The New York Times reporters Steve Lohr and John Markoff explain the software delivery problems at Microsoft, as evidenced by the recent Vista and Office 2007 delays.
...each new version of Windows carries the baggage of its past. As Windows has grown, the technical challenge has become increasingly daunting. Several thousand engineers have labored to build and test Windows Vista, a sprawling, complex software construction project with 50 million lines of code, or more than 40 percent larger than Windows XP.
"Windows is now so big and onerous because of the size of its code base, the size of its ecosystem and its insistence on compatibility with the legacy hardware and software, that it just slows everything down," observed David B. Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School. "That's why a company like Apple has such an easier time of innovation."
Professor Michael A. Cusumano of the MIT Sloan School of Management said Windows is too big and complicated. Of course, we all know that. The question is what can Microsoft do to remedy the problem over time, short of focusing on the Live components. Other than force customers to change horses to a new platform as Apple did in 2001, not much. So far, Apple's platform shift hasn't led to much market share gain against the more ponderous and complex Windows...but if Apple were to license its operating system, it would be a different game.