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Mine -- All Mine!
When does winning go too far?

By: David K. Every
(C) 1997 - All Rights Reserved


I understand the desire to win or acquire things. But at some point you have to get over your insecurities and be content with life (less driven).

Winning is not everything. It would be nice to build a successful company (like MS), and help influence the industry -- but then what? When you own the market and have billions of dollars, what else do you need? To win more, or to make a positive difference in this world. (Sadly I think MS/Gates is more about the former than the latter).

I believe in making the best product I can, or making the most difference that I can (towards the positive). I am far from perfect, but at least I care about keeping the customers interests at heart (because THAT is what makes my products better). THAT is what gives value to my products -- not how much money or attention I get, not how much market share I have, not how many competitors (choices) I destroy or acquire, nor how many versions of a product I can pump out.

This is not to say that Bill Gates should listen to me, or should be ruled by my philosophy... but at some point everyone has to get disgusted about things they don't like, and try to make a difference. We should not be tolerant of the intolerable.

Microsoft as a company has NOT been about offering good products or good services to the computing community -- they are about winning, or selling out. Gates won't be happy creating MSNBC to offer the best service that can be offered, it is about another tool to help him (his company) win -- to become the biggest and richest. He will be satisfied when he is the biggest -- then he will try to eat all the others. It's not only about being the best game in town, it is about being the ONLY game in town. Then he will leave that town high and dry and walk away -- like with DOS, MS-Basic for the Mac, Stac (SpaceDoubler?), or the many other products that Microsoft let die once they had dominated the market.

If Gates or Microsoft was interested in making the best products (quality, price, features, etc.), then that is exactly what they would have done. They have enough resources that they can do whatever they want -- and crush anyone that is in their way. They can buy out the competition, buy their people, buy better experts, give away their own products, destroy competitions ability to distribute, get better distribution for their own product through bundling, misinform the media, control the media, and do whatever it takes to win. Which is exactly what they do. They don't use that money to make the best products -- unfortunately quality is one of the lowest priorities on the Microsoft list. Microsoft is about winning -- not about giving. Why make it better, when you can spend that money more effectively CONVINCING people that it is better? They are about creating good enough (to win), not about creating good. Microsoft products never go beyond what they have to (in quality, features, cost, etc.) to win.

The fact is that almost everyone (inside the industry) understands this. Wall Street loves the ruthlessness, because it guarantees growth and ROI. They don't care about what it does to society because it makes money -- that our computing experiences are reduced because of Microsofts lack of caring and corporate philosophy is irrelevant (to them). The press doesn't care -- they want to go where the ad-money is, and predict the obvious, because that is job security. IS/IT loves Microsofts size -- it means that MS can force others to use their products and that those products will be around (and the IS/IT types won't have to learn anything other than the minimum), so they are a safe path. Users are looking to not use a better tool, and improve their efficiency, but in taking the easiest path. But it is in educating the users that lies our only hope for rising above mediocrity, and demanding quality products, instead of the half-assed one that usually come from Microsoft -- not usually bad, just lacking in the refinement and polish that makes a mediocre product into a good one.

The philosophy that makes Microsoft products win (and the tolerance for that philosophy) is what disgusts me most about our society -- a loss of focus and goals on everyone's part.

How much more unfocused can you get than to think that at the end of your life, you are going to look back and be proud at all the ways you screwed people for money, or made an inferior product (because it was too hard to do it right), or destroyed the competition (even when they had a product/service that complimented your own and was needed), or when you did anything other than your best. If you want to die happy, give a little -- and stand up for what you know is right. Be a good spouse, to a good person (which takes sacrifices). Be a good parent, to a good child (which takes a lot more sacrifice).Try to give more than you take. To do the best you can, and help encourage it in others. Be a good person, instead of taking the easy path. Don't be like Microsoft.

So I don't hate Microsoft for their products -- sometimes they are forced to make good ones (or acceptable ones) in order to win. I don't hate Microsoft as a company, or Gates as a person. But I can't stop looking at Microsoft (or Bill Gates), and their philosophy, and thinking about those poor lost souls who have no focus and no direction in life... and that many of them are going to be people who look back on their lives and think, "Oh my God, what have I done -- what did I stand for?".

I don't expect people to all agree with my views (political or philosophical) -- and certainly not to the same degrees as I do. I am just pointing out some views that should make people think a little, even if they don't agree.
Before we get too critical of ONLY these groups, we should also look at our own industries as well, and what we can do to improve them. (This whole site is part of my efforts to improve mine).

Created: 11/01/97
Updated: 11/09/02

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