Archives for March 2008

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Web Applications on the Desktop

The latest trend in Web Applications is – surprise, surprise! – going back on to the desktop. e Adobe Air and Mozilla Prism are two technologies that help Web Apps behave more .. hm, surprise, surprise! … desktop-like. Full circle? Why the “move to the cloud” circus if we’re coming back to the desktop anyway?

Well, we’re not. We’re just doing web apps differently. Matthew Gertner, former CTO of Allpeers (in the deadpool) who is currently working on Prism provides his perspective on TechCrunch. I can’t even attempt to add to the technical discussion, so I’ll play the dumb business user (won’t be too difficult smile_sarcastic) and explain what I see from that angle.

First of all, there appears to be some confusion in this dialogue: Google Gears and Single Site Browsers (SSBs) are two different animals, even if Gears has future extension plans.

  • Gears is all about offline access, which, let’s face it, make sense, until we have “always-on, everywhere” connectivity. It’s data access, and it’s good, albeit somewhat cludgy.
  • SSB’s are all about convenience: instead of just having tabs in the browser, certain applications now have their own window, can be minimized, when closed can show up in the systray ..etc – in other words they behave like desktop applications. When the everything-in-a-browser concept became popular we all worked on 15-17″ displays. Today huge displays are affordable and popular – but now that I have all this screen real-estate, I’d like to be able to display 3-4 windows at a time – not flip-flopping between, but have them all available. I can’t do that with the browser tabs, unless I launch multiple browsers ( waste of resources) or find the way to detach some tabs – that’s what SSB’s do.

A commenter on TechCrunch asks:

So it is progress to send things back to being one window with no tabs?
Wasn’t the point of tabs to put all of those windows into one?

No. The point was not having to install myriad applications that need to be patched, the data files scanned for viruses ..etc. Now, I consider myself progressive, and like to support the future trend just out of principle, but I am first of all a user, and nothing convinces a user better then their own pain. So here are a few examples of my own pain with desktop computing, just from the last two days.

  • I turned on an older laptop I don’t often use nowadays, and I literally had no access to it, the damn thing kept itself busy for an hour with Windows Update, McAfee update, (I killed the virus can), Foldershare sync and Copernic desktop search indexing. In other words, it was struggling just to stay up-to-date, and I could only get to use it an hours or so later.
  • The very reason I turned it on is that even though I now have a screamer desktop, I have to fall back on the slow laptops any time I need to edit a PDF file: my trusted old Adobe Acrobat 6 is not supported on Vista, and I am not about to cough up the price when I don’t need new functionality, so I have to keep the old junk running, just to avoid losing functionality I paid for. I won’t have to do this forever, some of the Web-based Acrobat alternatives are getting pretty good…
  • I’m in the middle of a major paper elimination project: throwing away boxes of expired folders, keeping only electronic copies of the crucial stuff. This involved hours of installing and uninstalling obsolete software this afternoon: Turbotax versions all the way from 1996 only so I can read the .tax file once and convert it to PDF. Intuit now offers Turbotax entirely online, and while I haven’t found any info on how long they support retrieval of old returns, as the years go by I’m sure they will address it – and I don’t have to install anything.
  • A few hours later the old PC started to choke: it ran out of hardware space. Impossible! Just a few months ago I removed all my photos, that’s a huge gain, I should have ample space. Yeah, right, it turns out Foldershare, which I use to keep the 3 household computers in sync accumulated over 10G in its trash folders, which is nothing on the new PC, but a third of the old laptop’s 30Mb storage capacity. And would you believe there’s no setup option to auto-clear trash from time to time? (It can auto-delete your real files, just not trash.)

Personal computers, and the desktop computing model were liberating in the 80’s, when they got us off the dumb green terminals, which we could only access at work, that is those of use who worked at large corporations who could afford a mainframe. PC’s were expensive enough that any one of us only owned one, if any, and the ability to work on that single machine actually meant increased access and mobility. But as we upgrade, we tend to keep the older computers, and I bet most of my readers have more than one computer in their household, let alone business.

Keeping all of them up-to-date, having the same Application versions on all, synchronizing data is becoming more and more of a pain. Just as computing shifted to the Client model in the late 80’s, we’re facing another shift now, and the move off the desktop, on to the Cloud will be just as liberating as getting onto it was 20 years ago. Access to applications and data will no longer will be tied to a particular piece of hardware and we don’t worry about updates, maintenance – offload it to the Service Provider.

In other words Software as a Service is increasingly all about the second “S”.

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Apple’s Sneakiness Did Not Start Today

The entire blogosphere is up in arms against Apple, for their attempt to sneak the Safari browser onto Windows machines, via Apple Update.   Everybody is shocked, after all we’re more used to such behavior from the (Micro)Borg, but Apple are supposed to be the good guys…

Except they aren’t, and have never been.  The sneakiness hasn’t started today, it just went unnoticed for a good reason.  What’s wrong with the screen image below?

Safari selected as default?  Nope.  Nothing new there, that’s what everybody’s talking about today.  What’s really wrong is the selection of iTunes.  Wait! – you may say, this is the iTunes update program in the first place … Wrong!

I happen to be one of those weirdos who don’t have iTunes on my computer.  This is a Vista PC (no, I am not happy with it, but that’s another story) and I’ve never ever had iTunes installed. In fact I don’t like to have Quicktime either, for its stickiness (close to impossible to kill if off the systray), but I need it as some videos are only available in this format.  

But why is this thing pushing iTunes on my machine, without any config option to unselect it once and for all?  It’s just as much of an aggression as the Safari invasion today.

Now, it’s the top of TechMeme – but where is FSJ? 

 

Update (3/22):  A commenter below warned:

Be careful not to touch the “Thin Skin of Apple Fans”.:-).

Boy, was he right.  Look at otherwise reasonably objective Dennis Howlett come to Apple’s defense, who is turning it into a Mozilla issue, talks about “Badmouthing the competition”.  Dennis, you know Apple is out of line, if this was Microsoft, you and I both would condemn it, like we did in the past. 

 

Related posts: VentureBeat, InfoWorld, Asa Dotzler , MacDailyNews, InformationWeek, ReadWriteWeb, Brandon Live,

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Launch: Silicon Valley 2008 – Call for Startups

Startup Entrepreneurs who did not make it to the recent Under the Radar event, here’s your second chance: join us at Launch: Silicon Valley 2008, co-presented by SVASE and Garage Technology Ventures and Microsoft.

In fact it will be more than a second chance: while the UtR event focused specifically on the business-oriented web applications, Launch 2008 is designed to uncover and showcase products and services from the most exciting of the newest startups in information technology, mobility, security, digital media next generation internet, life sciences and clean energy. The inaugural Launch event was in 2006, combined with Guy Kawasaki’s Art of the Start conference.

Are these events worth attending? It’s your call … all I can say is 5 of last year’s presenters received venture funding, in aggregate of $30M. smile_shades

So if you are building the Next Great Business in the areas mentioned above, are (almost) ready for launch, meaning that by June 10th, 2008 you will have a product or service available, but have not been out in the marketplace for more than a few months, then by all means send an Executive Summary of no more than 2 pages to [email protected]. Submission deadline: May 9th, 2008. (Garage Technology offers a useful Writing a Compelling Executive Summary guide.)

Last year over 170 companies from all around the country and even overseas applied, so clearly the presentation spots are in high demand. Based on the submissions up to 30 companies will be invited to present at the Launch: Silicon Valley 2008 event on June10th at the Microsoft Campus in Mountain View, California. Presentations slots are 10 minutes, running in 6 sessions of 5 companies each. Each presenting team will also be assigned a cocktail table in the Networking Room where they can meet with interested audience members one-on-one to answer questions and explore possibilities.

Guy Kawasaki will deliver the opening Keynote, while the closing keynote will be by Tim Draper, Managing Director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

The evening before, on June 9th the presenting companies, registered audience and selected bloggers and media will be invited to a Pre-Event Party at a prestigious location in Palo Alto, providing a further opportunity for networking with Silicon Valley’s movers and shakers.

Here’s a list of companies that launched new products/ services at last year’s Launch Silicon Valley event:
BooRah, Catalog Data Solutions, ClearlyBest.com, Connectance, Datamash Corp., Data Robotics ($10MM venture financing, Q3 ’07), DivinR, d.light design, Eyejot, fix8, Fog Screen,GroupScope, H3.com, Industrial Origami, Jaxtr ($9MM venture financing, Q3 ’07), Kongregate ($5MM venture financing, Q3, ’07), LogSavvy, MyShape (Undisclosed venture financing, Q3, ’07), Nuvora, Ready Solar, Redwood Renewables, Sensl, Shapewriter, Smaato, SnapJot, Spresent, TelId, Truemors, Wrike, and Yodio.

So if you are a qualifying startup Founder, remember the deadline: May 9th. Registration fee (incl. Networking Table + 2 tix) for the invited finalists is $695 if SVASE members, $850 otherwise. For audience members, Early Bird registration is available at $145 / $195 until May 19th, after which only full price registration will be possible. For additional details and later for updates check http://www.launchsiliconvalley.org/.

Guy Kawasaki called Launch: Silicon Valley “the poor man’s Demo”. SVASE proudly wears that badge, since we’re bringing this event at a price that won’t keep any startups away. It’s your turn now: send in the Executive Summary and launch with us in June.

Update (3/21):  I was just informed that the SVASE site as well as launchsiliconvalley.org is down, and will likely be so for the next 48 hours. Bummer, apologies for the inconvenience.   In the meantime, Executive Summaries can still be sent to [email protected], and the , Early Bird registration works, too.

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Earthquake in China – Twitter Beats News Services

Scobleizer @dotBen says there was just a big earthquake in Chine and it’s not yet on BBC’s site.

the above came from Twitter.  The news is nowhere to be found on Google or Google News either.  If true (hope not…), twitter just beat the major news services again.

 

A weird co-incidence, I just read this earlier today:

Report: Next major earthquake on Hayward fault will be catastrophic

 

Update: here’s the USGS report, and the first news from Fox News – still nowhere else.

Update #2:  It’s on Reuters now.

Update #3: It hit (no pun intended) CNN now.

Update #4:  I don’t normally lose it, but I can’t believe such idiots existChinese EarthQuake Hits 7.4: Karma for Tibet Violence.  Jerk. smile_angry (pardon my French).

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Under the Radar Conference in Two Days – Save $100 Here.

Under the Radar is the Silicon Valley’s most established startup debut platform: a conference series organized by Dealmaker Media, covering business applications, social media, entertainment, mobility..etc. The next conference, focusing on The Business of Web Apps: Where the Web Goes to Work is only two days away and Dealmaker Media allowed me to announce a few discounted tickets. Enjoy the $100 blogger discount by registering at this link only.

32 startups will present in a rapid-fire format (correction: American Idol formatsmile_shades) they are grouped in categories of 4 each, in two parallel tracks (yes, you do have to pick one, but can switch back and forth), and each presenter has about 15 minutes. They get grilled by the judges and audience, and at the end of the conference the winners of each category are announced.

The categories and the selected startups are:

Track 1 Track 2
Business Calls

Virtualization

Get Aggregated

Manage Up

Happy Customers

Virtual Worker

Work Together

Marketing and Measurement

Last year I was on the Selection Committee to the Under the Radar Office 2.0 event, and as such reviewed over a hundred companies / products. Obviously not all could make it, so I am especially pleased to see some of them on this year’s list. Of course the real measure of success is that several presenters have since received funding, gained significant brand recognition and customers. Some are back this year as Graduate Circle sponsors:

3Tera | Blogtronix | Clarizen | Longjump | Nirvanix | Q-layer | Smartsheet.com | Transera

Other than the presentations, these events are also an excellent networking opportunity amongst the 400 or so attendees, so let’s look at the attendance statistics by provided by Dealmaker Media:

http://sheet.zoho.com

Concluding the Conference, Robert Scoble will be hosting a fireside chat with Amazon’s VP & CTO, Werner Vogels to discuss the future of apps in the cloud…where its heading, who will dominate and what you should be doing now to get ahead.

The event ends with a cocktail reception, and – here’s the bonus – participants are also invited to the Opening Reception the night before at Palo Alto’s Zibibbo.

So what are you waiting for? Grab a discounted ticked while they last.

Last, but not least, this year’s Selection Committee:

Pete Cashmore | Mashable
Robert Scoble | Scobleizer
Richard MacManus | ReadWriteWeb
Ismael Ghalimi | IT|Redux
Marshall Kirkpatrick | New Media Consultant
Josh Jaffe | Tech Confidential
Jon Burke | alarm:clock
Jeremy Toeman | Stage Two Consulting
Rafe Needleman | Webware
Leon Ho | Lifehack.org
Bryce T. Roberts | O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures
Stowe Boyd | /Message
Brian Solis | bub.blicio.us
Rod Boothby | Innovation Creators
Eze Vidra | VC Cafe & Ask.com

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Why Startups Shouldn’t Bother About NDA’s

OMG, this must be Recurring Themes Daysmile_wink  Just done with the Your Blog is Your Resume theme (this one pops up about once a year with almost predictable regularity), and am now worried about Alexander Muse’s health.  He’s a healthy strong man, but wants to shoot himself if he receives another NDA.  He quotes Rick Segal (sorry, Rick for taking it verbatim, it’s just too entertaining…):

VC firms typically do not sign NDAs for first looks/meetings.

VC firms typically do not sign NDAs with promises not to evaluate the same or similar businesses included.

VC firms typically do not sign NDAs with 5 year no contact clauses included.

VC firms typically do not sign NDAs with promises to report any contact with competitive businesses included.

Rick is a Canadian VC, and his firm has received 35 NDA’s so far this year. But here’s the best part from his post:

Repeat this 10 times before you go to bed tonight:

I will not send an unsolicited beautiful leather bound binder with 600 hundred pages of detailed business, marketing, competitive, and financial information about my business along with an unsigned NDA and a request for it to be signed and returned to any VC.

It arrived in my office on Thursday and the binder was off the charts nice.

Don’t ever do it. Really. Just send the nice leather binder without all the crap. smile_tongue  Unless you’ve discovered a new Conspiracy Theory (but you wouldn’t send that to a VC, would you?) don’t send hundreds of pages.  Your page limit for first contact is one, perhaps two.

Back to the NDA theme, now that we’ve  seen how VC’s hate them, let’s look at why startups shouldn’t bother about them anyway:

  • As an Entrepreneur it is often in your interest to share WHAT you do, as a way to solicit feedback, concept validation
  • If there is a “secret sauce” of HOW you will do it, you should not share it anyway, NDA or not – not until further down the road as part of due diligence with a committed investor
  • Since it’s commonly known that investors do not sign NDA’s, asking for it is akin to displaying a banner: “Newbie Here”

These were originally Dharmesh Shah’s points, and my addition:

  • If the information you reveal during the presentation is enough for a competitor to jeopardize your position, than you really don’t have anything substantial to justify an investment. Your time would be better spent on product development.

 

Finally, a side-note to Alex (and all):  RFP’s are also a waste of time.  Extraordinary effort on formalities, and most RFP’s are issued as CYA,  to cover up the fact that the prospective Customer already has a preferred vendor / solution provider.  If you’re in the public sector, there’s no way around them, otherwise avoid RFP’s – there’s always other business to go after.

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Resumes Are Dead. Your Blog is Your Resume. (Still).

I haven’t updated my resume for at least 3-4 years now. (There must be some old versions floating around, as just a few days ago a recruiter solicited me for a SAP Implementation Project – she must be especially dumb, not noticing the decade-old timestamp on my SAP qualifications.) But back to resumes: I don’t need one, and neither do you.

Even in the “old days” of writing resumes any recruiter would confirm that the single best way of landing a job was through your personal network. Top Executives, genius engineers, star salesmen, well-published academics don’t ever need to look for a job: they get invited. It’s always better than knocking on the door. Or many doors.

But now Seth Godin sets the same rules even for applicants to his internship:

Having a resume begs for you to go into that big machine that looks for relevant keywords, and begs for you to get a job as a cog in a giant machine. Just more fodder for the corporate behemoth. That might be fine for average folks looking for an average job, but is that what you deserve?

If you don’t have a resume, what do you have?

How about three extraordinary letters of recommendation from people the employer knows or respects?
Or a sophisticated project they can see or touch?
Or a reputation that precedes you?
Or a blog that is so compelling and insightful that they have no choice but to follow up?

We’ve looked at the two extremes: the top 5% whose personal reputation and network carries them on, and those who can’t really have a meaningful resume, since – unlike Ben – they are barely starting their careers. But in between is the rest of us, average Johns ad Janes, who probably have some achievements, are remarkable in one way or another … if only the world knew about it! Well, that’s the point! Most of us don’t have an extensive enough personal network, or they may be geographically dispersed, or they may not be in the right position… so how to get the word out?

Blogging changes it all. If you’ve been blogging for years, you certainly did not do it with a particular job in mind; your blog is likely to be a true reflection of who you really are, what you are an expert in, your communication skills, your priorities … YOU as a whole person, not as a candidate for a specific job – the brand called You. That’s certainly better than a resume, which is likely tailored for a particular job, and let’s face it, often “cosmetically enhanced” – no wonder it ends in the waste-basket.

You don’t have a blog? Why? Don’t you know the best time to market yourself is when you don’t need it?

Tom Peters has been saying for years:

Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You

My friend and fellow Enterprise Irregular Roth Boothby argues:

“…hiring a blogger is a lower risk proposition because you have more information and a better idea of how they are going to perform.”

He should know – he got hired twice, based on his blog. By the way, I really envy Rod’s charting skills:smile_eyeroll

It’s never been easier to build that Brand Called You: if you’re still not doing it, what are you waiting for? Start your blog today!

(hat tip: BL Ochman)

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Zoho People: Will it Disrupt or Fail?

Zoho, best known for their Web-based Productivity (Office+) Suite today released Zoho People, a feature-rich On-Demand HRMS – Human Resources Management System. For the product introduction please read my previous post, while here I focus on business analysis, specifically on what this move means to software sales in general.

Today’s product announcement signifies a departure from what Zoho has been known for so far, in a number of ways. Their primary reputation is being the best Web-based Office / Productivity Suite provider – People is clearly a process-driven, transactional system with “enterprisey” features: organization levels, work-flow, permissions…etc.

It’s not an entirely new field for Zoho though, as their CRM solution has been gaining traction for years now – both in terms of new customers as well as converts from the market leader. (See chart with full list of Productivity and Business Apps). As a matter of fact, I’ve often stated calling it CRM is an understatement: with Sales Order Management, Procurement, Inventory Management, Invoicing it’s really more of a mini-ERP. Add to it Accounting and HCM and Zoho can come up with an unparalleled Small Business Suite, which includes the productivity suite (what we now consider the Office Suite) and all process-driven, transactional systems: something like NetSuite + Microsoft, targeted at SMB’s, perfectly rhyming with Zoho’s stated objective of becoming the outsourced IT for small businesses.

Except… well, Zoho People is not a small business system. All you have to do is look at some of the organizational setup, or processes, like holiday, training, leave requests, company policies to realize that this system is ideally suitable for organizations with a few hundred employees and more. (The “M” in SMB, whereas most of Zoho’s focus has been on the “S” until now). So it’s a departure from Zoho’s traditional target market, and by its very nature it’s not a system individuals or small groups would just start to use in an ad-hoc manner. It’s a system to be introduced by HR for the entire company.

Bringing an enterprise system to the market typically requires a different approach, a coordinated marketing and sales effort, supplemented by consulting and support – i.e. all the extra weight that makes enterprise software “big and fat”. Yet Zoho just throws it out in the open, like they did with Writer, Sheet or any one of the dozen or so productivity tools. They have no clue how to market enterprise software! – one might say… and do they, really?

Simply announcing enterprise software without marketing and sales is certainly a risky proposition. Any startup that does with their main product is doomed to fail. Yet Zoho can afford an experiment. The new HCM system is just one product in their portfolio, in fact the entire Zoho portfolio is just a big experiment of the parent company, privately held and profitable Adventnet. CEO Sridhar Vembu repeatedly stated his mission is to commoditize software, delivering it to large masses at previously unseen prices.

There’s all this talk about how SaaS changes the economics of Software – pull vs push process, try-and-buy vs. the expensive enterprise sales process; but it mostly refers to the SMB space. The try-and-buy, self-serve model is almost unheard of amongst larger organizations and more complex software. It traditionally needs more cajoling and hand-holding. But why not break away from tradition? Why should all innovation stay on the product side? Zoho goes the extra mile to make the new system more “consumable”: screenshot tours, demo videos abound. Of course disruptive pricing does not hurt, either.

If Zoho People fails to gain traction, so be it: the company will likely focus on their main avenue of becoming the IT provider for SMB’s, integrate features from People into Zoho Business and CRM, and figure out how to crack the HCM market later. If, however it starts gaining traction, it’s a good signal to the entire SaaS industry: an indication that transparency, online information and help works, the try-and-buy model may just be feasible even with larger organizations, which, for the first time will buy Software as a Service instead of being sold to by pushy enterprise sales teams.

(Disclaimer: I am an Advisor for Zoho.)

Related posts: Between the Lines, Zoho Blogs, Deal Architect, Centernetworks, Wired, SmoothSpan Blog, GeekZone, Webware, Venturebeat, Web Worker Daily, TechCrunch, Business Two Zero, Irregular Enterprise.

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Zoho Enters Human Resources Market with Zoho People.

(I broke up my originally long post into two pieces: this one about the product announcement, and the next one with the business analysis)

Zoho, best known for their Web-based Productivity (Office+) Suite today released Zoho People, a feature-rich On-Demand HRMS – Human Resources Management System.

Several modules support the work of managers, HR professionals:

  • Organization for defining corporate and departmental structure
  • Recruitment for managing recruitment processes and maintaining resume databases
  • Checklist for defining business processes and workflows in the organization
  • Forms for defining custom business forms using the integrated Zoho Creator
  • Dashboard to overview it all

All the setup, be it form changes, new forms or field, org chart changes ..etc happens via a friendly drag-and-drop interface.

While all the above is for Management, HR, perhaps Training, Travel professionals, most “regular” employees in a company would only access the Self Service Module, which is split to an Employee and a Manager Self-Service section. Requests can be sent to the HR department on job openings, employees can submit information like Expense Reports, Vacation, Training Requests to the relevant departments/managers as pre-defined in the workflow…etc.

For a detailed feature overview, watch this demo video.


Zoho People from Raju Vegesna on Vimeo.

The application is currently in Beta, and for the Beta period it will be free, independent of the number of users. After the Beta pricing will likely involve a dual scheme, with ad-hoc users (regular employee accessing Self Service) paying less than full users (typically HR professionals.) While no numbers have been announced, Zoho claims the blended price level will be disruptive – something to the scale of Zoho CRM, which is about 10% of the cost of it’s main competitor.

Talk about CRM, it’s worth mentioning that while Zoho’s fame comes from the Office Suite (or the extended suite of Productivity Apps), this is not their first foray into business applications. Zoho People joins Zoho CRM, Zoho Meeting, Zoho Projects and Zoho DB. Below is an overview of the entire Zoho Portfolio:

Please read my next post for a business analysis on what Zoho’s entry to the HCM space means.

(Disclaimer: I am an Advisor for Zoho.)

Related posts:  Between the Lines,  Zoho Blogs, Deal Architect, Centernetworks, Wired,

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The Microsoft Vista Fiasco: Who is Evil Now?

Yes, it’s a harsh title. Yes, I’ve long been critical of Vista. But so far I thought it was just incompetence, the Behemoth having lost their edge. Naive me… this piece in The New York Times is a true eye-opener.

It starts with what appears to be average users’ stories (bare with me, it gets better):

  • Jon upgrades two XP machines to Vista, only to find none of his peripherals work anymore
  • Steven confirms drivers are missing in the entire ecosystem
  • Mike buys a “Windows Vista Capable” laptop which turns out to be a $2,100 email machine, as it doesn’t run his favorite programs, and only can handled the castrated version of Vista that shouldn’t exist in the first place.

If these users didn’t know better, I wonder who should. They are all senior Microsoft Execs:

  • Jon A. Shirley, a Microsoft board member.
  • Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft senior vice president responsible for Windows.
  • Mike Nash, a Microsoft vice president who oversees Windows product management.

They and several other Microsofties warned about the consequences of reducing the original strict hardware requirements and labeling underrated computers as Vista Capable:

The decision to drop the original hardware requirements is accompanied by considerable internal protest. The minimum hardware configuration was set so low that “even a piece of junk will qualify,” Anantha Kancherla, a Microsoft program manager, said in an internal e-mail message among those recently unsealed, adding, “It will be a complete tragedy if we allowed it.”

That this would result in disaster was foreseeable:

“It would be a lot less costly to do the right thing for the customer now,” said Robin Leonard, a Microsoft sales manager, in an e-mail message sent to her superiors, “than to spend dollars on the back end trying to fix the problem.”

He and others were not listened to. Now Microsoft is facing a class action lawsuit: nothing new to the Redmond giant, just a calculated risk. “Where does Microsoft go to buy back its lost credibility?” asks The New York Times.

Nowhere. They stopped caring a long time ago. The Monopolist does not have customers: they have loyal subjects used to pay their taxes to Microsoft. Except that they are not that loyal anymore, and there are visible cracks on the walls of the empire. There is Linux, Mac OS, Web Applications – customers are slowly realizing they actually have a choice. Choice is the end of all monopolies, it’s just a matter of time. The Borg could slow the process by trying to be user-friendly, at least pretend to care about customers. Deceptive behavior like this shows they don’t care. They are digging their own grave.

(Please, don’t get me started on how profitable Microsoft is doing – I am talking about a trend, and it takes time….)