Microsoft's Failure to Innovate

Bruce Ediger

A few folks have asked for cases where Microsoft has failed to innovate. I think that M$'s recent "discovery" of the Internet is enough to show that M$ can't innovate, but can only imitate, because everything from Internet Explorer to DNS to HTTP has roots in or derives directly from the academic/freeware/Unix Internet.

In case the example of "the Internet" sneaking up on Microsoft seems vague and ill defined, have a look at these articles:
Alive & Well
Crushed by Microsoft

These are articles that document that Microsoft does, in fact, fail to innovate, and attempts to stifle innovation by use of its monopoly power1. The first article is a sort of insider account of how M$ is forcing DirectX on people. The second article is an account of an innovator who was squashed by monopoly power1.

Even the Gartner Group realizes that Microsoft doesn't innovate.

Repeatedly pushed by Gartner Group analyst Scott Winkler regarding criticisms that Microsoft doesn't do anything innovative but merely takes existing technologies and ideas and puts them, quite successfully, into its own business model, Gates seemed evasive. Winkler asked Gates to list specific innovations and when the Microsoft chairman and chief executive officer said that his company was the first to separate operating system development from hardware development, Winkler cut him off.
"You didn't innovate that," the analyst said, noting that Microsoft obtained DOS externally.

1 -  Note that M$ only has "monopoly power", not a monopoly. Since some tiny fraction of people still sell something other than M$ products, M$ doesn't have a text-book, 100% market share, even in the "desktop computer operating system" market.

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