How to Kill Your Software Business by Copying Microsoft

When you’re a multi-billion dollar corporation that owns over 90% of the computer operating system market you can be forgiven for doing things differently. I mean Warren Buffet can smoke cigars rolled with $100 bills without worrying about where his next meal is coming from but not the rest of us. Microsoft doesn’t have anything to worry about for some time to come.

Append you company’s name to every known permutation of the products you release

Would you like Microsoft Windows Live Messenger with that Microsoft Windows Live HotMail? Every product they release comes with boatload of corporate mumbo jumbo right in the product title. It’s like naming all 10 of your children George regardless of gender and giving them 5 middle names that are sometimes original and sometimes variations of others. The only product that comes to mind as an exception is Zune and the word “Microsoft” stuck to it like stench.

Give your customers a complicated and expensive pricing structure

One thing about Microsoft is that they’ll always try to sell you cripple ware and provide you with a complicated upgrade path. It’s rarely enough that they sell you software riddled with bugs that introduce security holes into your computer. Maybe it’s to support an army of software engineers to keep the gigantic flaming mess of Microsoft code but it rarely feels like money well spent.

Release late, release rarely

The best way to keep a multi-billion dollar behemoth floating is to release your products every now and then. This is a brilliant way to keep increasing margins on the products you sell. With Microsoft this comes with the added bonus that products become more stable as the years progress.

Buy startups and technology that will get ruined or never see the light of day

I can’t even begin counting the companies acquired by Microsoft that disappeared into the great abyss of unreleased products. Part of it is because the new technology gets bogged down into great big software design committee that Microsoft has become. Integrating new technology into the existing product line up is sure to be a nightmare as well. It’s like a poker bonus.

Never ever use open source software

If presented with an open source product, always develop your own software that more or less does the same thing only worse. You also get bonus points for legal threats and even more for unleashing Steve Ballmer on them. This is an excellent way to build good will in the community.

Trash talk all competitors at every opportunity

One of the best ways to get good publicity for your products is to trash talk your competitors or open source alternatives at every opportunity. This is essentially the foundation of Steve Ballmer’s career and has established him as an authority on quality software.