Microsoft hits back at Dick bashing

On Thursday a scathing opinion piece appeared in The New York Times written by former Microsoft VP Dick Brass who claims Microsoft 'no longer brings us the future'.

Dick Brass was a vice president at Microsoft from 1997 to 2004 and worked primarily on e-book software and Microsoft's Tablet PC computing vision.  Brass' team developed ClearType but his claims in the editorial suggest that it was delayed from shipping until Windows Vista. Brass suggests the technology was ready in 1998 but due to false claims from the Windows team and the head of Office products, then Steven Sinofsky, the technology was delayed from launching. Apparently engineers in the Windows team claimed it "made the display go haywire when certain colors were used" and Sinofsky said "it was fuzzy and gave him headaches".

Brass also argues that the Tablet PC was restricted at launch because of the Office team. He claims Sinofsky didn't like the concept and "he much preferred keyboards to pens and thought our efforts doomed". Brass feels that although the Tablet cost hundreds of millions to develop, Sinofsky sabotaged his teams efforts. The claims are bold and offer a rare insight into Microsoft's history. Sinofsky is currently the VP of Windows and was responsible for the turnaround of Windows 7. Brass also touches on the Xbox 360, calling it "at best an equal contender in the game console business."

Microsoft responded on Thursday to Brass' claims in a company blog post by Frank Shaw, VP Corporate Communications at Microsoft. Shaw disagrees with Brass' opinion and feels the company can still compete and innovate. He picks out two main points, the Xbox 360 and ClearType. Shaw claims Xbox 360 was the first high-definition console and will be the first to provide controller-free gaming later this year with Project Natal. Shaw also defends Microsoft's decisions over ClearType, admitting the company could have shipped it faster but that it's now included in every copy of Windows and is installed on around a billion PCs around the world. "This is a great example of innovation with impact: innovation at scale" Shaw states. In response to the Office and Tablet claims Shaw simply points towards OneNote which is a key part of Office today.

Brass touches on some valid and some invalid points in his opinion piece. Microsoft has certainly lost ground to smartphones like the BlackBerry or iPhone and search engines like Google. Digital music systems like the iPod and iTunes dominate the market share and mind share of customers. Brass claims Microsoft is a "clumsy, uncompetitive innovator". With the iPad on the horizon and web services like Facebook and Twitter soaring in popularity, is Windows and Office all that Microsoft has got left to innovate with?

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