Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

A few years ago I received a lift home from a colleague of mine after a very pleasant dinner. It was a windy New England fall night, the red and gold coloured leaves where swirling around as our headlights picked them out in the road ahead. During the journey home I mused, “could you name one thing that Microsoft has innovated”? This might seem an unusual thing to raise, however I was genuinely interested as my driver had spent fourteen years at that illustrious company. I was stumped and so was my friend. Here were some of the things we batted about.

  • HTML Browser – in the early days of the Web there were a few, remember Cello and Mosaic, however it was Netscape that innovated the browser so that it became popular and usable. Microsoft was initially very dismissive until they realised that it potentially threatened their livelihood and out sprung Internet Explorer.
  • MP3 Player – again there were many initially on the market, but it wasn’t until the iPod that they became really cool. Wasn’t the iPod invested by Micro … no, no, it was other computer company, Apple. Hmmm, Zune, isn’t exactly cool and doesn’t roll off the tongue. I never hear children demanding a Zune for their birthday, “Mummy, mummy can I have a Zune?”. At this point, we best not mention the iPhone …
  • Windowing Operating Systems – ok it was an idea perfected at Parc Place by Xerox, which Apple pinched for the Lisa and then the Mac, but it was years later that Microsoft released Windows and it’s been clunky and quirky ever since.
  • Next there is DOS, the first PC operating system, it wasn’t even developed by Microsoft originally but licensed from another company when IBM came calling for a PC operating system. Pity because there were much better rivals. Raise your hand if you had heard of CP/M, or better still CP/M-86. What a frustrating world it was to be forced to limit your file names to eight characters plus a dot and a file extension. How daft!
  • Games Console – Xbox 360 – if I had a billion or so dollars to burn I could come out with a pretty nifty games console – but it was a market built by the likes of Sony and Nintendo.
  • Search Engines – remember Alta Vista before Google, now we have Bing, how me too!

I could go on and on, the spreadsheet, no, the word processor, no, drawing packages, no, the database, no …

You would think it would be easy to recall something from such a successful company, but given its size shouldn’t innovation be raining down like those leaves off the trees?

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