Feature

Business columns: Microsoft’s innovation deficit

Today&rsquo;s most exciting new technologies were all developed far from Microsoft&rsquo;s Redmond, Wash., headquarters, said Dick Brass in <em>The New York Times.</em>

Dick BrassThe New York Times

The hoopla over Apple’s new iPad tablet computer raises a painful question for Microsoft, said former Microsoft executive Dick Brass. Why is it that the company “no longer brings us the future”? Today’s most exciting new technologies, from the BlackBerry to Amazon’s Kindle, were all developed far from Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., headquarters. Don’t blame a lack of talent or money. “Thousands of the smartest, most capable engineers in the world” have helped Microsoft rack up $100 billion in profits in the past 10 years.

The real reason is that Microsoft allows “big, established groups,” like the one responsible for the Office suite of software, to “prey upon emerging teams” and “ultimately hector them out of existence.” I learned that lesson the hard way a decade ago, when my team tried to develop a tablet computer, only to be thwarted by “internecine warfare.”

Without intending to, Microsoft’s leaders have allowed internal competition to become “uncontrolled and destructive.” Unless the company learns to embrace the new instead of fearing it, “it’s an open question whether it has much of a future.”

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