The Microsoft Way

The Microsoft Way

by Randall E. Stross

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"An engaging look at Microsoft's success"—The San Francisco Chronicle


"An engaging look at Microsoft's success"—The San Francisco Chronicle

Editorial Reviews

Wall Street Journal
"Stross's The Microsoft Way shows us the inside of the software giant's decision-making processes. The author had unlimited access to Microsoft's archives and employees, including CEO Bill Gates".--"The Wall Street Journal".
Boston Globe
"Lucid and entertaining . . . Microsoft-haters who read Stross will be unpleasantly surprised by what he found".--"The Boston Globe".
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
To critics, Bill Gates's Microsoft Inc. is the apotheosis of brute-force ruthless marketing, but in this lively, independent-minded report, Stross (Steve Jobs and the Next Big Thing) finds a different explanation for Microsoft's success: Gates's strategy of hiring the smartest software developers, keeping their allegiance with lucrative stock options, fostering an egalitarian creative atmosphere and perpetuating the identity of small working groups. A business professor at San Jose State University in California, Stross had unfettered access to Gates, his employees and the company's internal files, making this a privileged, revealing window on Microsoft's inner workings. He charts the firm's long, rocky struggle to win broad consumer acceptance of CD-ROMs, as well as the saga of Microsoft's bestselling multimedia encyclopedia, Encarta. Microsoft was caught unprepared by the advent of the Internet, and its failed attempt to outdo a small but feisty rival, Intuit, in the personal finance software market, demonstrates that Gates is far from infallible, yet Microsoft has swiftly adapted to an Internet-centered software universe, which to Stross signifies a company constantly learning as it grows.
Library Journal
Business historian Stross follows up his Steve Jobs and the Next Big Thing (LJ 12/93), which was critical of Jobs, with this favorable portrait of Bill Gates and Microsoft's business strategies in the 1990s. Filling a gap in the literature on Microsoft and Gates by focusing on relatively recent Microsoft strategic corporate successes with CD-ROMs, the "Information Superhighway," and overcoming Department of Justice antitrust concerns (which continue, however), Stross's work will nonetheless disappoint both Gates and computing aficionados. Unlike Jobs, Gates and Microsoft top executives cooperated with Stross, who defends his pro-Microsoft tone, claiming nothing else was possible given his findings. Stross discusses only the beginnings of the Netscape-Microsoft browser rivalry, the most serious challenge to Microsoft today. The last section argues interestingly that much of the animosity toward Gates and Microsoft is the result of "our collective reaction to [Gates's wealth]." Despite drawbacks, this is recommended for business collections.
— Michael Neubert, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Kirkus Reviews
An offbeat overview of Microsoft, the Johnny-come-lately enterprise that dominates the widening world of PC programming and is now laying careful plans to make itself a force to be reckoned with in the as yet undefined field of multimedia.

Granted open access to the company's files and staff, Stross (Steve Jobs and the Next Big Thing, 1993) eschewed a traditional corporate history in favor of a four-part audit that puts fast- growing Microsoft and the aspirations of Bill Gates (its quirky cofounder) in an appreciably clearer perspective than that to be found in the grumbling of green-eyed rivals or the clueless complaints of would-be trustbusters. The author (Business/San Jose State Univ.) first examines the company's personnel policies and operational practices; he concludes that hiring brainy people for financially rewarding as well as professionally challenging assignments, and a willingness to commit sizable sums to R&D, rank among the principal secrets of Microsoft's continuing success. Stross goes on to review how this Washington State firm with global reach has conducted a patient campaign to break into consumer outlets (most notably, with a CD-ROM encyclopedia dubbed Encarta), and the stiff competition it faces from Intuit in personal-finance software. Covered as well are Microsoft's efforts to develop a commercial stake in interactive TV (an endeavor the company's chief scientist likens to playing a game of 500-card stud), its late start in the Internet sweepstakes, and the unwelcome attention of Justice Department attorneys whose predecessors watched the high- tech marketplace do what they could not in over a decade of trying: downsize and dismember IBM.

Stross finishes with a jarring chapter on the philanthropic purposes to which a still young Gates might eventually put his billions. Apart from this, a perceptive briefing on a consequential corporation that arguably qualifies as a national treasure.

Product Details

Basic Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.36(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.89(d)

Meet the Author

Randall E. Stross is a professor at San Jose State University, and a contributing writer for Fortune magazine. His analyses of the computer industries have also appeared in The New Republic and U.S. News & World Report. He is the author of six books, including Steve Jobs and the NeXT Big Thing and Bulls in the China Shop.

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