Honest Vendor Ratings – Microsoft

Introduction

It is doubtful that the person reading this report does not know about Microsoft and its business practices and reputation. However, Microsoft is much easier to deal with in the enterprise software area than say SAP, Oracle or IBM because they are far less powerful than in the consumer software market. However, at the end of the day, one is still dealing with Microsoft, the toughest software vendor at least in the consumer software market. Microsoft is still considerably more difficult to deal with than most of the other software vendors in the markets in which they compete. As Microsoft does not offer a single competitive solution in the enterprise software categories that we cover, companies that simply have a preference for Microsoft products most often will be the target market for their applications.

Quality of Information Provided

Microsoft misinforms its customers and prospects, pretending it has innovative and high-quality enterprise software applications when it does not. Microsoft does not have the products in the enterprise space, so it relies on salesmanship, marketing, and lock-in. If you buy from Microsoft it will mean being aggressively pitched everything from SQLServer to Sharepoint on a regular basis. Microsoft will pitch Sharepoint as one of the best content management system when it is the worst application in its category. Microsoft’s technology advice is best discarded, and among technologists, Microsoft receives little respect and is considered primarily a marketing organization. Steve Ballmer was famously quoted as predicting that the iPhone.

“There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I’d prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get.” Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO 2007

Then there was the attempt to promote the Xbox, a gaming console for video conferencing.

“According to Lyons (of Microsoft), the Xbox One “is an affordable option for small business owners, as there are many features built into the console that could help it rival even the most modest of videoconferencing and networking platforms”. Among its uses, the Xbox One provides access to Microsoft’s soon-to-be renamed SkyDrive cloud service using a dedicated app, so you can share images, videos, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations.”

Of course, the author covering this Microsoft proposal was good enough to write the following:

“But this is nothing you can’t do on your PC.”

One of the most amusing comments on this topic was from a commenter, which read.

“Xbox will not become a business tool in its current form. This isn’t visionary; it’s a solution looking for a problem. This is what you get when you put the director of Windows in charge of Xbox. All they know is their traditional market so they might as well try pounding that square peg into the round hole.”

This may sound like it is unrelated because it is commenting on different Microsoft products but is typical of the information quality that comes from Microsoft. Microsoft simply proposes different sales pitches, which because of their size are picked up and repeated by the business and technology media, regardless of whether they have any basis in reality.

Consulting and Support

Microsoft primarily relies upon partners and mid-market consulting companies to implement its software. The quality of this consulting is too varied is make any definitive comment upon, but there is little doubt that the value is poorer than software vendors that provide their own consultants.

Internal Efficiency

Microsoft internally is highly bureaucratic and inefficient, as well as one of the most political companies in the software industry. Microsoft has adopted a rapid reassignment approach to career management, so employees are routinely moved into new areas they know nothing about.

Microsoft is essentially a software conglomerate and lacks a vision of what it should be, aside from being opportunistic and going after every market that it can. This is shown in other areas outside of enterprise software such as cell phones where it never had a compelling product, and with their Xbox, which while now popular has been a money pit for them.

As with other super large monopolistic software vendors, the employee satisfaction is high, however, the type of employee who works at Microsoft is attracted to the stability, and most are not under the illusion that they make much of a contribution to technology or that their ideas will be listened to. Microsoft’s hiring practices and management practices are a recipe for bringing in conformist employees. Microsoft provides a stable job in an industry, which is quite unstable.

Innovation

Microsoft has had decades to develop an efficient and usable operating system in Windows – all while receiving the most money ever allocated to any operating system, and they still have not been able to do it. They released Windows 8, had 6 years to copy the iOS and were still unable to pull it off.

Microsoft is a company that lives in a bubble regarding its degree of innovation. They are sensitive on this point, which is why suppliers to Microsoft are counseled to speak only about Microsoft products when visiting the company if they plan to make a sale. Microsoft has never been an innovative company. This is true, even though as with IBM they are on a yearly basis a top patent producer (number 5 and number 1 respectively in 2013). As with IBM, Microsoft’s large number of patents may have something more to do with how the company has the resources to invest in the patent process – which is expensive, and Microsoft’s weak actual innovation compared to its patent ownership also says something about software patents generally, which are by many patent experts not considered particularly legitimate. It also says something about our patent system that it can be gamed by large companies like Microsoft that have the resources to put into patent applications creating the illusion of innovation. As a counterpoint, none of the best of breed software vendors that we analyze, that are actually the most innovative companies have very many patents.

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