Uncertainty already clouding outlook

Microsoft Corp. is legendary for its FUD — the industry-standard tactics of swirling fear, uncertainty and doubt around a competitor’s product so customers hesitate to buy and the company can catch up with its rival’s technology.

With the possibility of an antitrust breakup looming, Microsoft must now combat the FUD around its own future.

Observers say the uncertainty stems not only from the possible breakup, but also from the industry’s shift toward the Internet rather than the personal computer as the focal point for new software.

“It really doesn’t matter what the DOJ is going to do in the scheme of things,” said Jim Cannavino, chief executive officer of Issaquah-based CyberSafe Corp. and a former IBM executive. “Microsoft is scrambling to stay alive.”

Industry observers are most worried about Microsoft’s ability to keep its prized asset — its people — from leaving. If the drain that started some two years ago continues, some say the company could be in serious danger. They also worry about that outside software developers may move away from relying on Windows.

Usama Fayyad, a Microsoft alum who left earlier this year to found digiMine.com, said his concern is that Microsoft will tread too carefully as it maneuvers to avoid a breakup.

“The biggest irony here is that one of their biggest strengths is now the biggest weakness,” he said. “They’ve collected this very large set of energetic, entrepreneurial risk-takers. They would be the first kind to join a new revolution, and that’s really still the dot-com world,” he said.

“Its own people are just dying to drive in these new directions, which Microsoft isn’t pursuing.”

Published by: Puget Sound Business Journal
Author: M. Sharon Baker


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