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The day the Windows died

I always thought Windows 2000 was the point of over-service for Microsoft. The book linked below puts a date on the point when Microsoft could and should have created an autonomous division whose task would be to create the platform that would eventually disrupt its core business.

Clearly Microsoft did not do this but Apple, with iPad, did.

In September 1999, Kodesh wrote a memo to Gates and Ballmer under the heading “Starting from Scratch.” We need to kill Windows CE for those categories, he argued. Win32 is not an advantage; it’s a tax on device design. It served to further Microsoft’s strategy but not to help consumers. Given all their other alternatives, electronics manufacturers wouldn’t pay the tax. Kodesh wanted to take a small group of developers and work solely on developing the best software for information appliances, unconstrained by the needs of the rest of the company. Gates rejected the suggestions. “It’s very disappointing you feel that way,” he told Kodesh. “We don’t have time to start from scratch.”

link: Who Fatally Wounded Microsoft? It Was Bill Gates. « Mike Cane’s iPad Test


  • kevin

    Why did Gates think he didn't have time to start from scratch?
    Who else was threatening to make information appliances? (No one, really.)
    Could it be that the return of Steve Jobs to Apple, and the launch of iMac spooked Gates?

  • http://asymco.wordpress.com asymco

    Looking back, it's hard to image what could have caused Gates to think he had no time for a mobile platform reset. However, I would put forward a hypothesis that Gates was looking to catch Palm. You have to imagine that since Palm launched the Pilot PDA in 1996 Microsoft was in a rush to head off what they thought was a new platform threat. They got a functional PDA (based on Windows CE) around 1998 and in 1999 were planning what became the Pocket PC which launched in 2001.

  • Ainsley

    This is what happens when you copy, versus innovate. The copier believes they can just catch up to the leader. The innovator steps back and makes decisions based on the Market, not the actions of the Market Leader. If you make decisions based on the Market Leader, you'll always be in a position of playing catch up. A game the market leader wants you to play ;)

    Cheers!