The software giant is grappling with a mid-life crisis
Jun 9th 2011 | SAN FRANCISCO | from The Economist print edition
COMPARED with IBM, Microsoft is a mere stripling. Founded in 1975, it rose swiftly to dominate the world of personal computing with its Windows operating system and Office suite of word-processing and other productivity tools. But the company is now showing some worrying signs of middle-age fatigue. In particular, it is struggling to find a growth strategy that will enthuse disgruntled shareholders.
Grumbles are understandable. Since Steve Ballmer took over from Bill Gates as chief executive in 2000, Microsoft’s share price has languished and the company has lost its reputation as a tech trend-setter. It has been left behind in hot areas such as search and social networking by younger companies, some of which love to thumb their noses at their older rival. Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, recently proclaimed that leadership in the tech world had passed from Microsoft and others to a “Gang of Four” fast-growing, consumer-oriented businesses: Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook.
抱怨是可以理解的。自从2000年史蒂夫??鲍尔默(Steve Ballmer)从比尔??盖茨手中接掌微软总裁一职以后，微软的股价就一蹶不振，公司也失去了作为科技弄潮儿的声誉。在诸如搜索和社交网络等热门领域中，它被年轻一代的公司甩在了后面，这些公司中的有一些热衷于嘲笑这位年纪大的对手。谷歌的执行主席埃里克??施密特(Eric Schmidt)最近宣称科技世界的领导力量已经从微软和其他公司传递到一个发展迅速、以消费者为导向的“四人组”公司手中：谷歌，苹果，亚马逊和脸谱网。
Few would quibble with that. The question is: what, if anything, can Microsoft do to change it? In at least some respects, the company appears to be suffering from similar ailments to those that laid IBM low before Lou Gerstner was hired in 1993 to get it back on its feet. These include arrogance bred of dominance of a particular area—mainframe computers at IBM, personal computers at Microsoft—and internal fiefs that hamper swift change. For instance, the division that champions cloud computing must deal with one that is the cheerleader for Windows, which is likely to want computing to stay on desktops for as long as possible to maximise its own revenues.