Lots of chat going on about Paul Graham’s post on Microsoft and how it is dead. As my friend Tony Hung points out over at Deep Jive Interests, this is a wonderful piece of linkbait from the noted programmer and angel investor behind Y Combinator and Startup Camp. But I still think that Paul has put his finger on something important.
It’s obvious that even Paul Graham doesn’t believe that Mr. Softee is actually dead — and he admits near the end that the company is clearly still alive as a business entity, since it has tens of billions of dollars pouring in every month. What he seems to be arguing is that the software behemoth is no longer dangerous, no longer competitively interesting. In other words, it is boring — in the same way that IBM became boring in the 1980s, after Microsoft came along.
Tony is right that Microsoft is stll extremely powerful, and rich, and therefore has the luxury of time. And even for fans of Google and web-based apps like me, it’s obvious that MSFT will be a force for some time to come. But Paul is still making an important point, which is that Microsoft is no longer doing the things that appear to be the future — whether it’s the future of search, or mobile apps, or web apps. It is the IBM of the new century.