Sunday, February 10, 2008

Microsoft: Why is Quality So Hard?

You would think that with Microsoft bidding for Yahoo, I would be writing about my opinion of it (it's good if they can execute extremely well). Instead, I want to reflect on how we deal with such lower quality expectations with Microsoft dominated products. Today, at the San Jose Tech Museum, a number of exhibits were down due to application freezes, execution errors, or just the blue screen of death. This combines with my daily battle with Outlook - every time I don't clean out my Inbox, my whole computer freezes. Applications endlessly need to be restarted.

Why is this so difficult? You would think that a company that has been in business for 23 years would have found a way to make it's product bulletproof. If you talk to people in the company, there is a preponderance of brilliant people. Yet, after multiple iterations of the OS and Office application set, there are continuous quality and performance issues. Microsoft could tell the hardware folks exactly what they want. They could tell the peripheral and component makers exactly how they want products to interface with the OS. Yet, for whatever reason they don't do it well. Here's one example: my son has an XBox which we recently threw away because it crashed and will not start up again. Microsoft controls every aspect of that box. Yet his old (and new) Playstation keep motoring on.

Even upgrades confuse people. Our CFO is an Excel expert yet he has lost functionality with Excel 2007. On Outlook 2007, I still can't find the Picture toolbar to crop images. You'd think an upgrade would give you more multimedia functionality.

Now as an SEM agency, we love Microsoft because they provide an alternative network for search and advertising content, even though we suffer highly functional, low reliability interface (everyone in SEM knows what I'm talking about). However, I'd ask the good smart folks at Microsoft to spend their energy on 2 things - reliability and performance. That would be good for all of us and truly cement their hold on computing.

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