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TechEd 2008 Day 3. Or is it 2? I lost count.

I've been meaning to keep this more up to date, but the fact that I am this disorganised is the main reason that I haven't been too active as a blogger before.

So, I've been wandering around TechEd, going to sessions on the relevant topic, and sitting through talks that are more about selling products than solving problems. Throughout the whole thing, I have been encountering what I see as being Microsoft's problem since the early 90s, if not the mid 80s.

Microsoft don't actually seem to get on board to anything until they see where it's going. This gives them the appearance of following rather than leading. They used to lead, once, some might say they still lead today, but really, they're following other companies, and also the open-source and online communities.

For instance, I sat through a presentation in the keynote, where they went on about a new asset management and workflow tool. It looks really impressive, except that I've seen more or less the same thing from 3 other vendors in the last year. And some of them are much more mature. Of course, as per usual with Microsoft, theirs offers "seamless" integration with Exchange, Office, etc... but they give no clear idea how it might integrate with other extant systems, such as those in use at my organisation. We already have substantial investment in HP and Symantec products, and we've started looking at their offerings, so Microsoft are a bit late to the party, but they are going to tell us how we it is part of Windows Server.

Of course, this brings up the touchy subject of anti-trust, which I'll go into somewhere else, but that's not really the point. The point is there's no real innovation here. Or if there is, they've kept it secret too long. Of course, many people will see this for the first time here, and assume they're ahead of the curve, and Microsoft will be safely ensconced in organisations around the world. (Remind me later to go on about Monocultures as well.)

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Reader Comments (1)

I wonder if the problem is that the innovation Microsoft tends to do (and is pretty good at) occurs in a different space -- the technology as handcuffs that makes IT managers happy.

On the West Coast the valuable skills for getting jobs tend to revolve around open source stacks (LAMP, etc.) This is because most west coast companies are building products they want to (a) sell or (b) scale without paying some kind of per-CPU tax to a third party.

But now, I live in Alabama where the valuable skills are ... Microsoft certifications. Why? Because the companies here are tech *consumers* rather than tech *producers*. If you're still working where I think you're working then one of the unusual things about where you work is that it's probably rather more technically advanced than most enterprises (sad to say).

Or to put it another way, Microsoft likes to commodify its complements (e.g. user skills) and make its competitors expensive (with a nod to Joel Spolsky), and this is exactly how it "innovates". It's not "how do we make something new and cool?" but, "how can we take something that the cool kids use and turn it into something an MSCE can install and kind of administer without bursting too many brain cells?"

30/Jun/2009 | Unregistered CommenterTonio Loewald

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