June 19, 2006 4:00 AM PDT

Microsoft looks beyond Gates for new ideas

Microsoft is looking to replace Bill Gates with a computer.

Okay, that's not entirely true. Many of Gates' duties are being handed off to Ray Ozzie and Craig Mundie as part of the tech icon's effort to step away from day-to-day technical leadership at Microsoft.

But while the company is looking for individual leaders, the company is also aiming to further democratize its technical leadership. A key part of that is a new internal communications system designed to allow workers to spitball ideas on where the company should be headed, CNET News.com has learned.

In an interview Thursday, Gates said that the system, known as Quests, is still in the early stages of development. Still, it "gets us to be really specific about the future of the home, the future of the office, the future of the data center," Gates said.

The idea is to draw more of Microsoft's technical minds into the process of planning for the future. "It will be a SharePoint wiki thing internally so people can say where they disagree or we're missing something," Gates said.

It's part of Microsoft's effort to make the company less dependent on any particular individuals, including Gates.

"Two years from now...the commitment I made to Bill is that we're going to be in the position where hopefully we would anticipate anything he would suggest to us," Ballmer said. "That's part of getting the company to the place where it can have this broad, big agenda and it's got to be driven by not only guys like me, but the next generation of leaders."

Special coverage: The end of the Gates era

Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer declined to offer too many specifics on the system, or say when it will be up and running." It's a good exercise that (CTO) David Vaskevitch and Bill and Ray (Ozzie) are championing to have a little bit more regular, informal way to actually call on people to express and help the company shape its long-term technical direction," Ballmer said.

Google has its own system in which workers can be inspired by what their colleagues are working on. On its internal Web site, Google workers can see each employee's key objectives and results, thereby getting a sense of what co-workers are up to.

However, Gates and Ballmer took pains to contrast what Microsoft is doing with Google's system.

"This is different," Gates said. "This is about what the future is."

Ballmer concurred. "This is where you kind of synthesize what you think we ought to do as opposed to just saying 'Hey what is everybody up to?'"

Greg DeMichillie, an analyst at research firm Directions on Microsoft, said the key is whether the system helps Microsoft come up with concrete plans.

"I don't think Microsoft is suffering from a lack of ideas," he said. "(Windows) Vista isn't in trouble because of a lack of ideas. It's a shortage of planning, scheduling and estimating."

DeMichillie said, from his perspective, Microsoft's biggest problems is stitching together all of its ideas into coherent plans. "One of Microsoft's big problems is that they have all of these different (product) teams," he said. "How does that ever get tied together in a way that makes sense for customers?"

Such a system is important for the broadening giant, Ballmer maintains. "We like to think it as a way of being intentional about the key technology transformations that we think will be important over the next 10 years, even if the business models are uncertain, which for a lot of things, they will be uncertain for a long time."

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61 comments

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When Will Microsoft Get Real!
... This article states in part that "A key part of that (a strategy aimed to further democratize its technical leadership) is a new internal communications system designed to allow workers to spitball ideas on where the company should be headed..."; when what perhaps the company should be doing is sitting down with the "financial and economic analysts" who are external to the company to come up with real working solutions; also, Microsoft needs to work closely with IBM for the release of the OS/2 Source-Code (or parts of it) into the Open-Source Community where it is very likely that the world would see the emergence of innovative ideas in microcomputing!
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You're Kidding, Right?
Since when has a financial analyst had a good idea about anything other than how to keep the stockholders churning?

No, MSFT is taking a great first step towards transparency and internal innovation from the ranks. No doubt, the Ozzification of MSFT is just now beginning; the ugly old fat and delusional grub soon to become the beautiful, multi-colored butterfly it is so capable of morphing into!
Posted by rayted32-191126880979139043961 (19 comments )
Link Flag
OS/2 is dead
It also now outdated and unneeded too. We already have a perfectly good open source OS with Linux. Adding OS/2 to the mix would just be a waste and way to divide resources which would end up helping the closed source OS vendors.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
When Will Microsoft Get Real!
... This article states in part that "A key part of that (a strategy aimed to further democratize its technical leadership) is a new internal communications system designed to allow workers to spitball ideas on where the company should be headed..."; when what perhaps the company should be doing is sitting down with the "financial and economic analysts" who are external to the company to come up with real working solutions; also, Microsoft needs to work closely with IBM for the release of the OS/2 Source-Code (or parts of it) into the Open-Source Community where it is very likely that the world would see the emergence of innovative ideas in microcomputing!
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You're Kidding, Right?
Since when has a financial analyst had a good idea about anything other than how to keep the stockholders churning?

No, MSFT is taking a great first step towards transparency and internal innovation from the ranks. No doubt, the Ozzification of MSFT is just now beginning; the ugly old fat and delusional grub soon to become the beautiful, multi-colored butterfly it is so capable of morphing into!
Posted by rayted32-191126880979139043961 (19 comments )
Link Flag
OS/2 is dead
It also now outdated and unneeded too. We already have a perfectly good open source OS with Linux. Adding OS/2 to the mix would just be a waste and way to divide resources which would end up helping the closed source OS vendors.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
Late to the game
IBM built a democratic wiki-based idea and strategy "suggestion box" well over a year ago.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://domino.research.ibm.com/comm/www_innovate.nsf/pages/ourselves.thinkplace.html" target="_newWindow">http://domino.research.ibm.com/comm/www_innovate.nsf/pages/ourselves.thinkplace.html</a>
Posted by jscribner (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You know what my friend?
With Ray Ozzie being chief software architect, and MS talking about this electronic "pooling of ideas" thing, actually made me think about Thinkplace (which runs on Lotus, btw, lest you miss the Ozzie connection). :D
Posted by Eric Draven (34 comments )
Link Flag
Late to the game
IBM built a democratic wiki-based idea and strategy "suggestion box" well over a year ago.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://domino.research.ibm.com/comm/www_innovate.nsf/pages/ourselves.thinkplace.html" target="_newWindow">http://domino.research.ibm.com/comm/www_innovate.nsf/pages/ourselves.thinkplace.html</a>
Posted by jscribner (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You know what my friend?
With Ray Ozzie being chief software architect, and MS talking about this electronic "pooling of ideas" thing, actually made me think about Thinkplace (which runs on Lotus, btw, lest you miss the Ozzie connection). :D
Posted by Eric Draven (34 comments )
Link Flag
Stop Copying others ideas!
I really like the Xbox 360, I own it. But most people don't realize that inside the Xbox 360 is not an Intel or a IBM Power PC Chip, the almost same thing that is inside the G5 Power Mac, just with 3 cores instead of 2 per processor.

Majority of all Xbox 360 games are developed on a G5 Power Mac, not a XP machine, why is that ?

Your Vista is no better then Suse Linux 10.1 that I can download for free with access to thousands of programs for free and commercial solutions are there to purchase as well.

I am so disapointed is MS, that XP is the last OS that I am got and your OFfice update looks retarded, you guys removed all the menus that people are used to and made it look retarded for retarded people.

Majority of users who can afford Office that cost what $500 or more for full version are not people who are 21, they will download it and hack it for free.

And people in their 30's and so on, don't like major catastrophic changes. You guys should have done more useability studies, lock people in rooms and study them like rats. Either you forgot about that, or it wasn't presented to your core market.
Posted by rmiecznik (224 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Quit copying other people's criticism!
I have seen this "Microsoft stealing others' ideas" rant a trillion times already. Go think up something original to say already!
Posted by Chung Leong (111 comments )
Link Flag
The wheel
Everything since the wheel is someone copying and improving on the ideas of those who came before. I am in my 40's and I don't mind change as long as it's an improvement, not just for the sake of changing. Say what you will about MSFT it's one of a very few American corporations that can actually produce something anymore.
Posted by Soulwolf (43 comments )
Link Flag
Stop Copying others ideas!
I really like the Xbox 360, I own it. But most people don't realize that inside the Xbox 360 is not an Intel or a IBM Power PC Chip, the almost same thing that is inside the G5 Power Mac, just with 3 cores instead of 2 per processor.

Majority of all Xbox 360 games are developed on a G5 Power Mac, not a XP machine, why is that ?

Your Vista is no better then Suse Linux 10.1 that I can download for free with access to thousands of programs for free and commercial solutions are there to purchase as well.

I am so disapointed is MS, that XP is the last OS that I am got and your OFfice update looks retarded, you guys removed all the menus that people are used to and made it look retarded for retarded people.

Majority of users who can afford Office that cost what $500 or more for full version are not people who are 21, they will download it and hack it for free.

And people in their 30's and so on, don't like major catastrophic changes. You guys should have done more useability studies, lock people in rooms and study them like rats. Either you forgot about that, or it wasn't presented to your core market.
Posted by rmiecznik (224 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Quit copying other people's criticism!
I have seen this "Microsoft stealing others' ideas" rant a trillion times already. Go think up something original to say already!
Posted by Chung Leong (111 comments )
Link Flag
The wheel
Everything since the wheel is someone copying and improving on the ideas of those who came before. I am in my 40's and I don't mind change as long as it's an improvement, not just for the sake of changing. Say what you will about MSFT it's one of a very few American corporations that can actually produce something anymore.
Posted by Soulwolf (43 comments )
Link Flag
Too Big. Too Fast.
Microsoft got too big too fast. Thats the main problem.

They didn't take the time to develop &#38; evolve normally like every
other company in the industry has. There practice has always
been taking strategies from other companies and making it
there own.

Now in the conflict of crisis. Internally they are going from Dept.
to Dept. really trying to figure, what it is there exactly good at.

Now its a Human Resource issue?? Sheesh whats next...
Its a total mess and their public admitting there faults only now..
What was all the talk of them being a company on the move??
Whats worst now is there lying to their customers..
Posted by ServedUp (413 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Too Big. Too Fast.
Microsoft got too big too fast. Thats the main problem.

They didn't take the time to develop &#38; evolve normally like every
other company in the industry has. There practice has always
been taking strategies from other companies and making it
there own.

Now in the conflict of crisis. Internally they are going from Dept.
to Dept. really trying to figure, what it is there exactly good at.

Now its a Human Resource issue?? Sheesh whats next...
Its a total mess and their public admitting there faults only now..
What was all the talk of them being a company on the move??
Whats worst now is there lying to their customers..
Posted by ServedUp (413 comments )
Reply Link Flag
haha
I will, once MS get some original ideas, then I will stop the original rants.
Posted by rmiecznik (224 comments )
Reply Link Flag
haha
I will, once MS get some original ideas, then I will stop the original rants.
Posted by rmiecznik (224 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wise Learn by Himself,Less Wise Learn From Experience,Beast Learn By Nature
Nowadays, it is not all about who came up with the original ideas; it is all about who executes the ideas and produces the actual things that cater the needs of the customers like us by the lawful means. Everyone can claim the ownership of the original ideas. How in the world can you prove you are the original creator? You can't unless you register it with the Patent and Trademark Office. Ideas are so abstract that they might exist decades ago, but there is just no way anyone can prove their previous existence.
Posted by iRhapsody (46 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I don't know..
I see Windows 95, I see a bastardized Mac OS.
I see Internet Explorer, I see a huge imitiation of Netscape.
I look at Vista and I see an imitations of OS X.
I see Windows Media Player 11, I see imitations of Itunes.

I can go on and on..

Based on the points above....Tell me how can you see MS as
being original?? Point is they've been the follower all along and
almost never the leader. Except when it comes to taking its
customers money.
Posted by ServedUp (413 comments )
Link Flag
Wise Learn by Himself,Less Wise Learn From Experience,Beast Learn By Nature
Nowadays, it is not all about who came up with the original ideas; it is all about who executes the ideas and produces the actual things that cater the needs of the customers like us by the lawful means. Everyone can claim the ownership of the original ideas. How in the world can you prove you are the original creator? You can't unless you register it with the Patent and Trademark Office. Ideas are so abstract that they might exist decades ago, but there is just no way anyone can prove their previous existence.
Posted by iRhapsody (46 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I don't know..
I see Windows 95, I see a bastardized Mac OS.
I see Internet Explorer, I see a huge imitiation of Netscape.
I look at Vista and I see an imitations of OS X.
I see Windows Media Player 11, I see imitations of Itunes.

I can go on and on..

Based on the points above....Tell me how can you see MS as
being original?? Point is they've been the follower all along and
almost never the leader. Except when it comes to taking its
customers money.
Posted by ServedUp (413 comments )
Link Flag
Good thinking
I agree with you Billy, keep it up
Posted by hussain_sawalha (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good thinking
I agree with you Billy, keep it up
Posted by hussain_sawalha (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Its the people, stupid!
Microsoft thinks it can program its way out of any problem. If I was working for MS right now, I wouldn't the article was very flattering. Rather, it seems as if the leaders are saying our people can't think for themselves and can only follow directions. Well, isn't that what you hired them for? You can't expect them now to have an "entrepreneurial spirit" about the business, new products, etc. They are not risk takers at heart. If they did, they would be working for themselves or someone else.
Posted by HEIDIMM (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Its the people, stupid!
Microsoft thinks it can program its way out of any problem. If I was working for MS right now, I wouldn't the article was very flattering. Rather, it seems as if the leaders are saying our people can't think for themselves and can only follow directions. Well, isn't that what you hired them for? You can't expect them now to have an "entrepreneurial spirit" about the business, new products, etc. They are not risk takers at heart. If they did, they would be working for themselves or someone else.
Posted by HEIDIMM (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's the people, stupid!
Microsoft thinks it can program its way out of any problem. If I was working for MS right now, I wouldn't the article was very flattering. Rather, it seems as if the leaders are saying our people can't think for themselves and can only follow directions. Well, isn't that what you hired them for? You can't expect them now to have an "entrepreneurial spirit" about the business, new products, etc. They are not risk takers at heart. If they did, they would be working for themselves or someone else.
Posted by HEIDIMM (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's the people, stupid!
Microsoft thinks it can program its way out of any problem. If I was working for MS right now, I wouldn't the article was very flattering. Rather, it seems as if the leaders are saying our people can't think for themselves and can only follow directions. Well, isn't that what you hired them for? You can't expect them now to have an "entrepreneurial spirit" about the business, new products, etc. They are not risk takers at heart. If they did, they would be working for themselves or someone else.
Posted by HEIDIMM (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My opinion of what MS needs to do
Let's just say that know someone that works at MS. There is some smart people there, but the majority are idiots, lots of people that care about how they dress, look and are perceived in the public, over their job role. Lots of people that act and use a combination of macro/micro management styles, but I havn't a clue for they got their jobs, maybe favors or friends. There is a lot of young blood that still has to prove them selfs, majority of the people that had a lot of skills, while not all, left to enjoy their millions, start their own ventures, retire, or try doing something else for a different employer.

After a while everyone gets borred, even as we see Bill Gates, he doesn't want to stick around anymore, he lost interest.

MS made a mistake of trying to do too much and put their hands into too many different pots, if you know what I mean.

They need to re-concentrate on their core products that got them where they are today and on other core future products. They just try to do too much and I think this is because there is so much competition. MS is being fired at from all angels and they feel like they have a need to defend and challenge every bullet fired at them.

They are going to run out of resoursces and time and fall behind and in the long run loose money if they continue to do that. They need a war plan that has strategy and make sense, because you can react to every single tease trown at you. There is plenty of floppy products that MS and other companies put out through out their history, even Apple, but it seems like that average is increasing for MS and not going the other way.
Posted by rmiecznik (224 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My opinion of what MS needs to do
Let's just say that know someone that works at MS. There is some smart people there, but the majority are idiots, lots of people that care about how they dress, look and are perceived in the public, over their job role. Lots of people that act and use a combination of macro/micro management styles, but I havn't a clue for they got their jobs, maybe favors or friends. There is a lot of young blood that still has to prove them selfs, majority of the people that had a lot of skills, while not all, left to enjoy their millions, start their own ventures, retire, or try doing something else for a different employer.

After a while everyone gets borred, even as we see Bill Gates, he doesn't want to stick around anymore, he lost interest.

MS made a mistake of trying to do too much and put their hands into too many different pots, if you know what I mean.

They need to re-concentrate on their core products that got them where they are today and on other core future products. They just try to do too much and I think this is because there is so much competition. MS is being fired at from all angels and they feel like they have a need to defend and challenge every bullet fired at them.

They are going to run out of resoursces and time and fall behind and in the long run loose money if they continue to do that. They need a war plan that has strategy and make sense, because you can react to every single tease trown at you. There is plenty of floppy products that MS and other companies put out through out their history, even Apple, but it seems like that average is increasing for MS and not going the other way.
Posted by rmiecznik (224 comments )
Reply Link Flag
your stupid, I've been hearing this argument for 10 years now. suck your assumptions and "I know better" mentality. cause MS is worth billions... and your NOT.
Posted by shadfurman (67 comments )
Link Flag
Microsoft's "looks beyond Gates for new ideas"...
... should be centered on the "development continuum foundation" upon which the development and subsequent launching of "[Lotus] 1-2-3 and VisiCalc" was based"; how well Microsoft grapples with competition (OPEN OFFICE.ORG) in the immediate and distant future can best be addressed by "Ray Ozzie" himself; and, with regards to earlier comments... in his own words; "I think Bill and [Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer] know that sometimes the gray hair can be advantageous," Ozzie said. "If you've been through positive experiences like launching [Lotus] 1-2-3 and VisiCalc, as well as sobering experiences like being at IBM with [Louis] Gerstner when the desktop business hit the wall at Lotus -- it can be very helpful moving forward," Ozzie said."

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.informationweek.com/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=C4BNPIO3LKQF4QSNDLOSKHSCJUNN2JVN?articleID=189401809&#38;queryText=ozzie" target="_newWindow">http://www.informationweek.com/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=C4BNPIO3LKQF4QSNDLOSKHSCJUNN2JVN?articleID=189401809&#38;queryText=ozzie</a>

Maybe, just maybe... Ray Ozzie may be able to provide the Microsoft Corporation with the "Silver Bullet" it may very well need to keep the competition in its rear view mirror!
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft's "looks beyond Gates for new ideas"...
... should be centered on the "development continuum foundation" upon which the development and subsequent launching of "[Lotus] 1-2-3 and VisiCalc" was based"; how well Microsoft grapples with competition (OPEN OFFICE.ORG) in the immediate and distant future can best be addressed by "Ray Ozzie" himself; and, with regards to earlier comments... in his own words; "I think Bill and [Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer] know that sometimes the gray hair can be advantageous," Ozzie said. "If you've been through positive experiences like launching [Lotus] 1-2-3 and VisiCalc, as well as sobering experiences like being at IBM with [Louis] Gerstner when the desktop business hit the wall at Lotus -- it can be very helpful moving forward," Ozzie said."

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.informationweek.com/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=C4BNPIO3LKQF4QSNDLOSKHSCJUNN2JVN?articleID=189401809&#38;queryText=ozzie" target="_newWindow">http://www.informationweek.com/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=C4BNPIO3LKQF4QSNDLOSKHSCJUNN2JVN?articleID=189401809&#38;queryText=ozzie</a>

Maybe, just maybe... Ray Ozzie may be able to provide the Microsoft Corporation with the "Silver Bullet" it may very well need to keep the competition in its rear view mirror!
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Fron Start-Up to Mature
Microsoft is going through a growth change that I'm surprised took this long!

Bill is great as an entrepreneur but Microsoft is changing from a growth company to a value company and that's no easy task to do!

Can't wait for Vista to come out ... and get it over with. Pull it out into the light and shoot the beast dead! I'm betting their next OS version will be a good one, or the Company will be a sorry shell of itself.
Posted by dragonbite (452 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Fron Start-Up to Mature
Microsoft is going through a growth change that I'm surprised took this long!

Bill is great as an entrepreneur but Microsoft is changing from a growth company to a value company and that's no easy task to do!

Can't wait for Vista to come out ... and get it over with. Pull it out into the light and shoot the beast dead! I'm betting their next OS version will be a good one, or the Company will be a sorry shell of itself.
Posted by dragonbite (452 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Close the Gates
Enough about Gates. Will M$ survive? Who knows. The people
brought it are clueless about computing.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.network54.com/Forum/7505/" target="_newWindow">http://www.network54.com/Forum/7505/</a>

Programmer #A-5 of www.totallyparanoia.com
Posted by fakespam (239 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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