Last year I read a piece in Vanity Fair that talked about Microsoft and how the company has appeared to stagnate somewhat over the last decade. As a stockholder, I’ve been a little disappointed in Microsoft’s performance, especially as I’ve seen many other technology companies grow rapidly in that time. The performance has been more suited to some of the stodgier industrial companies than a high tech offering.
There was a time when Microsoft courted developers, and created an excitement that resulted in many individuals and companies writing new applications for the Windows platform and caused an explosion of growth, not just for Microsoft, but for everyone in the ecosystem. The last six or seven years it seems Apple has taken over that crown with the excitement generated by iOS. Even as Microsoft made a fantastic update to its core OS with the lean and fast Windows 7, and even as SQL Server has grown to become a platform that can power almost any application in the world.
Overall, however, I think Microsoft has become more of a business than an innovator. There is an incredible focus on business and sales first, and awesome technology second. I don’t think leadership is inspiring or even leading the company well. I feel that there is a lack of focus across the business, with such a disparate set of products and efforts, that the overall view of one of many independent groups vying for resources and lacking a coherent vision of where the company is headed. That results in a lot of products that don’t seem to integrate well, at least without lots of patches.
Microsoft isn’t doing badly, however, as they just posted record revenues. Even better for us data professionals is the fact that SQL Server revenue was up 16%, which shows the product is popular, solid, and selling well. I expect we’ll continue to see lots of advancement in the features we can use in future versions. Now if they’d just get rid of the sideshow of “R2” naming….