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Microsoft is Malfunctioning, Says Former Company Exec

By - Source: ReadWrite | B 43 comments

Former Microsoft executive Joachim Kempin says Microsoft should focus on Facebook, not Apple.

Former Microsoft executive Joachim Kempin stated in a recent interview that the company is "Malfunctioning" by focusing on Apple and releasing its own hardware and should instead spin off the "crummy" Xbox console to solely focus on software and compete with Facebook.

Kempin joined Microsoft back in 1983 when it only had 400 employees, and retired from the company in 2002 just after the launch of Windows XP. During his tenure, Kempin worked closely with hardware partners and helped Microsoft rise to dominate the personal computer market and worked with both founder Bill Gates and the current CEO, Steve Ballmer.

Kempin also helped develop some of the practices that landed Microsoft in a landmark anti-trust case against the Department of Justice and 20 states stretching from 1998 to 2001. The suit alleged that Microsoft won the browser wars at the time because the software came bundled with the Windows platform and prevented rivals like Netscape and Opera from competing.

Since his retirement, Kempin published the book Resolve and Fortitude: Microsoft’s `Secret Power Broker’ Breaks His Silence, where he talks about the "good old days" and how the Redmond company has lost its "audacity". The book is a result of his frustration over the path Microsoft has taken and the seemingly deaf ear provided by Steve Ballmer.

"The company has lost its coolness," he said. "I compare today with the launch of Windows 95, when people were lining up around the block at midnight. This didn’t happen with Windows 7 or Vista. It hardly even happened with Windows 8. But it happens every time when Apple launches a new product."

He then points out that when he retired from Microsoft, people were talking about social media. Microsoft had canned its tablet project and was instead selling phone software. What the company needs to focus on its building a next-generation Facebook, and do it right. As it stands now, the current version of the social network is "confusing and user unfriendly" and thus needs a complete makeover.

"The user investment is immense. Microsoft should take advantage of that," he said. "People would use it if they could transfer their posts with one mouse click. A Metro-like Facebook clone, and Microsoft would look way cooler than it does today. Instead the company produces its own hardware [i.e. the Surface tablets] and tries to compete with Apple while pissing off its loyal hardware manufacturers. Oh my God."

So what's the solution to Microsoft's current predicament? According to Kempin, Ballmer simply hasn't assembled the right team to propel the company forward. He goes on further to state that there are great ideas in the research group that will never see the light of day since the team doesn't have a true technical visionary. Though the implication is quite clear, Kempin doesn't go quite as far as saying that Ballmer needs to go.

To read the full interview, head here. Has Microsoft become Moby Dick's Captan Ahab and Apple the whale?

 

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  • 21 Hide
    Marcus52 , February 12, 2013 11:11 AM
    Umm, wut? Facebook? Like, it competes with Microsoft, how?

    If this guy can't understand the difference between the average Windows user and the average Apple fanboy, he has no business opening his mouth in public. If he thinks Win 95 was more popular than Win 7, he needs to get into some kind of reality therapy.
  • 16 Hide
    Soda-88 , February 12, 2013 12:04 PM
    jadedmonkey28In the old days MS would have just copied apple and made a better iphone, the Mphone. Alas we get the crappy tiles and a dismal app store instead. Samsung took the old MS role and has arguably the best smartphones on the market now. Even apple says Samsung phones are just like it's own. If MS wants to be back on top than they need to become ruthless and apple should want to sue them. Instead apple looks at MS phones and says "Really, that's all you got, we could care less."

    I'd rather have Lumia 920 than iPhone, that's for sure.
  • 15 Hide
    tokencode , February 12, 2013 11:04 AM
    Despite the Touch/Desktop Windows 8 fiasco, Microsoft has been releasing solid products lately. Windows 7, Windows Server 2012, SQL Server 2012, Visual Studio 2012. All are polished product that excel in their area. They might not have the cool factor, but they have made significant improvements recently.
Other Comments
  • 15 Hide
    tokencode , February 12, 2013 11:04 AM
    Despite the Touch/Desktop Windows 8 fiasco, Microsoft has been releasing solid products lately. Windows 7, Windows Server 2012, SQL Server 2012, Visual Studio 2012. All are polished product that excel in their area. They might not have the cool factor, but they have made significant improvements recently.
  • 12 Hide
    quilciri , February 12, 2013 11:07 AM
    I like how he mentions "audacity" and cloning another company's product in the same breath.
  • 12 Hide
    diddo , February 12, 2013 11:09 AM
    He lost me on "Metro-like".
  • 6 Hide
    digiex , February 12, 2013 11:11 AM
    Abort, Retry, Fail
  • 21 Hide
    Marcus52 , February 12, 2013 11:11 AM
    Umm, wut? Facebook? Like, it competes with Microsoft, how?

    If this guy can't understand the difference between the average Windows user and the average Apple fanboy, he has no business opening his mouth in public. If he thinks Win 95 was more popular than Win 7, he needs to get into some kind of reality therapy.
  • 3 Hide
    CaedenV , February 12, 2013 11:31 AM
    the reason people lined up to get win95 is because you use to have to go to a store to get such things. Every copy of win7 I purchased was online and shipped to me. For Win8 I purchased one disc (in a store! it was weird!) and then all other copies were downloads. Even my copy of win2k and XP/xp64 were purchased online.

    As for competing with FB... that is insane. MS has always taken a tack of letting other services thrive if they can do a better job (and there is little money in it).
  • -5 Hide
    jadedmonkey28 , February 12, 2013 11:32 AM
    In the old days MS would have just copied apple and made a better iphone, the Mphone. Alas we get the crappy tiles and a dismal app store instead. Samsung took the old MS role and has arguably the best smartphones on the market now. Even apple says Samsung phones are just like it's own. If MS wants to be back on top than they need to become ruthless and apple should want to sue them. Instead apple looks at MS phones and says "Really, that's all you got, we could care less."
  • -4 Hide
    ojas , February 12, 2013 11:40 AM
    I think we all know that...
  • -5 Hide
    virtualban , February 12, 2013 11:42 AM
    Marcus52Umm, wut? Facebook? Like, it competes with Microsoft, how?If this guy can't understand the difference between the average Windows user and the average Apple fanboy, he has no business opening his mouth in public. If he thinks Win 95 was more popular than Win 7, he needs to get into some kind of reality therapy.

    Microsoft has been trying to get more social everywhere it could. Not that it has been successful in that. But have been trying. That's what he is saying IMO, trying to become like facebook and getting profits from all people sharing and liking instead of getting profit the hard work way.
  • 16 Hide
    Soda-88 , February 12, 2013 12:04 PM
    jadedmonkey28In the old days MS would have just copied apple and made a better iphone, the Mphone. Alas we get the crappy tiles and a dismal app store instead. Samsung took the old MS role and has arguably the best smartphones on the market now. Even apple says Samsung phones are just like it's own. If MS wants to be back on top than they need to become ruthless and apple should want to sue them. Instead apple looks at MS phones and says "Really, that's all you got, we could care less."

    I'd rather have Lumia 920 than iPhone, that's for sure.
  • -1 Hide
    gilgamex , February 12, 2013 12:04 PM
    I agree on one level that Microsoft really doesn't have anything that sparks any interest. They are are primarily a software company, and do just fine with that and they also have Xbox which is debateably "Crummy" and has been a worthwhile venture for the company. It's just that none of these, including Microsoft, don't take any risks whatsoever.

    I think "Lining around the block" for windows95 vs Windows 7 is in one sense a metaphor because most things are an online or bundled OEM distribution. Windows 95 was groundbreaking at the time, and it was this explosion of people wondering what the future held with enthusiasm, the internet was in its infancy and it was on the most progressive track at the time.

    Nowadays there isn't ANYTHING exciting whatsoever except prototype builds of cool products from no name companies. Apple has got billions in the bank along with Microsoft, but they haven't made a damn thing that was really groundbreaking in any significant way except The Ipod/Original Iphone. There's no new awesome technology, no wild Ideas like google pulls out of its hat like Google's Project Glass. Stagnant boring companies.

  • -1 Hide
    lradunovic77 , February 12, 2013 12:24 PM
    Longhorn project and concepts of it had some ground breaking things but MS went for less and even less with Windows 8. Touch interface is not replacement for mouse and keyboard and infact it has no future. Future is Virtual Reality from which we are far away. Clearly some idiot at MS headquarter thought that you could apply touch gesture from Phone and Tablet to Desktop. They are obsessed with unifying Desktop, Phone and Tablets which won't happen. It is simply impossible to put a sign of = between Desktop and Tablet and Phone. They are all different devices and Tablets and Phones do not belong to PC. They are simply not PC but PM. Again MS came up with Surface Pro just as OEM came up with all weird devices, played with all of them and they are simply not good for anything. They lack just enough to force you to go for real solution in form of Desktop or Apple iPad.
  • 0 Hide
    howard69 , February 12, 2013 12:39 PM
    i guess i've been a MS customer longer than Joachim was with the big Redmond crew.
    having bled and fought over every one of their products the only thing i still
    want from them is for a specific product to JUST WORK.
    if it does that, i'm in.
    while i agree that a Metro like Facebook clone might be cool, our firm
    and most of the heavy hitters depending on MS just need excellence
    in software and a center to their diverse galaxies of endeavor.
    it bugs the c---- out of me that we had to download a free utility
    just to get our Start Buttons back in Windows 8 but that is the
    world we live in and what we must do to keep the crew happy.
  • 2 Hide
    niixon , February 12, 2013 12:41 PM
    So FaceBook, Google+, and Twitter are all too confusing and user unfriendly!? F*** my grandma knows how to use FaceBook, how much more simple does this guy want it!?
    "Windows Social, so easy an autistic caveman could do it."
  • 0 Hide
    redgarl , February 12, 2013 12:43 PM
    quilciriI like how he mentions "audacity" and cloning another company's product in the same breath.

    Pure Microsoft tactics...
  • 6 Hide
    jkflipflop98 , February 12, 2013 12:51 PM
    If the ones that are still there are as clueless as this dude, it's no wonder they're sputtering. Compete with Facebook? WTF is this dude smoking?
  • 6 Hide
    IAmVortigaunt , February 12, 2013 12:56 PM
    What is this guy talking about? First, he says they shouldn't be chasing Apple, then he says how Apple gets people lining up for products and that MS needs that kind of enthusiasm. So should they be chasing Apple or not? As for going after Facebook, are you kidding me? You think you're going to get a billion people to switch to your new social network just because it's a little more user friendly? Facebook, while not that great from a useability standpoint, works well enough for people, but, most importantly, pretty much anyone that wants to be on a social network (and has access to the internet) is on Facebook. Not only have they reached critical mass, it's a tiny dot in their rearview mirror. As for irritating OEM partners, so what! OEMs have been dropping the ball for years, putting out uninspired hardware full of bloatware and trialware. Also, he says they're not cool anymore, but also says they should spin off the xbox? That's arguabley their "coolest" product and central to their strategy of winning the race for the living room. This guy kinda seems to be off his rocker.
  • 4 Hide
    Trueno07 , February 12, 2013 1:02 PM
    tokencodeDespite the Touch/Desktop Windows 8 fiasco, Microsoft has been releasing solid products lately. Windows 7, Windows Server 2012, SQL Server 2012, Visual Studio 2012. All are polished product that excel in their area. They might not have the cool factor, but they have made significant improvements recently.


    And even then Windows 8 is a functional operating system. It's new, and a lot of people don't like it, but it's still way more usable than ME or Vista was when they were released.
  • 1 Hide
    warezme , February 12, 2013 1:15 PM
    This guy is even more clueless then he accuses MS of being. What a waste of a read.
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