Former Microsoft executive Joachim Kempin stated in a recent interview that the company is “Malfunctioning” by focusing on Apple and releasing its own hardware and should instead spin off the “crummy” Xbox console to solely focus on software and compete with Facebook.
Kempin joined Microsoft back in 1983 when it only had 400 employees, and retired from the company in 2002 just after the launch of Windows XP. During his tenure, Kempin worked closely with hardware partners and helped Microsoft rise to dominate the personal computer market and worked with both founder Bill Gates and the current CEO, Steve Ballmer.
Kempin also helped develop some of the practices that landed Microsoft in a landmark anti-trust case against the Department of Justice and 20 states stretching from 1998 to 2001. The suit alleged that Microsoft won the browser wars at the time because the software came bundled with the Windows platform and prevented rivals like Netscape and Opera from competing.
Since his retirement, Kempin published the book Resolve and Fortitude: Microsoft’s `Secret Power Broker’ Breaks His Silence, where he talks about the “good old days” and how the Redmond company has lost its “audacity”. The book is a result of his frustration over the path Microsoft has taken and the seemingly deaf ear provided by Steve Ballmer.
“The company has lost its coolness,” he said. “I compare today with the launch of Windows 95, when people were lining up around the block at midnight. This didn’t happen with Windows 7 or Vista. It hardly even happened with Windows 8. But it happens every time when Apple launches a new product.”
He then points out that when he retired from Microsoft, people were talking about social media. Microsoft had canned its tablet project and was instead selling phone software. What the company needs to focus on its building a next-generation Facebook, and do it right. As it stands now, the current version of the social network is “confusing and user unfriendly” and thus needs a complete makeover.
“The user investment is immense. Microsoft should take advantage of that,” he said. “People would use it if they could transfer their posts with one mouse click. A Metro-like Facebook clone, and Microsoft would look way cooler than it does today. Instead the company produces its own hardware [i.e. the Surface tablets] and tries to compete with Apple while pissing off its loyal hardware manufacturers. Oh my God.”
So what’s the solution to Microsoft’s current predicament? According to Kempin, Ballmer simply hasn’t assembled the right team to propel the company forward. He goes on further to state that there are great ideas in the research group that will never see the light of day since the team doesn’t have a true technical visionary. Though the implication is quite clear, Kempin doesn’t go quite as far as saying that Ballmer needs to go.
To read the full interview, head here. Has Microsoft become Moby Dick’s Captan Ahab and Apple the whale?