Monday, March 18, 2013

Why is Microsoft a bad shepherd?

The above article is yet another mild... how to fix windows 8 piece.  Quite nice and makes some useful points about customising win 8 to suit different users. But thats not the idea that I found interesting.

The seed came from the first comment.  "Microsoft should buy startdock. Or steal some of their employees".  This is both blindingly obvious and subtly interesting.

But why would that be a bad thing?

Consider this,  Microsoft purchases Stardock... or any other company that is building interesting products.  Lets not argue about how much or what the finacials are... lets be real and say that if the decision was made to purchase... it could be done.  This is not the point. Lets focus on what happens.

Microsoft and the mangers of the inhaled company integrate the staff and processes with MS and merge them into one of the MS business groups. They let go anyone that is not right and add some resources where needed.  Imagine it all goes well. (Not making any inuendos... just skipping past distractions while I get to my point) So whats the problem? Everyone is happy and productive.  There is only one thing that has been lost in the process.


The new additions to the Microsoft family... are now part of the Microsoft family.  They are goverened by the same internal politics that have generated the Microsoft platform.  They no longer have the choice to "have a different vision".  They cannot "fix things" that Microsoft do not see as broken. They cannot be a dissenting voice. (They can internally... but it carries less weight in the market place than offering an actual product that provides a solution users want)

The erosion of dissent and the aggregation of control are the things I see as being the death of all great organisations.  As more and more central control takes over a platform, there is less flexibility in thinking, less ability to adapt and address different users needs.  There is more movement towards a shared vision... the so-called "reality distortion field". 

What Microsoft and all the other lumbering giants of the tech industry need is an eccosystem of "loose" collaborators.  Companies, developers and users who all work on the same platform... but with different visions and objectives.  They fill the eccosystem and flesh out all the tiny little niche opportunities. 

Bringing the successful ones under the same vision and managment is just foolish.  Imposing control is the last thing that Microsoft should do to the ecosystem. Their role is simply to foster the ecosystem... to increase opportunity for the benine population and limit the opportunity for the predator population.   They are curators for the platform and the herds that browse upon its bountiful slopes.  Trying to domesticate the herds and put them into factory farms is just totally missing the point.

But, luckily MS have not bought Stardock.  They have not crippled the voices of dissent. Either intentionally or accidentally, there is still a healthy ecosystem around the platform(s).  This in no way forgives the many many many missteps that MS has taken and the many ways that it regularly alienates the ecosystem... but change is always painful.  Some will win, while others will sit around and whinge in the dust... such is life.

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