Microsoft marketing mistakes

Two posts caught my eye this morning:

1) Warner Crocker wrote: "When Success Breeds Contempt: The UMPC Fiasco."
2) Sam Purtill wrote me an email and also posted this in my comments: "Most of the Web developers out there utterly hate Microsoft." and "However, you guys need to win back the developers if you want [Windows Live] to succeed." In an email to me he asked "Does Microsoft have a plan or an initiative to win back web developers? Everyone hates you guys in our industry, and MS doesn't seem to be doing anything about it. You guys come across as cocky, monopolistic, and I've even heard some people call your company a form of communism. Please don't disregard my email, I will definitely regard what you have to say in a reply."

This stuff hurts, but if we don't pay attention shame on us.

One huge advantage? These guys are still talking with us. Someone who is willing to engage usually is looking for some response that tells them that we're listening and looking for a conversation (yeah, there are exceptions, but in life I've found they are actually pretty rare).

This morning I spoke with Shel Israel to the MeshForum in San Francisco and we talked about just these kinds of issues. That corporations now have the ability to listen and learn that they never had before. From a global audience.

I showed off how I use NewsGator to watch what anyone in the world says about "geek" "software" "Linux" "Apple" "Microsoft" among a variety of other topics. You don't need to be a famous blogger to be found anymore.

That's my plan.

Now, what's Microsoft's plan? How about listen to the customers and make better products for them?

Business isn't rocket science. Do that and eventually people who hate your products, think your company sucks, will start to notice.

Oh, and Sam, there's something else we can do to help win your love: help YOU win. My wife taught me this one. If I'm always selfish and don't think of her needs she eventually turns cold and obstinate. Bring her flowers and take out the trash (really small things if you think about it) she notices and warms up.

Is business that simple? Yes, it is.

Sam is just telling us we haven't been paying attention to him. Shame on us if we don't get the message.

86 thoughts on “Microsoft marketing mistakes

  1. It has come back to bite them in various ways, such as claims that Vista has ripped off features of OS X,

    So MS was talking about.. um.. security before 2001.. talking about search.. stability… talking about desktop apps (widgets)?

    MS was talking while Apple was shipping? sure.. impressive

  2. It has come back to bite them in various ways, such as claims that Vista has ripped off features of OS X,

    So MS was talking about.. um.. security before 2001.. talking about search.. stability… talking about desktop apps (widgets)?

    MS was talking while Apple was shipping? sure.. impressive

  3. @ Bill

    I was just at a conference where a guy spoke about Longhorn and some about Vista. Many of the features that have been cut have actually been delayed. Some have been removed as not practical, but many they just didn’t think could be done well in time for release. So they decided instead of pushing things back more and more, they would delay them, with the intention of adding many of them in future releases. Some will be ready for SP1, thus adding them back in for no extra cost. They even have a schedule for releasing of service packs and future OSes.

    Yeah, they bit off more than they could chew. The delays have been long. But I think they are trying to change that. It has come back to bite them in various ways, such as claims that Vista has ripped off features of OS X, when these features were announced for Vista pre-OS X. Yes, that shows how long we’ve been waiting, but I’d rather it be sent later, with less bugs and less features, than earlier with a ton of features that don’t quite work.

    Could be worse. Could be Duke Nukem Forever :)

  4. @ Bill

    I was just at a conference where a guy spoke about Longhorn and some about Vista. Many of the features that have been cut have actually been delayed. Some have been removed as not practical, but many they just didn’t think could be done well in time for release. So they decided instead of pushing things back more and more, they would delay them, with the intention of adding many of them in future releases. Some will be ready for SP1, thus adding them back in for no extra cost. They even have a schedule for releasing of service packs and future OSes.

    Yeah, they bit off more than they could chew. The delays have been long. But I think they are trying to change that. It has come back to bite them in various ways, such as claims that Vista has ripped off features of OS X, when these features were announced for Vista pre-OS X. Yes, that shows how long we’ve been waiting, but I’d rather it be sent later, with less bugs and less features, than earlier with a ton of features that don’t quite work.

    Could be worse. Could be Duke Nukem Forever :)

  5. @24 – Josh:

    “Bill you are contradicting yourself. You say people should be fired for shipping products with bugs, then you say people should be fired for delaying releases. Which is it?”

    I think your oversimplifying my argument. Vista was announced years ago with lots of features. A scant few remain now. In the meantime, there was Vista Reset – thousands of developers work, over three years, thrown away.

    Granted, software sometimes ships with some features not complete or removed. Not huge tracts of features.. And sometimes software ships late. Months, perhaps. Not years.

    Vista. How many years late now ? What kind of percentage of features are left ?

    So – who’s in charge of this mess, and why cant they build plans and timescales that even they can keep to ?

    If they cant – and MS has demonstrated time and time again that they cant get this bit of software delivery management right – then the person responsible should have consequences for their (lack of) actions.

    It happens in any other organisation. Why not MS? Is MS some sort of special case where management isnt measured ?

    Perhaps this is why folks like Mini-MSFT have so much to feed on. A middle management-layer overpopulated with people who cant deliver.

    And upper management refusal to grow their business.

    Hope this clarifies my point.

    —* Bill

  6. @24 – Josh:

    “Bill you are contradicting yourself. You say people should be fired for shipping products with bugs, then you say people should be fired for delaying releases. Which is it?”

    I think your oversimplifying my argument. Vista was announced years ago with lots of features. A scant few remain now. In the meantime, there was Vista Reset – thousands of developers work, over three years, thrown away.

    Granted, software sometimes ships with some features not complete or removed. Not huge tracts of features.. And sometimes software ships late. Months, perhaps. Not years.

    Vista. How many years late now ? What kind of percentage of features are left ?

    So – who’s in charge of this mess, and why cant they build plans and timescales that even they can keep to ?

    If they cant – and MS has demonstrated time and time again that they cant get this bit of software delivery management right – then the person responsible should have consequences for their (lack of) actions.

    It happens in any other organisation. Why not MS? Is MS some sort of special case where management isnt measured ?

    Perhaps this is why folks like Mini-MSFT have so much to feed on. A middle management-layer overpopulated with people who cant deliver.

    And upper management refusal to grow their business.

    Hope this clarifies my point.

    —* Bill

  7. @Molly
    I hope you are management or something like that in MS. Hope to God your job description does not involve anything that needs logical thought.

    If you knew that there are such employees in every company, you should not have made your earlier statement that everyone was happy in MS land. The people posting to Mini microsoft are anonymous because people like you would fire them if they wrote in under their real names. And people on, not in, channel 9 are praising MS, so they use their real names. What’s your point?

    And its not true that posts on mini microsoft have the same language. Anyone can google for it and see clearly its from people with different styles and people with inside knowledge on how things work in la-la land. But if you were a good manager, you would do something to stop sites like mini microsoft instead of doing PR damage control and hope noone notices.

  8. @Molly
    I hope you are management or something like that in MS. Hope to God your job description does not involve anything that needs logical thought.

    If you knew that there are such employees in every company, you should not have made your earlier statement that everyone was happy in MS land. The people posting to Mini microsoft are anonymous because people like you would fire them if they wrote in under their real names. And people on, not in, channel 9 are praising MS, so they use their real names. What’s your point?

    And its not true that posts on mini microsoft have the same language. Anyone can google for it and see clearly its from people with different styles and people with inside knowledge on how things work in la-la land. But if you were a good manager, you would do something to stop sites like mini microsoft instead of doing PR damage control and hope noone notices.

  9. Katie Delahaye Paine, how was Microsoft an “evil empire” in 1986? Wasn’t your Lotus the evil empire back then? ;-)

  10. Katie Delahaye Paine, how was Microsoft an “evil empire” in 1986? Wasn’t your Lotus the evil empire back then? ;-)

  11. @H

    Yes, I’m aware of miniMSFT. I’m also aware that all large companies have disgruntled employees (they just have the good taste not to air their laundry in public), I’m also aware that there’s no way to determine how many people post to miniMicrosoft. The posts are anonymous, and many of them have the exact same writing style, so it could be (and likely is) a small group of folks posting over and over.

    I’ll take the the hundreds of Microsoft employees that have appeared in channel9 videos over anonymous posts to miniMicrosoft (many of which aren’t even by Microsoft employees, but by those pretending to be such as well as slashdot fanboys; MiniMicrosoft himself admitted as much when he turned on comment moderation a few weeks ago).

  12. @H

    Yes, I’m aware of miniMSFT. I’m also aware that all large companies have disgruntled employees (they just have the good taste not to air their laundry in public), I’m also aware that there’s no way to determine how many people post to miniMicrosoft. The posts are anonymous, and many of them have the exact same writing style, so it could be (and likely is) a small group of folks posting over and over.

    I’ll take the the hundreds of Microsoft employees that have appeared in channel9 videos over anonymous posts to miniMicrosoft (many of which aren’t even by Microsoft employees, but by those pretending to be such as well as slashdot fanboys; MiniMicrosoft himself admitted as much when he turned on comment moderation a few weeks ago).

  13. I’m not a developer, but I’ve thought of Microsoft as the evil empire ever since I was VP of Corp. Com at Lotus in 1986. But I met you at the New Comms Forum in March and was sufficiently impressed and have been going to bed with “Naked Conversations” ever since. Okay,so I’m a slow reader. But I have to say that after reading your blog and the book, I may still hate many of the things you’ve done in the past, and I’m not wild about your software, but I have been saying much nicer things about Microsoft lately — and have been advocating your book to everyone I meet. So you’ve made at least one(and I suspect many many) converts.

  14. I’m not a developer, but I’ve thought of Microsoft as the evil empire ever since I was VP of Corp. Com at Lotus in 1986. But I met you at the New Comms Forum in March and was sufficiently impressed and have been going to bed with “Naked Conversations” ever since. Okay,so I’m a slow reader. But I have to say that after reading your blog and the book, I may still hate many of the things you’ve done in the past, and I’m not wild about your software, but I have been saying much nicer things about Microsoft lately — and have been advocating your book to everyone I meet. So you’ve made at least one(and I suspect many many) converts.

  15. @debp
    I think you are lying. Reason being, you put out an app with 9000 pages in 7 months with 7 devs. That’s 6 pages a day per dev. I would hate to be the QA on that thing. That’s not counting business logic, DB’s etc. That’s not the point though. I have worked for companies who do millions of transactions per day in the insurance, travel, education domain. Selling your app for a mil does not prove anything.

    @Molly

    Mini microsoft

  16. @debp
    I think you are lying. Reason being, you put out an app with 9000 pages in 7 months with 7 devs. That’s 6 pages a day per dev. I would hate to be the QA on that thing. That’s not counting business logic, DB’s etc. That’s not the point though. I have worked for companies who do millions of transactions per day in the insurance, travel, education domain. Selling your app for a mil does not prove anything.

    @Molly

    Mini microsoft

  17. its microsoft theory and practice that makes us hate you so much. The theory (the marketing hype) vs. the reality of what’s actually shipping. Remember how whidbey was going to ship in june 2004? so the hype machine was prepping a full 6 months ahead about all the cool features. june 2004? uh sorry. we arent going to ship now until june 2005, but the freaking articles in all the mags/websites just kept going and going and going and going. by the time june 2005 i was over whidbey (especially since I was waiting now until november 2005!) I had seen so many articles about what was there, what had been removed, what was going to be so great in 2.0 that I just tuned out. my MSDN U kit from november last year is still unopened and unloved.

    my manager had seen so many articles on 2.0 that he started asking me why I wasnt using these things to solve my hard problems. I kept saying “I Cant” its still beta and we have not GoLive license yet. this went on for over a year.

    MS needs to get over the Uber release habit and get back to the MSDN tradition of shipping something complete once a quarter.
    At work we are asked to solve our problems in internet time and not having tools to do so is a problem – we seem to all carry our browser compatibility back of tricks – thats is just ASS. My boss doesnt care about what tools we use (and his very willing to pay for them) if the site goes live and the apps solve our business problem. if MS cant get with the program we’ll (the developer community) seek another technology and supplier – ruby on rails for example.

    What good is talking about IIS 7.0 and how great its going to be when it ships someday (2008 is our current office pool bet) when we got angst and issues with IIS 6.0 that hasnt seen a refresh really since 2003 when it shipped out the door.

    –/\/\ike

  18. its microsoft theory and practice that makes us hate you so much. The theory (the marketing hype) vs. the reality of what’s actually shipping. Remember how whidbey was going to ship in june 2004? so the hype machine was prepping a full 6 months ahead about all the cool features. june 2004? uh sorry. we arent going to ship now until june 2005, but the freaking articles in all the mags/websites just kept going and going and going and going. by the time june 2005 i was over whidbey (especially since I was waiting now until november 2005!) I had seen so many articles about what was there, what had been removed, what was going to be so great in 2.0 that I just tuned out. my MSDN U kit from november last year is still unopened and unloved.

    my manager had seen so many articles on 2.0 that he started asking me why I wasnt using these things to solve my hard problems. I kept saying “I Cant” its still beta and we have not GoLive license yet. this went on for over a year.

    MS needs to get over the Uber release habit and get back to the MSDN tradition of shipping something complete once a quarter.
    At work we are asked to solve our problems in internet time and not having tools to do so is a problem – we seem to all carry our browser compatibility back of tricks – thats is just ASS. My boss doesnt care about what tools we use (and his very willing to pay for them) if the site goes live and the apps solve our business problem. if MS cant get with the program we’ll (the developer community) seek another technology and supplier – ruby on rails for example.

    What good is talking about IIS 7.0 and how great its going to be when it ships someday (2008 is our current office pool bet) when we got angst and issues with IIS 6.0 that hasnt seen a refresh really since 2003 when it shipped out the door.

    –//ike

  19. Google has started paying for referrals to its google pack. When will Microsoft start paying me for using IE ? :)

  20. Google has started paying for referrals to its google pack. When will Microsoft start paying me for using IE ? :)

  21. Sam: “People I know that work at Google absolutely love it, and if I ever had a chance at getting hired there I’d jump all over it.”

    Sure, Google employees like working at Google, but Microsoft employees like working there too (as evidence, I give the huge number of channel9.msdn.com videos featuring employees showing off their work).

    BTW, not everyone is happy to work at Google. Borland/Delphi legend Danny Thorpe quit Google after just four months and went to Microsoft, specifically Windows Live.

  22. Sam: “People I know that work at Google absolutely love it, and if I ever had a chance at getting hired there I’d jump all over it.”

    Sure, Google employees like working at Google, but Microsoft employees like working there too (as evidence, I give the huge number of channel9.msdn.com videos featuring employees showing off their work).

    BTW, not everyone is happy to work at Google. Borland/Delphi legend Danny Thorpe quit Google after just four months and went to Microsoft, specifically Windows Live.

  23. I don’t know if you guys have seen this but you’ll get a kick out of it

    explorerdestroyer.com

    killbillsbrowser.com

    Google’s giving every referrer $1/person that downloads firefox with the Google toolbar…

    Sam

  24. I don’t know if you guys have seen this but you’ll get a kick out of it

    explorerdestroyer.com

    killbillsbrowser.com

    Google’s giving every referrer $1/person that downloads firefox with the Google toolbar…

    Sam

  25. Brian Shapiro,

    Mozilla hacks? Now that’s what I call an oxymoron… Almost as much of an oxymoron as Microsoft Works
    :P

    Sam

  26. Brian Shapiro,

    Mozilla hacks? Now that’s what I call an oxymoron… Almost as much of an oxymoron as Microsoft Works
    :P

    Sam

  27. All of you guys have gotten way off the topic of why this post was originally written. I wrote to Robert about their new AdCenter product. I don’t care about IE vs Firefox (even though firefox destroys it and poops on the ashes :P) or who uses what technologies. I’m just saying, when it comes to web developers, the majority of us ARE those 1% nerds, and the most of us DO use Google and are proponents of open source. Yeah I’m sure there are those corporate developers that are into Microsoft, I’m not saying that EVERY developer hates MS.

    What it comes down to is if Microsoft is looking to win with their new AdCenter, they aren’t going to need the average internet users. They’re going to need us web developers, because we have the most major say in what is going to be implemented in a site. WE are the ones that get to decide… Even if a client told me to use AdCenter it would only take me 30 seconds to convince him that Google’s AdSense was much better. If Microsoft thinks their new product is going to take a big chunk of out Google’s market share, they’re wrong and they have a lot of work to do to win us developers back.

    Sam

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