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Microsoft Stumbling, Says Forbes

I had the impression, perhaps unfounded, that Forbes was a big fan of Microsoft. A business magazine, a highly profitable business–what not to love? If that was the case, it seems to be no longer.

Daniel Lyons writes an opinion piece, Microsoft Vista: Not ‘People Ready’, in which he skewers the company for delaying (again) Windows Vista and MS Office, for producing enormously complex software to fill needs that no one seems to have, and for releasing half-baked products.

Lyons concludes with an endorsement of open source and Apple: “Microsoft can’t afford to screw up like this. There are free alternatives to everything Microsoft sells, like the Linux operating system and the OpenOffice application suite. Rivals like Novell, Red Hat, Sun Microsystems and, yes, IBM are pushing those programs big time.

Given Microsoft’s delays I can’t believe open-source stuff still hasn’t caught on for desktop computers. It’s amazing, but people will wait months and months for products that are so complicated that no ordinary person can figure out how to use them.

Why not at least switch to an Apple Computer Mac? Apple’s new operating system is stable, reliable and easy to use. The applications are simple, gorgeous and work well together. And they’re here. Today. Steve Jobs must be waking up a happy man this morning.”

It’s not just Forbes. The International Herald Tribune joins in with Burden of the Years Weighs on Windows, in which authors Steve Lohr and John Markoff discuss the complexity of Microsoft’s software products as the cause of slower and less effective development.

After cataloging and analyzing Microsoft’s symptoms, they nevertheless arrive at the conclusion, “They did the right thing in deciding that the Longhorn code was a tangled, hopeless mess, and starting over,” Cusumano of MIT said. “But Vista is still an enormous, complex structure.”

Microsoft’s troubles are not going to end with the shipping of Vista and MS Office 2007. It looks to me like that is when they will really begin.

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