> Microsoft has a wonderfully lucrative cash cow that allows them to not be successful at their other endeavors (with success for this argument being defined as a similar market share as their primary business).
Even though you say "cash cow" I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you mean both Windows and Office. It's fine that you haven't heard of all of MS's other billion dollar businesses, but perhaps that should leave you feeling unqualified to make sweeping commentary?
Here are some products off the top of my head that you've clearly never heard of:
* Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS)
* Office Communications Server (OCS)
* Dynamics CRM
* SQL Server
BPOS has 40 million paying customers compared to Google Apps' 25 million total customers (which presumably only a tiny fraction of which are paying).
SharePoint is part of the Office division but is an entirely new product driving billions of dollars of revenue.
There's no reason for you to have heard of any of this. I only know all about MS because I work for MS. But there's also no reason for you to talk about how MS reminds you of the "starving artist dilemma."
Getting all your tech news from places like HN or reddit can be harmful, they distort reality significantly.
Paul Graham wrote something similar about 3 years ago so it's not a new deduction: http://www.paulgraham.com/microsoft.html
I don't think that's the case with any other company or subject.
I don't recommend any news sites in particular. I would look for the blogs / sites of competent people in the industry I'm interested in and watch those.
Of the products you mentioned, the only one I've never heard of is Dynamics CRM. I use all of the others daily.
But you are correct in your general summation of my statement. I made a generalization about Microsoft based on public consensus; that their biggest success is in markets which they've already saturated.
That statement doesn't hold up as well when you actually start to break down all of their products and services.
I don't think it's a stretch for him to say that Office and Windows are the cash cows---if that is what he meant.
And besides - most of those rely on one or both of Windows and Office.
Out of curiosity HN - who are the startups taking on Sharepoint? I don't think I ever hear anything good about it --- but it seems to be growing like a weed.
But that doesn't mean they're going to close their doors.
But at the same time it doesn't make Ballmer look very good to investors and the directors should be thinking about this since they are responsible to the investors (so is Ballmer).