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For six years, the Internet Nexus served as my technology blog, but I've since started blogging at the SuperSite Blog instead. If you're looking for the blog, please head there. --Paul

Monday, March 19, 2007

‘Microsoft sucks’, says top blogger

Actually, he didn't say that. I guess anyone can succumb to the easy and cheap headline.

Regardless, you know you're in trouble when your most visible (former) evangelist is this critical. On the other hand, Robert Scoble is somewhat overrated when you consider that all of the products he hyped while at Microsoft either sucked (UMPC) or took so long to release that many of the people he was evangelizing simply stopped listening (Vista). Sensational headlines notwithstanding, The Sunday Times reports:
In the past, Scoble has tended to be sympathetic about Microsoft’s failings. However, he was provoked into stinging criticism last week after a series of triumphalist remarks, including some disparaging comments about Google made by Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive.

At a “global summit” of its most-valued software developers, Microsoft repeatedly declared that it would “win” in search and other parts of its Windows Live internet strategy.

“The words are empty,” Scoble responded. “Microsoft’s internet execution sucks (on the whole). Its search sucks. Its advertising sucks. If that’s ‘in it to win’, then I don’t get it.”

He continued: “Microsoft isn’t going away. Don’t get me wrong. They have record profits, record sales, all that. But on the internet? Come on.
The funny thing is, Ballmer is right: Most of Google's products and services are perpetual-beta toys that never amount to anything. And curiously, many of the Windows Live products and services are quite good. No matter: It's clear that Microsoft doesn't "get" the Internet in the sense that it refuses to cannibalize its own products (i.e. Office) in order to make strong gains in the online world. As long as that's true, Microsoft will always be an also-ran in the emerging markets that may very well define the software market going forward. This is a much bigger risk to the company than Mac OS X or Linux, for example.

As a final aside, The Times article above uses quotes from a post on Scoble's blog called Microsoft tells MVPs 'we’re in it to win" — Really? So you can just read the whole thing if you want. If you're not familiar with the MVP program, those guys are Microsoft's version of the Hitler Youth. (And yes, many of them are good people. But the program itself is pointless and shouldn't exist.) It will come as no surprise for you to discover that when I was slipstreamed into the program a few years back, I ran into immediate trouble because I refused to drink the Kool-Aid and stop criticizing the company publicly and leaking details about future products, even though none of that information ever came from the MVP program, which I constantly ignored. We split less than amicably. As Scoble notes, "the MVPs might be easy to talk into doing some cheerleading but the rest of us are over that now. We're looking for signs of leadership and so far we don’t see it." Agreed.

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