Mark Lucovsky, previously employed by Microsoft as a distinguished engineer and the brains behind Hailstorm (which to my knowledge never shipped) shares he insights on how Microsoft no longer knows how to ship software:
I had the opportunity to meet and work with Mark on several occasions while at Micrsosoft. He is a smart guy – Anders Hejlsberg is also a DE at Microsoft and it’s a prestige shared by a select few – but I’m not completely bought in to the idea that hosted software by Application Service Providers (Amazon.com and SalesForce.com to name a few) is the nirvana it’s made out to be.
Web based software definitely has its place – heck it’s what we do at Telligent. But to discount the power of PCs is ridiculous. For me the power of web based software is the ease of creation and maintenance, but looking at technologies like Avalon it brings a lot of the same benefits with fewer of the headaches.
Take SalesForce.com – the much touted ‘No Software’ company. We bought licenses only to find out some of the built in features of Outlook (sans SalesForce.com software) worked better for the types of tasks we did. Personally I think SalesForce.com’s success is due largely to the lack of better tools, ACT! and similar products just feel clunky.
I definitely agree that Microsoft could be more agile about releasing software (and I personally know they do too), but unless I missed a valuable piece of insignt isn’t Amazon.com a web application? That’s just a tad bit different then shipping the software that makes writing and running web applications possible 🙂