Cringely Lays Bare Microsoft’s Underbelly

Posted on June 20, 2006 
Filed Under Uncategorized

In a return to his most vicious persona, Robert X. Cringely rails at Microsoft calling it “screwed up” and that the only way to fix the software giant is for Ballmer and the “dozen or so Bill clones” to leave.

Microsoft has spent five years and $5 billion NOT shipping Windows Vista. This reflects a company deliberately built in the image of its founder, Bill Gates — a single-tasking, technically obsolete executive with no checks or balances whatsoever who fills the back seat of his car with fast food wrappers. So Bill has to go, because as an icon, he’s great, but as a manager, he sucks.

Part of this is Gates, personally, and part of it is his entourage — a meritocracy based as much on historical proximity to Bill as anything else. That inner circle has to go, too, and if it doesn’t go — and go immediately — the required change won’t really happen because the one true Bill will just be replaced by a dozen or more Bill clones.

He quotes Jeff Angus’ “Management by Baseball” in describing Microsoft:

“When I worked for a few years at Microsoft Corporation in the early ’80s, the company had no decision-making rules whatsoever. Almost none of its managers had management training, and few had even a shred of management aptitude. When it came to what looked like less important decisions, most just guessed. When it came to the more important ones, they typically tried to model their choices on powerful people above them in the hierarchy. Almost nothing operational was written down…The tragedy wasn’t that so many poor decisions got made — as a functional monopoly, Microsoft had the cash flow to insulate itself from the most severe consequences — but that no one cared to track and codify past failures as a way to help managers create guidelines of paths to follow and avoid.”

Sound familiar? I guess this could be an apt description for any one of hundreds of Fortune 500 companies — or political parties for that matter.

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