Microsoft is often unfairly criticized, says former vice president Dick Brass, but has a real problem creating new things that people care about. Despite having one of the best corporate labs in the world, internal factions thwart one anothers' attempts to develop new technologies, wrecking the company's ability to turn innovations into products.
This is what happened when ClearType font anti-aliasing was developed:
Engineers in the Windows group falsely claimed it made the display go haywire when certain colors were used. The head of Office products said it was fuzzy and gave him headaches. The vice president for pocket devices was blunter: he'd support ClearType and use it, but only if I transferred the program and the programmers to his control.
I wonder who at Microsoft made sure Surface never got out the gates? Brass writes that the vice president in charge of Microsoft Office sabotaged the company's attempts to develop decent Tablet PCs, by refusing to develop versions of Office that could work properly on them: "To this day, you can't use Office directly on a Tablet PC."
Imagine what would happen at Apple if whoever was in charge of iWork set out to suppress development of an iPad version because he didn't believe it was real computer.
Microsoft's Creative Destruction [NYT]
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