When I started at Microsoft in the early 90s, they were evil and unexciting, sure, but they were ruthlessly efficient. Somewhere down the line, they lost their way.
For me, it all changed in 1999, when we were forced to permanently hire all temp workers—regardless of their intellect, performance, or qualifications—or lose those positions entirely. As the years went by and the children of Workforce Planning (as the initiative was called) rose into management, the company slowly mutated into something gimpy.
(As will be evidenced by all the mail I'll soon get from a microsoft.com address, telling me that I just don't understand. Folks, kindly open the stock's performance chart and save me the trouble of sending it.)
For me, the crowning achievement was in 2007, when the iPhone shocked the world. Old Microsoft would have spun on a dime and released their free knockoff inside of nine months. New Microsoft, however, instead put flyers in all of our mail slots. The flyers provided bulleted arguments we could use in public to deflate iPhone owners' enthusiasm. As if that weren't sad enough, first among the arguments was "the iPhone doesn't have a QWERTY keyboard."
Except that it does.
I think maybe they meant it doesn't have physical buttons.
Three absurdly long years later, after I'd bailed in disgust but before Microsoft had resorted to paying independent app developers to create apps for their platform, Microsoft finally released a multitouch phone and App Store. Employees danced at a mock-funeral for the iPhone, complete with hearse. Behold, the descendents of Workforce Planning.
Meanwhile, it's 20 months later. I'm Old Microsoft, so I'm less interested in circle-jerking than in the actual data. And here it is: since Windows 7 Phone came out, Microsoft has actually managed to lose market share. They now rank below something called "Bada".
But I'm sure I just don't understand.