20th November 2012
When you pursue a business model based on secrecy rent and control of your customers, you must become the kind of organization that an obsession with secrecy and control requires. Eventually, this will smother your ability to do decent engineering as surely as water flows downhill and the sun rises in the morning.
This is why Microsoft looks so doomed and desperate. Yes, Steve Ballmer is a colossal fool who has never met a strategic decision he couldn’t bungle, but in an important way that is symptom rather than cause. Dysfunctional leaders arise from dysfunctional cultures; the problem behind Ballmer is that Microsoft’s culture is broken, and the problem behind that is that the monopolistic/authoritarian goals around which Microsoft’s culture was constructed are incompatible with any other kind of excellence.
This explains why Bill Gates and most of his henchmen are natural Democrats. Read any of the many books by ex-Microsoft Employees regarding what they dislike about working for Microsoft, and the complaints are eerily similar to the complaints of people who work for the government a while and then just can’t stand it any more.
Further evidence that Microsoft products resemble the product of government programs here.