Dec 212010

While I’ve got my Microsoft haymaker working, I want to spend a minute on Microsoft’s leadership. No, not the fat, bald and sweaty leadership, but the people who provide the company with their strategic bearing, who lend the deep expertise of their respective roles as innovators and captains of industry to guide the long-term growth of the company. Ladies and gentlemen: Microsoft’s current Board of Directors:

Steven A. Ballmer – Chief Executive Officer, Microsoft Corporation
William H. Gates III – Chairman, Microsoft Corporation

Dina Dublon – Former Chief Financial Officer, JPMorgan Chase
Charles H. Noski – Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Bank of America Corporation

Because nothing inspires respect and screams innovation to shareholders like having some bankers on your board – especially in this era of bailouts and all the goodwill that has engendered. I guess when you’re a company that’s as universally reviled as Microsoft, your BoD leadership should reflect it.

David F. Marquardt – General Partner, August Capital

Random Silicon Valley VC. Wikipedia’s minor entry cuts and pastes his August Capital bio and references it with a broken link. Major player, obviously.

Dr. Helmut Panke – Former Chairman of the Board of Management, BMW AG

In my informal survey, people that drive BMWs are both shitty drivers and assholes. Watch one of their ads and tell me you don’t want to punch someone immediately afterward.

Raymond V. Gilmartin – Former Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Merck & Co., Inc.

Wow – big name there. Oops – turns out he was “the Vioxx guy”. By sheer coincidence, Gilmartin acquired the additional title of “Former” shortly after the Vioxx scandal broke and Merck’s stock tanked. Fortunately for Microsoft, they don’t make drugs and their stock is already flaccid. He no doubt brings valuable experience from his numerous beatdowns at the hands of litigators and government counsel to a company that periodically gets ravaged by both private litigators and the federal government.

Maria M. Klawe – President, Harvey Mudd College

Helps to have an academic on your Board. Thankfully, Microsoft was able to land one with an awesome pedigree.

Reed Hastings – Founder, Chairman and CEO, Netflix, Inc.

There’s your explanation for the solitary mainstream use of Silverlight. Fuckhead.

They say that a company’s Board of Directors is a direct reflection of that company’s values. This is no doubt the case in Redmond.

 Posted by at 2:36 pm  Tagged with:
Dec 212010

Just in time for Santa, Microsoft is reporting initial “sales” figures for its Windows 7 Phones. From the Microsoft News Center (when it come to self-serving propaganda, Microsoft’s own press is there!):

“We are pleased that phone manufacturers sold over 1.5 million phones in the first six weeks, which helps build customer momentum and retail presence.”

*cough* Bullshit! *cough*

Let’s step back from the sentence that Microsoft wants you to read, because there’s no way in hell 1.5 million of these phones are being used.

“…(these are) phones being bought and stocked by mobile operators and retailers on their way to customers.” Or maybe “being forced on the suckers who are contractually bound to sling our phones, and on their way to an inch-thick layer of dust followed quickly by a call to ‘Cash for Phones'”?

The best part is that Microsoft has to admit that these million and a half phones are in retailers’ hands. Back in the salad years, they’d actually try to make people believe they were in the hands of consumers, like with the XBox. Seeing them have to fall back on burying the truth as opposed to outright lying makes me miss the old Microsoft a little.

Dec 202010

According to the New York Times, hardware manufacturers who had planned to showcase GoogleTV devices are being asked by Google to sit out this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Apparently, the company didn’t feel that the tagline “Watch YouTube in your Living Room!” was enough to inspire awe in the booths this year. The move by Google shouldn’t come as a surprise to manufacturers. Their “catch and release” operating systems policy – the one that lets Android be defiled by carriers’ and manufacturers’ crapware and UI overlays –  means they shouldn’t rely too heavily on them if they’re on some kind of “release schedule” or however it is they make their money. An analyst from Forrester quoted in the article nails it:

“Google as a company is not a particularly partner-friendly or partner-focused company,” said James L. McQuivey.

Translation: the timing of your product launches are not our problem. If Microsoft is the abusive spouse whose bed you set on fire, Google is the apathetic partner who ignores you into submission.

 Posted by at 11:52 am  Tagged with:
Dec 092010

In a bizarre turn of events, an apparently intoxicated man crashed the stage of the D: Dive into Mobile conference (aside: possibly worst conference name ever) claiming to be RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis. Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, who attempted to humor the man until the authorities arrived, staged a mock interview, during which he incoherently fielded questions about the future of the Blackberry platform while poking furiously at what he claimed to be RIM’s future iPad competitor, the PlayBook.

UPDATE: apparently the person speaking at the conference was Mike Lazaridis. Woo boy. Tip to Mike: when Walt Mossberg prefaces a follow-up question with “I’m a little confused”, that’s equivalent to hearing the music start during your Academy Awards acceptance speech. You really need to consider getting the fuck off the stage. Engadget and AllThingsD have the blow-by-blow unfolding of Mike’s personal train wreck.

Dec 012010

Paul Thurrott reminds me a lot of Charlie, the main character from “Flowers for Algernon”. If you’re one of the 8 people who didn’t have this short-story-turned-novel inflicted on you in the 7th grade – or never made it to 7th grade – the story is an allegory about how life is enriched through the acquisition of power (in this case intelligence) and its subsequent decline when the lights go out. Through an experimental operation, Charlie temporarily acquires super-intelligence, transforming him from retarded (the technical term, not the nonchalant descriptive term TMA uses to describe Windows UI elements) menial worker to someone with an almost godlike level of consciousness. Written as a series of journal entries, Charlie’s progress is tracked from retarded to super genius – and back again – after the effects of the augmentation procedure dissolve.

The thin analogy here is that Thurrott’s entire career is derived from Microsoft’s artificial ascendancy through its theft of intellectual property and abuse of monopoly power, followed by an inevitable and seemingly never-ending fall. As long as Microsoft’s star shone brightly, Thurrott’s career blossomed. He was a speed dial call for several tech news outlets, enjoying numerous television appearances, paid speaking engagements, podcasts – you name it, Thurrott did it. But as the source of his prolificacy was exposed again and again as a company as likely to produce cold fusion as anything remotely attractive to customers in a competitive market, his defense of Redmond  became evermore nonsensical screed, sounding more like it came from someone who needed to wear protective gear to keep from hurting themselves than from a respected member of the tech journalism community. Some selected gems from the mouth/fingertips of Charlie:

“The New York Times asks, “With so much going for them why, eight months after the iPad’s release, is the design of so many of those apps so boring?”
To which I answer: They’re boring because the iPad is boring. Rather than create an environment that was specially tailored to the unique iPad form factor, Apple instead chose to simply stretch the iPhone UI out to meet the size of the new device, making only small changes to accommodate the additional onscreen real estate.”

“When you go out and about with just an iPad, you’re sending a message that you’re not going to contribute. You’re just there to consume. This is why the iPad is, to my mind, uniquely unsuitable in the workplace. Knowledge workers don’t just read documents. They comment on them, edit them, send feedback. They contribute…The iPad is not a business tool. In fact, for most people, it never will be. (And those who contort their workflow to make this possible are, of course, simply trying too hard to justify their vanity purchase.)” Ed. The use of the ellipse here is not to hide the part of the quote containing its compelling logic, as is the case in most tech blogging, but simply an attempt to staunch the hemorrhaging stupidity.

“There’s been a lot written about Apple’s iPad, but little of it, to date, has reflected the very real problems with this device. I’d like to correct this, not because the iPad is horrible, but because the iPad is simply good. And this is not what those in the lamestream media would have you believe. Instead of actually reviewing the iPad objectively, they have opted to ape Apple’s marketing mantra, calling it “magical” or “innovative” or, worst of all, “a game changer.” It is none of those things. It is just good.”

This is all on one topic. Paul’s entire body of mystifyingly bad analysis is probably the largest on the internet.  You might be tempted to feel sorry for Paul, much like the sympathy one would have for the intellectually challenged protagonist in Keyes’ book.  It’s much more likely, however, that Paul’s position as the last person religiously fluffing Microsoft and bashing Apple is nothing more than garden variety hit-whoring schtick as opposed to the expression of below-average intelligence. OK: well below average intelligence. The tip-off is that he spells most of his words correctly.

And so concludes TMA’s induction ceremony for our third member of Douchebag’s Row: Paul Thurrott. Welcome to your place among the internet’s elite FUDruckers, Paul: you should feel right at home.

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