Microsoft used to be creative and cool – really!
I remember the early days when observers predicted that the partnership of too-hip Microsoft with buttoned-down IBM could never work – the management styles were just too different. And they were right!
Attend any conference and the Microsoft booth would be packed with customers eagerly chatting with young Microsoft teams dressed in khaki pants and polo shirts, while the IBM booth just felt SOOO conservative with the IBM folks in slacks and white shirts discussing products only a Fortune 100 company could love. Microsoft was cool, IBM was aloof, Apple was only used by K-12 educators and kooky graphic artists, and Google was just a number with lotsa zeros.
Kurt Eichenwald writes with great insight on Microsoft’s lost creativity for Vanity Fair – Microsoft’s Downfall: Inside the Executive E-mails and Cannibalistic Culture That Felled a Tech Giant…
“I see Microsoft as technology’s answer to Sears,” said Kurt Massey, a former senior marketing manager. “In the 40s, 50s, and 60s, Sears had it nailed. It was top-notch, but now it’s just a barren wasteland. And that’s Microsoft. The company just isn’t cool anymore.”
“They used to point their finger at IBM and laugh,” said Bill Hill, a former Microsoft manager. “Now they’ve become the thing they despised.”
I’m rooting for Microsoft creativity, but cool cannot be defined by those providing it…only by those consuming it.