Coming Soon: Microsoft 2.0 the book

Coming Soon: Microsoft 2.0 the book

Summary: I am writing a book about -- you guessed it -- Microsoft. It will be published in the Spring of 2008 by John Wiley & Sons. The title: Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft Plans to Stay Relevant in the Post-Gates Era. And I'm still looking for more fodder, in case you have any insights to share (confidentially or not).


After years of insisting I had no interest in writing a book, I've finally taken the plunge.

I am writing a book about -- you guessed it -- Microsoft. It will be published in the Spring of 2008 by John Wiley & Sons. The title: Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft Plans to Stay Relevant in the Post-Gates Era. (Amazon pre-order link for Microsoft 2.0 is here.)

Microsoft 2.0 the bookWhy did I finally give in to the siren call of book authorship? The timing felt right.

Up until now, Microsoft WAS Bill Gates. But at the end of June 2008, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates is slated to relinquish his day-to-day duties running the company he founded more than 30 years ago.

The new (version 2.0) Microsoft is at a crossroads. To me, "crossroads" isn't synonymous with dead, though I realize not everyone agrees. Major Wall Street firms claim that the old gray Soft just ain't what it used to be. Many are predicting that Microsoft might need to empty its huge cash coffers in order to compete with or buy out Web 2.0 companies. Cutting-edge technologists claim Microsoft has lost its way; has fallen and can't get up; and has evolved into a company whose operating systems are loved only by "grandmas." (Programmer Paul Graham's words, not mine.)

In Microsoft 2.0, I plan to talk about Microsoft's future, not its past -- which is ground well covered by many other Microsoft authors before me. I'll provide an overview of the Microsoft people, products and strategies who will matter during the next decade. I'll do my best to distill all the tips; conversations with customers, partners and competitors; and insights I've gained while reporting and blogging about Microsoft over the past couple of decades into 300-plus pages.

I am still working on the manuscript, so if you have any suggestions or contributions to share, please send them on. As always, confidentiality is guaranteed (unless you are gunning for a mention in the book, that is.)

Topics: Browser, Banking, Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Can we ban the "2.0" buzzword already?

    This 2.0, That 2.0, everything 2.0. It should be on that list of banned words/phrases that that one university comes out with every year.

    Microsoft is 32 years old so 2.0 doesn't seem quite appropriate -- maybe 2.0 was appropriate from when they expanded from the dev tools business into the OS business oh so long ago. I'd say they're at least on 12.0 or higher as a company.
    • 2.0 buzzword

      Yes, I had the same initial feeling about using 2.0....But I do feel like Gates' departure marks a new chapter in Microsoft's history, the way that nothing before has. So that's why I decided to go with the buzzword in this case.

      Another person said he thought I should have called it "Microsoft 3.0." Guess you can never please everyone :)
      Mary Jo Foley
  • When describing views of Microsoft's "obsolescence" ...

    ... may I suggest describing the attitudes that lead to those conclusions?

    Here's a company with huge and growing sales and profits. Whose products are the most valued and approved in the world, or have been in the recent past, and whose brand may be the most valuable. (A result partly of good marketing, but true.) One which continues to change the industry with its decisions about the direction of computing.

    That's not praise; it's recognition.

    So why would anyone criticize the company for not being able to do what it's doing well?

    The reason has to do with assumptions, attitudes, enthusiasms, which are widespread within the industry. To separate Microsoft's real challenges - and there are real challenges - from wishful thinking it's necessary to look at the context.

    This may be first chapter stuff, but Microsoft has a problem with beliefs. Subjective, but able to influence the stock price, even the response to products as a result of reviews by those who believe that they already know what the company is and should be.

    Everybody knows Microsoft, they think, and the disconnect between critics and reality is probably substantially larger than the disconnect between Microsoft and reality.
    Anton Philidor
  • MS' Future

    When MS does not dominate in a particular area, they say it is irrelevant, or it has lost its way. When MS dominates in a particular area, they say it?s a bad, mean monopoly. Either way, there is no pleasing its detractors. By the time Bill Gates steps away from the day to day operations of MS, I believe MS? software + services strategy will be well under way, and people will see for themselves that MS was correct in taking the course it is now taking ? as opposed to the popular Web 2.0 browser-only development model. We can see signs of MS? strategy working in important areas like the latest version of Windows Live Writer, which makes writing blog entries several times better than in-browser editors. In as much as people rely on desktop applications to do heavy duty to work, many browser based web 2.0 apps will become connected Windows desktop apps, in order to grow and achieve depth, and increase in usefulness.

    The biggest change in MS after Gates steps away, may be how it grows and adapts to political challenges that will be made against it in the future. If it can do this well, then it should be able to continue growing ? until some other unusual challenge pops up in front of it as a software company.
    P. Douglas
  • Book

    Hi Mary Jo! Good luck with the book; can't wait to read it. I want a copy signed by the author.


    Keith Ward
  • RE: Coming Soon: Microsoft 2.0 the book

    Mary Jo - you are a rock star!!!! I'm a big fan of yours. This site is the best Microsoft blog/news source. Can't wait for the book. Congrats! And for you "2.0" buzzword haters - get over it.
  • RE: Coming Soon: Microsoft 2.0 the book

    Can't wait. I've been wanting to read a recent Microsoft-related book for a while now.
  • Is the power in the desktop PC?

    When thinking about Microsoft's future, I suspect a major question to ask is whether Microsoft can continue to make a powerful desktop PC necessary for every day tasks.

    If a heavyweight PC is no longer necessary, if many tasks can be done out on the network, then it becomes much harder for Microsoft to maintain its most profitable products, the OS and the Office apps.

    Toward that, it is interesting to think about what can Microsoft do to make a powerful desktop machine necessary to users. One thing is PC games, which are notoriously power hungry. Another is privacy, the advantages of keeping your data local to your machine rather than out on a cloud. A third is personalization, learning from your behavior when performing your every day tasks.

    There certainly are others, other software and tools Microsoft could do provide that would make a powerful desktop machine seem useful, useful to the point of being necessary. But, if they fail to do that, if users can accomplish most tasks using a lightweight client running apps on the network, then Microsoft likely will find its core products and the company itself fading away toward irrelevance.
  • More fodder for your book

    Look at my blog.

    You will have a lot to chew on.
  • RE: Coming Soon: Microsoft 2.0 the book

    Hi Mary Jo,

    Can't wait to read your book. I have been involved with Microsoft in one way or another for the past 20 or so years. In fact, I used to work for IBM "way back when" as Microsoft first entered the scene.

    I am writing a book for publication at about the same time as yours, even though I am a graphic artist by trade, not a writer. My book is all about Internet Piracy and the importance of copyrights.

    Microsoft has been all about Bill Gates, Mary Jo for as long as I can remember. All of the good news ... and all of the bad news ... all of the important news ... Bill has always been front and center. This one visionary man has ruled the roost.

    I am not bullish on Microsoft in the post-Gates era. In my view, they have become more arrogant than ever. They simply pay no attention, whatsoever, to small business input or the input of consumers. It's all lip service. Ballmer claims otherwise, but he is far too removed from the trenches to have a clue.

    Microsoft is also a corporate hypocrite if there has ever been one. I couldn't help but laugh earlier this week when I heard Brad Smith was going to testify at Congress about another company (Google) in this industry having monopolistic powers. What a joke!

    Unlike in earlier days, Microsoft runs scared today. Why? I'm not really sure. Google is going to fall squarely on their own unethical and anti-copyright swords (watch this one!). It really doesn't even need a whinning Microsoft to help it along.

    Microsoft depending on defensive postures and overwhelming marketing engines is also a thing of the past in my view. That strategy simply does not work in an inter-connected global economy.

    Microsoft throwing out billions of dollars to try and prove it is "hip" won't work either.

    Microsoft and Google are the too largest willful copyright infringers in the entire world, Mary Jo. Especially in copyright arenas like electronic clip art illustrations, photography, design templates, logos/symbols, and animations. What we call the "graphic arts content" industries.

    Below is an article I have been asked to publish later today or tomorrow. It illustrates this massive hypocrisy and infringement activity that now is an ongoing way of life up at Microsoft. Apparently they saw Google doing it and got jealous. Who knows?

    I use a Halo 3 example to make my key points. Let me know what you think.

    Halo 3 is now free!

    What if I could figure out how to deliver Halo 3 to everyone for free and be protected from attacks by Microsoft based on the "safe harbor" or "fair use" provisions of the DMCA (that's the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for those of you new to copyright law in this country).

    What if I could make it run on any game console you had, or sell you a really cheap new one I'm having made in China? We're thinking about calling it the X-Boxx.

    What if I could then sell advertising on the web pages where Halo 3 was displayed for downloading and keep most of the money for myself?

    What if I could keep records of everyone who downloaded Halo 3 and then send them e-mails and other solicitations for hardware and software (maybe even travel and food!) owned by companies other than Microsoft?

    What if all Halo 3 users could then join my new social networking community and I could sell even more advertising for every minute they surfed or "stuck around" on the Web?

    Well, don't fool yourself. There are only a few things stopping this scenario from happening. It's called "the companies with all the money". It is also sometimes called a "monopoly", or certainly at least an "oligopoly". Some call it "truckloads of lawyers", probably even more dangerous than all of the other three combined. Years ago it used to be called "Japan".

    Microsoft routinely steals other people's copyright-protected property every single second of every single day. And so does Google. I know. My small graphic arts development company is one of the victims. We have had to lay off more talented people in the last few years than we have hired.

    Let me give you a specific example of how this illigal activity occurs routinely at Microsoft:

    1. Microsoft chose to copy Google's illegal image search approach rather than make some simple changes to make their's legal. Again, I know. I pointed this out to senior Microsoft executives and lawyers earlier this year and was politely told to pound sand.

    2. I showed senior Microsoft officials a specific example. They claimed they were somehow protected by the DCMA. NONSENSE!

    3. At the time, the N.Y. Yankees were 8 games behind the Boston Redsox. Their playoff chances looked "iffy" at best.

    4. I found several web site publishers, one called Freefever and the other called Lunapic, that had been infringing our electronic clip art illustrations for some time, AND who had removed the infringing images after receiving an official notice from my company, Imageline.

    5. I showed Microsoft exactly how they could still retrieve the Yankees clip art illustrations we had produced and registered with the U.S. Copyright Office many years ago from the Microsoft servers. AFTER they were removed from the infringing web sites. You see, top quality electronic graphic arts content actually increases in value over time. It's not like an old version of WordPerfect or Microsoft Works.

    6. Try it now yourself if you want to watch these ongoing infringements in action. Go to Microsoft Live image search and key in "Yankees clipart". You can do the exact same thing on Google if you'd prefer. The cartoon image with the fans in Yankee ball caps and sitting behind the "Go Yankees" banner is one of ours.

    7. You might also notice the official logo of Major League Baseball, several original Yankees' logos as well, and some other copyrighted works that are displayed by Microsoft on the exact same page with the Imageline clip art. Do you think Microsoft has a license to display and download any of these images?

    8. Microsoft claims it is retrieving the Imageline clip art illustrations from Lunapics or Freefever or other infringing web sites, but they are NOT. They are stored in the Microsoft servers. The infringing web sites took the images down long ago!

    9. Microsoft encourages you to place the infringed image into the Microsoft Scratchpad. From there, you can a) copy it to your computer, b) re-size it for use in other applications, c) e-mail it to a friend or business associate (or even a Boston fan), d) use it for your computer background as I have done here in Virginia, e) put it into a tiled background for a more dramatic impact, f) create a customized screen saver with the pirated image, or g) use readily available Windows software tools to modify, combine, or animate the copyrighted image. All EXCLUSIVE rights of the copyright holder.

    10. We're talking about using the infringing images in the exact same size and resolution as they are stored in the Microsoft servers. This is not "indexing" or "framing" folks ... this is DIRECT copyright infringement.

    11. If ALL of the above are not flagrant examples of willful copyright infringement, I do not know what is. And I have been in this technology copyright game for over 25 years now. Remember, all of these infringements occur as direct result of Microsoft instructions, Microsoft tools, and Microsoft trying to make extra billions of dollars from the hard work of others.

    12. How long do you think it would take Microsoft's army of lawyers to ascend on Central Virginia if we tried the exact same stunt with Halo 3 as referenced above? This is simply corporate hypocrisy at its highest and most dangerous level. And the primary reason I personally do not believe that the government should take any pressure off of Microsoft for complying to the anti-competitive restrictions placed on them years ago. In many areas, I think they've made a turn for the worse, even while under the government scrutiny.

    13. In addition, Microsoft is now selling advertising on the exact web pages where all of this infringing activity occurs. Just like Google, Microsoft's new wicked twin sister in the copyright infringement "evil empire".

    14. Neither Microsoft nor Google pay the original copyright holders a dime. While their five top so-called "executives" and "visionaries" have accumulated an astonishing $115 billion+ of wealth. What has happened to the morals and ethics of this country? And why aren't the existing copyright laws enforced against the largest violators in the land by far? Surely, lobbyists cannot be THAT powerful.

    15. Until Washington politicians, the judiciary, and the business community as a whole, decide to enforce our laws evenly, and follow the rules of decency and fair play, there will be NO END to the damages caused by willful copyright infringement activity in this country. Let alone any chance in hell of lowering the copyright, trademark, and counterfeiting violations abroad.

    This is a national crisis, folks. And I haven't heard a single candidate for president mention it even once. Nothing that is happening today could have the negative consequences on both the reputation and the pocketbook of hard working Americans like this issue. Once our morals and standards are gone, we may as well choose which other country we want to "follow".

    Who knows, maybe Microsoft and Google will form their own country by then. Why not, they are allowed to play by their own set of rules already. And they'll have a guy named Gates withourt a job who'd pe4obaly love to be "president". What a shame!

    Mark my words on this one!

    George P. Riddick, III
    Imageline, Inc.
  • RE: Coming Soon: Microsoft 2.0 the book

    Hello Mary Jo

    That is excellent news.. I am can't wait to get my hands on it..

    I have been reading your material for several years and find them very good and informative.

    Good luck with the project (I mean the one called writing "that book"...)



    Chief Executive Officer
    SVA Global Pty Ltd
    m:+ 61 417 321 257
    Satha Arumanayagam
  • Will MS change its dastardly ways?

    There's no arguing that Microsoft has very often (and in a high profile manner) engaged in truly dastardly deeds: from FUD to outright theft of intellectual property. Some would theorize that this is as much a reflection of Bill Gates' obsession to control and lead in everything as plain old corporate greed. But with Gates no longer as the helm, do you think this kind of behavior will change, Mary Jo? Maybe that would be worth a chapter.
  • Declining value of monopoly and managerial failure

    The real story about Gates is his last five years of failure.

    Perhaps the biggest aspect should be the rapidly declining value of the MSFT monopoly and the glaring failure of its top management, e.g., Gates and Ballmer to convert the monopoly gains into real shareholder value.

    Clearly the past five years have been a time of astonishing failure at MSFT with Xbox, Zune and Vista, not to mention the rapid obsolescence of the Office monopoly.

    Xbox has been a shareholder $billions sinkhole which has not, nor ever will, earn a profit.

    It seems likewise for the ill-fated, clumsy Zune, however much specious marketing surrounds it.

    Of course, Vista will earn a profit because of its owner's monopoly position but its damage to an already damaged reputation is more than apparent. Clearly, six years and more $billions have apparently yielded almost nothing positive to users. When the upgrade tp Vista is a downgrade to XP, management has failed.

    The conclusion is that the MSFT institutional Alzheimers has already been substantially set because of the Gatesian PR humbug of "innovation." The truth is that Gates + MSFT long ago gave up on innovation and squandered its monopoly money on me-tooism and corporate lethargy.

    The big MSFT story is not the transition of Gates from chief adolescent foul-mouthed nasty to elder statesman but his glaring failure during his twilight years at MSFT to choose projects that returned a positive return on shareholder equity.

    One needs only to look at the MSFT stock price to see this: Gates has become, after all these major "initiatives" (Xbox, Zune, Vista, etc., etc.) simply a prickly managerial failure.

    Yes, Bill. Please go off and attempt to defeat malaria. Leave quickly because your tenure over the last five years has been one of unmitigated failure. Someone who invested in MSFT five years ago would have earned more by buying a nice safe electric utility stock than in what Gates touts is the greatest innovator.

    Innovation? How about returning the profits to the shareholders instead of squandering them on further patently stupid projects.

    The real story about Gates + MSFT is that it is sadly in need of a general realignment and a comprehensive management cleanout and replacement with management that is capable to find and develop projects that add to shareholder value.

    The real story about Gates is his last five years of failure.
    Jeremy W
  • RE: Coming Soon: Microsoft 2.0 the book
  • RE: Coming Soon: Microsoft 2.0 the book

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