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Microsoft Turning Corners

Since returning to the company a little over a year ago, I have had this sense that things are looking up

Mini-MSFT is back, with a post about Microsoft turning The Corner.  It’s interesting to contrast his point of view with that of MG Siegler over at ParisLemon.  Given my own perception of  Valley bias on the part of Siegler (he is one of the new voices of TechCrunch after all), it’s great to see that we’re making progress which is being met with receptivity and not suspicion.  Further, everyone is focused on the most important beneficiaries - customers.

I have to admit, since returning to the company a little over a year ago, I have had this sense that things are looking up.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s no shortage of frustrations for me, but that’s to be expected when you come from a tiny company where you were the founder and CEO to a large company where you a cog in a wheel.

With the new fiscal year, I have a new role and a new team, and I plan on making liberal use of my training and experiences in constrained resource environments to do some things that will harken back to the mojo days of the late 90s and IE/Netscape goodness.

I know I posted a joke leaked screenshot of Chrome OS, and many people found it funny, but I firmly believe that this pre-announcement was the absolute dumbest thing that Google could have done.  First, they are starting to show a trend of pre-announcing products, with ever increasing time between announce and availability.  You could see this with Java support in App Engine, but then Wave, and now Chrome.  What are they thinking?  FUD worked 10 years ago, but not anymore.

Second, operating systems are our thing.  We have *YEARS* of experience building and delivering operating systems to market.  If it we so simple as to slap a pretty face on a Linux distro, someone would  have taken us out a long time ago.  There’s a long road of tattered carcasses that have tried to be “the next great OS.”  I use a Macbook at home for personal work, and enjoy OS X, and generally regard it as a great operating system.  Even with the Apple Fan Boy magic, they are marginally high single digit market share.  Ouch.

Third, and this is the important one, Google has given us a rally cry.  Whereas you could make the case that legions within the company felt that Ballmer’s quest to topple Google in search was Quixotic at best, no one, and I mean no one, comes into our house and pushes us around.  Expect to see the company galvanize around this new encroachment.  Expect a wave of pride, and something akin to, dare I say, nationalism, sweep through the company.  To pre-announce a thing a scant few months before Win7 goes out the door is going to bite them in the rear.  Win7 hasn’t had a bad review yet, and people are very excited to get it.  I have been running it on all my personal and work machines (other than the Macbook) for months, and it’s awesome.

We’ve rounded the corner, for sure.  We’ve rounded it and rejoined the race.  We were off in the woods for a while, but we’re back in the race and have a lot of power in the engine.  The next few years are going to be incredible.  I’m excited to work at the company, but more excited as a consumer who is going to benefit from Google, Apple and Microsoft all going at it hammer and tongs for phones, search and operating systems.

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More Stories By Brandon Watson

Brandon Watson is Director for Windows Phone 7. He specifically focuses on developers and the developer platform. He rejoined Microsoft in 2008 after nearly a decade on Wall Street and running successful start-ups. He has both an engineering degree and an economics degree from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as an MBA from The Wharton School of Business, and blogs at www.manyniches.com.

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