This BusinessWeek article, which I missed but an alert reader pointed me to, takes the thesis that MSFT is facing middle age with uncertainty.
The piece runs down the threats: Linux, slow growth, bloated core product that hasn’t had an update in years, anti-trust suits….then runs down how they are reacting.
So check this out: They keep a list.
While Ballmer drives day-to-day operations, the 48-year-old founder is taking personal control of the technology charge. He has put together what is now called “The List” around Microsoft’s Redmond (Wash.) campus. It’s a priority ranking of 50 or so initiatives that cut across product lines and are critical to making the next generation of products successful — everything from security software and the user interface to Web search and telephony. The List is so important that each item has been assigned to one top executive, who is responsible for driving it throughout the company. “We’re using a lot of IQ to go after these things,” says Gates.
Sound familiar? Yup, that’s how Google has been doing it for years.
Also interesting, BizWeek seems to have a scoop on what’s going on with Longhorn and the integrated search/file system:
The most important change (to Longhorn) is to the file system — the way information is stored on the PC. Microsoft is creating a new design not just for Windows but for all of its products that makes it easier to retrieve photos, documents, songs, and e-mail. That’s important as users stash more and more files on their computers. If Microsoft gets it right, it will be simple, for example, for users to zip through thousands of pictures and sort them by date or by the people in them.
But Longhorn won’t do everything Gates first envisioned. BusinessWeek has obtained copies of two internal e-mails showing that Microsoft is cutting some of the most ambitious technologies to get the product out the door. For example, Longhorn will now ship with a scaled-back version of the file system. The current plan, in practical terms, means people will be able to search their PCs for documents and information related to each other, but they won’t be able to reach into corporate servers for similar files.
I wonder, does this mean web-wide search integrated into Longhorn will be delayed?
And on the mid life crisis meme – Google may not be worried, but beware a company in midlife crisis – it might just try to buy the equivalent of a $100,000 sports car. And MSFT can afford some very nice cars….