Thursday, September 28, 2006

Rebuilding Microsoft in Wired Magazine

Over nine years ago, Wired magazine ran a front-page cover article about Apple. Specifically, how Apple was on the verge of collapse, needed some hard praying, and perhaps needed to take a dose of the 101 ways to save Apple. It's quite the nostalgic read.

And the cover was precious:

Okay, I know it's asking too much for folks to get down and pray for Microsoft's resurgence, though I'm sure there are more than a few shareholders putting in a load of prayers for the stock price.

The most recent Wired, 14.10, has the article Rebuilding Microsoft by Fred Vogelstein. It's like the winds of change blowing over a turning tide. Mr. Vogelstein's article is looking past the reports of employee moral and issues with bureaucracy and review model curves and focuses on what path Microsoft is on to get out of the innovator's rut and back into the competitive game. And Live services and Mr. Ozzie are front-line-and-center.

Mr. Barr has a take on Ray Ozzie's Company Meeting talk, the future of Windows Live, and this Wired article, too (yeah, there are a couple of boo-boos in the article).

What's interesting to me about this article in Wired - which I put down as a tech-community influencer magazine - is that it's a public acknowledgement that Microsoft is perhaps turning it around (I can hear the bubbling sounds from Slashdotters frothing mouths about now). Now, we'll probably not admit we had a problem to be turned-around until we're smack-dab in the middle of the solution, but I find a take like this encouraging. I still believe there's a lot of work, and if Mr. Ozzie ends up equipping us with a 21st century super-duper sports-engine, I think it's still important to ensure our Microsoft Coupe doesn't have four-flat tires to go with it.

For instance: with all the organizational flattening going on, I'd like to see a return to the celebration of the individual contributor. You shouldn't have to decide you're going to leave a path of blood to reach Partner-level in order to be a success at Microsoft. Let's get back to empowering the front-line folks with decision making and when they make fantastic decisions shower them with rewards and kudos. I'd like to hear less about the no-doubt Partner-level employees joining Microsoft as strategic acquisitions and how Microsoft internally is aggressively developing talented, entrepreneurially groups and people. Super stars should come from within and be celebrated by the internal and external community. And that's a hot recruitment story.

The fact that is not happening is a flat, blown-out tire.

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