The new Microsoft: Impressively fast

The new Microsoft: Impressively fast

Summary: Significant change is underway in Redmond, with Microsoft reshaping itself to meet current market conditions. The most impressive change is how fast it is moving to address customer demands.

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Anyone who has followed Microsoft for very long can tell you that moving fast has never been the company's strong point. The gigantic infrastructure consisting of separate business units has long led to slow, plodding change. That has to change to keep up with the rapid pace of the mobile space. Impressively, moving quickly is what we are seeing Microsoft not only attempt, but doing well.

win8greasecar
(Image: Jason Perlow/ZDNet)

Those of us who have worked closely with Microsoft for years know all too well how slowly the company has always moved. Having served as a Tablet PC MVP for seven years, I saw this slow, plodding Microsoft too many times. Even when rapid change was required, the company often would still take its time to alter the status quo. Opportunities were often missed as a result of the lack of internal speed.

Until recently, the company had been so large for so long it was no surprise nothing ever seemed to happen quickly. Just getting one team to meet with another on the Microsoft campus often required a shuttle bus. Yes, the campus is so big that buses are required to get workers from one side to another.

Having seen this in person for so long, I was skeptical every time I heard that internal operation was going to speed up. I admit I didn't think this was possible.

That's why I am so impressed with how quickly Microsoft has rebuilt itself in the area of devices and services. I was amazed at how quickly the Windows 8.1 update followed the original Windows 8 release. I was floored how fast the Windows 8.1 Update followed that. What made this so impressive was that both of those Windows updates were largely reacting to customer feedback to what came before. 

Microsoft was actually listening to its customer base and releasing fixes as a result, and in the past that didn't always seem to be the case. This happened in months instead of years as it would have taken not that long ago.

Mary Jo Foley reported that Microsoft intends to move even faster for updates in the future. That will be quite a feat but based on its performance in the recent past, it just might pull this off.

That the behemoth in Redmond can now move so quickly is a clear sign of how strongly it is committed to change. There are still multiple business units in the company, but it's obvious they are now not only communicating, but working closely together. Things couldn't be happening so quickly otherwise. Those familiar with Microsoft know this alone is a significant change.

Kudos to you, Microsoft, for admitting what had to be done and then doing it. We're already seeing the benefits of the change and how fast you are making it happen. There are few industries that change as quickly as the mobile space, and your speed will go a long way to achieve success.

Let's give credit where it's due. This big change isn't solely due to new CEO Satya Nadella. The process started under Steve Ballmer, who paved the way for the new Microsoft. It may be one of the most important things Ballmer did during his tenure at the helm of the big ship that is Microsoft.

See also:

Topics: Mobility, Microsoft, Windows 8

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28 comments
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  • Did I click on an ad?

    NT
    kirovs@...
    • If it's a positive article about MSFT it must be, right?

      Only possible explanation. Yup.
      toreoasesino
      • There is a difference

        between positive article and "Our party is so loved it is unbelievable that at next congress people will love it even more".
        kirovs@...
  • Two things -

    It makes little sense to be fast and deliver things unfinished, buggy, or without merit. There has been a lot of that lately from Microsoft.

    Also, If no one likes what is output, it makes no difference whatsoever. Windows 8.1, and 8.1U1 are just fixes to try to assuage the many incensed by the delivery of Windows 8.0, which was a shock to nearly anyone who has a computer.

    As others have no doubt stated before, a toaster and an automobile do not need the same interface. It is the same for a phone and a computer.

    All of this could have been avoided if Microsoft had simply developed an OS for their phones, and continued one for computers. Instead of making believe that convergence of interface was needed, there could have been quality output from separate teams, and two wins, instead of mediocre response, would have been the result. [To those who see the massive numbers for Windows 8.x, it must be remembered that many of these licenses are still sitting in warehouses, and many have had downgrade rights exercised. Also, when [nearly] the only way to get a pre-built computer is to relent and have a Microsoft OS, it tends to reflect numbers which are unrealistic.]
    chrome_slinky@...
    • things unfinished, buggy, or without merit

      Please, enlighten us on this list of unfinished, buggy, meritless releases that Microsoft has apparently released. And once you do that show us a software release from Apple or Google that has been released WITHOUT this list of unfinished and buggy bits. You'll soon realize that MS has excellent QA and QC when it comes to the software they release and runs on as many different hardware types as Windows does.
      hafenbrack
      • How about DOS 1.0 through Win8.1

        and everything in between

        Maybe you should provide a list of M$ releases that were not buggy?
        FrankInKy
        • Everybody's buggy.

          Name any software business with bugless products.

          Everybody's buggy.
          CobraA1
          • so we both agree with the post by chrome_slinky

            But the outrage expressed by hafenbrack that anyone should suggest that MS had any bugs is on the far side of lunacy.

            If you read the posts you'll see that hafenbrack seems to be suggesting that MS has NO buggy software. I don't disagree with what your saying, all software companies release some buggy products, MS included.
            FrankInKy
      • Microsoft has a long history of delivering buggy software

        If you're old enough, you remember the hasty surfacing of DOS 4.01, after showstopping bugs in version. 4.0, or the bugs which forced DOS versions 6.2, and 6.22, when version 6.0 was full of problems. Moving on to Windows, there was WFWG 3.11, as there were big problems with WFWG 3.1. Then, with Windows 95, there was OSR2, which made that version solid, hidden by the fact that new features were added, to obfuscate the things repaired.

        I can continue, but most get the idea... Another problem is the very bad habit of Microsoft to not acknowledge certain problems, but release updates where things get better, yet no acknowledgement of the "fix" is made. This is typical for this company, which should have learned more from IBM, a company that was always fixing faults, and documented them so that anyone could easily patch when necessary - without having to resort to a seance to contact the other side, to receive answers to questions.

        Microsoft has never been fast, nor has it ever delivered first releases which were without major bugs [not even everyone's darling, Windows 7]. They release too quickly, pay not one iota of attention to beta testers, and almost never admit to problems not addressed. The one exception to this rule was with Vista, which, after nearly 3 years, and 2 service packs, became a great OS, but was nearly stillborn, and all because of the MS devs chasing rainbows for a few years [trying to develop WinFS]. The worst thing about this is that, after all that effort, WinFS was unceremoniously dropped, and its fate is unknown outside of Redmond to this day.

        Microsoft seems so willing to back a loser, like Bing, and lose many millions, but something which had real promise, like WinFS, is dropped without as much as a whimper. Xbox is much the same, it was a loser for many years, only recently starting to pay off.
        chrome_slinky@...
        • You seem to be focused on the past and other issues

          Like is anything isn't an instant success it must be a loser. That the new actions by Microsoft are course correcting some mistakes that were made (which seems like a good thing right?)

          This article is about Microsoft changing. About how it is being different than it was. About how it is listening to feedback and making positive changes. About how divisions and employees that were once set against each other are now working together to create more unified services and features.


          What would you have Microsoft do?
          Emacho
        • Backing losers or long term investment.

          So you're suggesting that MS should drop bing because it's losing money today like they should of dropped Xbox because it lost money yesterday. I can't believe you are suggesting that and in the same breath saying Xbox is starting to pay off. I don't know if you're involved with search but bing is gaining market share and revenue and with yahoo climbing into bed with yelp that market share will only increase and one day it will only recently start to pay off......
          Kevin Morley
  • And Now

    that Microsoft is the second largest manufacturer of handsets in the world (second only to Samsung), the pace should really pick up!
    Mujibahr
    • Why? a barely 3% before is still barely 3% now.

      They USED to be the second largest manufacturer of handsets.

      Whether they keep making the non-smart phones is up in the air.
      jessepollard
    • More junk for the pile

      Nokia once made quality phones, but that stopped years ago. Today, the newest phone gets the praise, even though many times there are bugs that never would have been accepted before, and many are NEVER fixed.

      Phone manufacturers today take the tack that ATi started back in the early '90s - if you want the bugs of this version worked out, you must upgrade to the newest version. Don't dare expect that things will be fixed with a factory recall, or a firmware revision.
      chrome_slinky@...
      • What rock do you live under?

        Nokia has the best cameras and software of any phone. They are far more durable than an iPhone or any Android I can think of. They screens have the best readability in sunlight and highest level of sensitivity (even with gloves on they still work and in cold weather). Their navigation/gps software is as good or better than any others. The sound recording quality and direction sound filtering is top notch. Updates come several times a year and add new features regularly.

        It almost sounds like you are describing Android phones and acting if they represent how all phones manufacturers are.
        Emacho
  • Oh no!

    A Microsoft moving can only mean one thing....bad updates, endless problems and total lack of customer respect...
    Microsoft has and always will be a plodder, they have never invented anything that made the world go WOW. They plod along copying others innovation
    Bladeforce
  • The new Microsoft: Impressively fast

    I wouldn't say they were slow at all. They were on a 3 year cycle up until about Microsoft Windows Vista. It was the period between Microsoft Windows XP and Microsoft Windows Vista that was delayed because they had to rewrite the OS. At the time though the 3 year period between releases was fine and businesses could adapt. Now it makes sense to update at a faster pace given all the technology we have that we didn't have before. This will be good for all consumers.
    Loverock.Davidson
  • Indeed.

    "Anyone who has followed Microsoft for very long can tell you that moving fast has never been the company's strong point."

    Indeed. I've always referred to them as a battleship - slow to turn, but once they've aimed those guns, watch out.

    Problem is, they're not the only battleship anymore. Being slow to turn is more of a problem now with more big guns out there.

    Hopefully a good development.
    CobraA1
  • There is a reason for that.

    If Microsoft is moving fast, it's because there is a reason. Google. Microsoft never had real competition until recent years. Without Chrome OS, Chrome, Android, etc.... Microsoft would be slow as molasses.
    VictorWho
  • Yay! A new Windows 8 every year!

    And just about no one will be able to use a computer.

    Forced, unwanted "upgrades". God I love Microsoft!
    dfolk2