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The Microsoft Way: The Real Story Of How The Company Outsmarts Its Competition Paperback – August 18, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Stross, an academic business historian, was given unlimited access to interview Microsoft employees and managers and to rifle through most of Microsoft's corporate records. His main conclusion? That Microsoft's phenomenal success is due in large part to its consistent insistence on hiring the smartest people, and that much Microsoft bashing is reflective of an anti-intellectual strain in American culture. Whether you idolize or despise Microsoft, this book is well worth reading--especially if you are in any way responsible for hiring the best and the brightest for your company. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers 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.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley (August 18, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 020132797X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201327977
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #829,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
I've enjoyed reading most of this book and have taken a lot of interesting lessons away with me. The first 150 pages are especially good at illustrating how the company favored technical intelligence over business acumen and why some of the decisions made have paid off so well. This type of information readily applies to any work being done today and I would highly recommend it.
What I found odd was the amount of personal opinion included in the book rather than making this a more objective look at Microsoft. I'm not a Microsoft basher by any means - I use the products every day, program in VB, Microsoft's proprietary language, and genuinely like many of their products. I was just surprised to see the author include many personal opinions, blatantly claiming unfairness towards Microsoft when the context of the discussion already showed his point.
This personalization led me to reduce 4 stars to three. After a while it's just distracting and I had an urge to yell "Shut up and tell the story!" The story is very interesting, and I do recommend reading it. Just don't be surprised if you want to tell the author to shut up once in a while.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 29, 1996
Format: Hardcover
This is a `must-read' book for several different categories of people- businessmen, scholars, students and even philosophers- simply because it has a relevant message for just about everyone. However, it is scarcely what one would call a `conventional commentary', which may help explain why its central conclusion is so much at odds with conventional wisdom- that Microsoft (the software behemoth whose meteoric success in the brave new world of software technology is comparable only to the equally meteoric rise in the numbers of its detractors, who have accused the company of every conceivable unfair trade practice) did not acquire its dominant position through any illegal subterfuge or monopolistic bulldozing; rather, its success can be attributed to certain well-defined fundamentals, which, if understood and implemented properly (as Microsoft has obviously done), could well serve as the business model for other software companies, and perhaps for other companies that are likely to bloom in the uncertain economic future being shaped by rapidly emerging technologies.

As a social commentary, the biggest contribution of this book is that it offers a window to our lop-sided value system when we deal with fuzzy notions like `intelligence' and `smart'. As Mr. Stross, the author, points out, society's unfavorable perception of Microsoft is inextricably linked with the rampant anti-intellectualism pervasive in American society. This is not so far-fetched!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 31, 1998
Format: Paperback
After the distorted and hateful stories we have seen, this book is a relief. It seems that at the present time Microsoft stands for all that is evil. The unholy alliance surrounding the Axis Powers of Sun Micro and Netscape paints a picture of world domination by Microsoft which is utterly absurd and totally false. It is unfortunate that
Joel Klein of the DOJ is being educated by
such an obscure economist as Arthur, formerly of Stanford and a Palo Alto law firm, whose members are writing briefs for the DOJ..
As a taxpayer I regret that we have to pay for these pointless investigations which are sponsored by competitors who would do better improving their products so that they could compete with Microsoft. Unable to compete however, they run to the DOJ.
It is good to have a book that points out some of
the mischief emanating from Silicon Valley
and Redwood City. The book is recommneded readingfor all who do not despise Microsoft
for its intellectual excellence.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 23, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Although the book has certain flaws, I heartily recommend it because the author defends Microsoft on the basis of its
virtues: that Mr. Gates hires intelligent individuals and
employs them for their rational capacity to create. Part
one, titled "Microsoft Basics," is in three sections:
"Sitting and Thinking," "Smarts," and "The Model in Their
Head," where Mr. Stross argues that Microsoft is founded on
"old logic skills," which is the reason he names for
Microsoft's dominance in the marketplace. The author ties
the attacks against Microsoft to an anti-intellectual
mentality in America and he demonstrates that the attacks
are ridiculous because they are baseless. Mr. Stross
indicates that Mr. Gates and Microsoft are hugely successful
because they reject this disdain for rationality and use
their smarts as the key to their success. For these reasons
the book is worth reading.

The flaws in the book bare their ugly head whenever the
author strays from his own field, which is history, into
economic analysis--Mr. Stross' economics are thoroughly
socialist. Fortunately, he mostly stays on topic in the
main part of the book, but the afterword "Legacies"
contains nearly every major fallacy of economics spouted by
the collectivists.
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