Is it time to break up Microsoft?

microsoftIn 2000, I was working in a start-up internet company helping build its foundation for future growth. If my memory is correct, it was during that time that Microsoft was under government pressure because it had deeply integrated its Internet Explorer program into the heart of the Windows operating system. You couldn’t uninstall it without consequences.

One day I was sitting around talking with a co-worker, and we hypothesized that maybe the best thing for Microsoft would be for the government to break the company up. We surmised that a 3-company Microsoft would truly be able to control the information technology market even more than it already did.

Here’s how we decided to break it up:

  1. A productivity software company that focused on making the Microsoft Office product available on any platform. Why not an Office for Linux?
  2. A server company that focused on enterprise server products like Exchange, SQL, etc.
  3. An operating system software company that produced the core operating systems such as Windows and Windows server. We even offered a thought about a “Windows” flavor of linux.

Looking back, we may have been a bit naive for just a couple of guys doing enterprise system development in a vertical market. And yet Microsoft’s troubles over that same time frame makes me wonder if we were actually right.

Over the next few posts, I want to explore the heart of Microsoft’s corporate issues, and offer some thoughts about it’s new strategy moving forward. I don’t claim to be any type of insider. And I admit that even though I’m Microsoft certified, I prefer to use a Mac, do all my web development in php, linux, and mysql, and generally have a dislike of Microsoft.

My motives are not an attempt to destroy the company, just to wonder aloud if splitting up the company would be more beneficial for the company now than trying to move forward with a reorganization strategy. Culture trumps strategy every time, and in many cases its best to just kill the culture by breaking up the company than trying to change a company’s culture.

Look for more posts later this week.