Sunday, March 18, 2007

Microsoft Sucks, Top Blogger Says.

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MICROSOFT’s formerly tame blogger has bitten the software company that made his name when it employed him as a “technology evangelist”.

Robert Scoble writes the Scobleizer web log, one of the most-read sources of technology commentary on the internet.

He owes his status to the three years he spent at Microsoft, where he was given free rein to comment on the company’s affairs from the inside. The Economist magazine has credited Scoble with playing a significant role in softening the software giant’s former reputation for monopolistic bullying.

In the past, Scoble has tended to be sympathetic about Microsoft’s failings. However, he was provoked into stinging criticism last week after a series of triumphalist remarks, including some disparaging comments about Google made by Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive.

At a “global summit” of its most-valued software developers, Microsoft repeatedly declared that it would “win” in search and other parts of its Windows Live internet strategy.

“The words are empty,” Scoble responded. “Microsoft’s internet execution sucks (on the whole). Its search sucks. Its advertising sucks. If that’s ‘in it to win’, then I don’t get it.”

He continued: “Microsoft isn’t going away. Don’t get me wrong. They have record profits, record sales, all that. But on the inter-net? Come on.

“Microsoft: stop the talk. Ship a better search, a better advertising system than Google, a better hosting service than Amazon, a better cross-platform web development ecosystem than Adobe, and get some services out there that are innovative.”

Scoble’s comments reflect wider concerns — shared by some Microsoft insiders — that the poorly understood Windows Live initiative is failing to make the impact expected when it was unveiled 18 months ago.

Windows Live was pitched as the centrepiece of Microsoft’s response to Google and other companies offering web-based services. It was seen to be a key focus for Ray Ozzie, who has replaced Bill Gates as Microsoft’s chief software architect.

Talking to Stanford University business school students in California, Ballmer said Google had built only one good business and “everything else is sort of cute” — in other words largely irrelevant.

This also provoked Scoble’s ire. “You’re up against a formidable competitor and one you’ve never seen before that has some real, significant weapons that you can’t deal with.”

LiveSide, a website that tracks the development of Windows Live, is among those who are unimpressed. “Windows Live isn’t making much of a dent in the marketplace,” it says on its Our View page. “It’s a nontopic. Market research shows Live Search to be losing share if anything, and certainly not gaining.

“What Windows Live lacks, specifically, is an identity. No one can describe it, no one from Microsoft has even tried.”

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