Even you, Brutus? Dick Brass, former vice president, explains the lack of innovation within Microsoft

In an opinion piece written for the The New York Times, Dick Brass, former vice president of Microsoft, finally clarified the cause for something we all already understand (but we avoid speaking out loud to avoid being called fanboys): Microsoft has not innovated for a long time.

Coming from someone who has already worked on the beast's stomach and (more importantly) cheers intensely for the company's success, something heavy.

First, let's review the theme.

Just look at any branch in which the Redmond giant invests today and you will see that there is no innovation ”, but some compensation is successful and the company runs after it.

The Zune was an attempt to reach the iPod.

The Xbox (360) was a way of hitchhiking with the PlayStation fever (2 and 3) and was successful, yes, but it is far from a paradigm shift.

Even Project Natal, one of the most amazing things that came out of Redmond in recent times, is nothing more than a reaction to what Nintendo started with the Wii and it will still cost a little to reach the market.

I won't even mention Windows Mobile or Microsoft S stores.

Don't talk to me about the Courier, because it's just pure vaporware until proven otherwise.

Why that? How can a company that has everything to be at the forefront to skate so much and limit itself to follow the competitors? Unlike other companies, Microsoft has never had a real innovation system.

Some of my colleagues comment that she actually developed a system to undermine innovation, said Brass.

He then brought the example of the ClearType font smoothing system that I loved when I was still using Windows XP.

Created by the Brass team to make it easier to read on LCD screens and thus leverage the ebook market, the system has gone by without seeing the light of day simply because other teams within Microsoft felt threatened by its success.

What happened seems like a joke, so ridiculous:

Engineers in the Windows group falsely claimed that (ClearType) would make the screen short when certain colors were used.

The head of the Office product division said the feature left everything unfocused and gave a headache.

The vice president of portable products was more direct: he would support ClearType and use it, but only if I transferred the program and programmers to control it.

As a result, despite having been publicly acclaimed, internally promoted and granted patents, a decade passed before a fully operational version of ClearType arrived on Windows.

But the worst was what happened to the tablet PC developed in 2001: the vice president in charge of the Office decided that he did not like the concept and therefore would not proceed with the project to adapt the programs of the suite for use with touchscreens.

As in this November 2002 article from BusinessWeek (spoiler: Brass asked 20 engineers to proceed with the project and received only 6).

Not everything is to blame for internal feuds, however: the addiction to relying on software development with large profit margins without taking risks with the creation of innovative hardware would also have prevented Microsoft from shining, according to Brass.

Alm, of course, timing terrible of some products (like the Zune).

In the face of such public humiliation, it is clear that someone inside the company should respond.

Frank Shaw stated in a post on The Official Microsoft Blog that we measure our work by its broad impact, adding that we innovate in scale, not in speed (it took a while, but today ClearType is on about a billion PCs around the world).

In short, he denied nothing, just tried to shift the focus from Brass's statements.

fun hitting Microsoft today? , I admit sosumi.

But there is no way to react differently to a company that presents a foreign netbook behind a touchscreen as if it were a huge innovation.

Detail: the forecast of availability of this paradigm changer only in 2010 good luck to guess when in 2010.

If the Courier turns into a real product, made of plastic, metal, glass, silicon and bits, we may see the Redmond giant innovate, in fact it may even be that it unveils the iPad, which would be fantastic.

Until then, Microsoft is in danger of being trapped forever in a dispute with the Queen of Hearts: running as hard as it can just to stay in place.

(tip from Alexandre Novarro)

Remember to live, and I can't get enough of watching this video:

(youtube) http://www.youtube/watch?v=N-2C2gb6ws8 (/ youtube)