Are Microsoft's Products More Innovative and Better than the Competition?

by Volker Weber

Stefan Smalla thinks so:

I'm a big fan of Microsoft's despite all the negative monopoly-related hoopla. I admire its business success, strategic foresight, and tremendous management capabilities. But that's a topic for a different post.

My current point is the innovativeness and quality of its products. I know there are bugs; other products have those as well, and most importantly - frankly -, there are not that many bugs I really do come across. I know Microsoft copies from other companies; but that's part of successful innovation strategies: taking from others and making it better. I know there is a lot more criticism and some justified one, but mostly these are minor issues for me.

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Seyed disagrees and quotes The Economist :

"What is striking is how little innovation there has been in the bits of the market that Microsoft dominates, and how much where it has little influence. Operating systems, web browsers and word-processing software all look much as they did five years ago. But not many people are using five-year-old mobile phones, handheld computers or music-sharing software.

Opponents of the case always argued that there was no evidence that Microsoft's monopoly was doing any harm. But the harm lay in the (necessarily invisible) innovation that did not occur. Conversely, much of the innovation going on in other parts of the technology industry owes a lot to Microsoft's absence."

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I saw the Harvard Business School write-up that Stefan Smalla quotes. I can discredit the quote easily, unless the "one product" in 15 years is Lotus Domino/Notes server. Microsoft Exchange doesn't win reviews over Domino, except in MS-focused publications (windows2000 magazine etc). In the mainline reviews, Domino has always won. In fact we had a "win all reviews" initiative when R5 shipped -- and we did. So are we the one exception, or did the Harvard researchers not look all that hard? I have been considering e-mailing them to find out.

This is why I need to start my own blog....

Ed Brill, 2002-12-04

Very much looking forward to it !

Volker Weber, 2002-12-04

Unfortunately I don't have the time to read through all of the Hardvard Business Schoool write-up but it occurs to me that they didn't take German magazines into account. Would they have done that, I'm quite sure the outcome of the "research" would look very different. During my time as an editor, Microsoft's products weren't even near the 50 percent mark when it comes to wins of competetive reviews.

Stefan Rubner, 2002-12-04

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


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