision of the future. We hoped that Pixo might be able to help us achieve that dream. Yet as our Adobe engineers described the coming wave of mobile devices and multimedia players, there were sideways...

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Beyond Microsoft: Chapter 2

Chapter 2: Revenue to the Wind… Web Services and .NET “If you let yourself get too comfortable, you start converting creative energy into defensive energy, and you spend all your time just protecting what you’ve got.” – New Yorker Editor William Shawn Winning with Web Services The new world of Web services was potentially worth a lot more to Microsoft than boxed software sales. According to his biographer, CEO Steve Ballmer had realized as early as 1998 that “it was the Internet, not the desktop, that would rule the future.” In order to win in the new world of Web services, the company tried to create another positive feedback loop. Microsoft plays to win, and only another whirlwind-like cycle of Windows proportions would allow Microsoft to dominate once...

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Beyond Microsoft: Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Winning the Browser, Losing the War   “One day, somebody will catch us napping. One day, an eager young upstart will put Microsoft out of business. I just hope it’s fifty years from now, not two or five.” – Bill Gates, in Business at the Speed of Thought Beating the First Wave In 1996, Microsoft was under attack. I was one of Microsoft’s warriors, fighting the incoming tsunami of the “Internet tidal wave” when all the Web technologies were brand new. “The Internet is destroying our position as the setter of standards,” Bill Gates wrote in an internal company memo. “The Internet is taking away our power every day and in time will have eroded it irretrievably…” On Pearl Harbor day, Bill frantically marshaled the troops. We would defend...

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Beyond Microsoft: Prologue

Prologue — Victory to Defeat: 1994-2004 Ten Years in the Trenches Microsoft’s obituary was first written in 1994. Companies like Netscape, Sun and Oracle were rising threats on the Internet. Yet Bill Gates rallied the troops and together our team faced down the “Internet tidal wave” that threatened to swamp our company. By 1997, I was part of the horde of ex-Internet developers and business leaders who left Microsoft and worked as a consultant in the burgeoning Website development industry. Eventually I was asked to join Adobe Systems – creators of PhotoShop and Acrobat – to work on a new Internet Products Group, shipping development suites that would compete with creative tools like Microsoft FrontPage and Macromedia DreamWeaver. Adobe’s team were excited...

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