First a disclaimer: I really like Microsoft Windows 7 and I really like Microsoft Office 2010. I don't care that they cost money or that there are alternative open source products available for free. The company's two flagship products work well and, in my not so humble opinion, are worth the money. And for the record, I am not a Microsoft shareholder.
However, with the possible exception of the Xbox game console and perhaps the Zune HD MP3 player, most of Microsoft's other product offerings have either been misguided, mistimed, or ill-conceived. Since the departure of Bill Gates, Microsoft has not really been in front of any mass-market technological innovation; in fact, most of the time they seem to be playing catch-up and not doing that very well.
TechRepublic Editor and Chief, Jason Hiner, wrote a Tech Sanity Check blog post earlier this week that summed up much of Microsoft's problems quite well. Basically, Microsoft is suffering from a lack of strategic leadership, especially when we are talking about technological innovation.
Jason suggests, and I have to agree, that it may be time for Microsoft to make a change at the top. Steve Ballmer, despite his considerable ability as a salesman, is just not getting the job done in terms of leading technological innovation for the company. The money is there and the people are there, but the strategic direction is sorely lacking. It's the proverbial "vision thing."
But what do you think? Is it time for Microsoft to change its leadership and reestablish its corporate strategy? Is it too late? Should Microsoft be looking to spend its large cash position on an acquisition that will jump start the company's technological prowess? How much longer can Microsoft survive on the twin cash cows of Windows and Office? Who would you hire to replace Steve Ballmer?
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Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.