031. Synchronizing Windows and Office (the First Time) [Chapter V], by @stevesi …rdcoresoftware.learningbyshipping.com/p/031-synchron…
2/ The spring/summer of 1994 was a weird time at Microsoft. Business was going gangbusters. It appeared as though we would make a "remarkable" pivot to the internet (though the story would not be told for 2 years). BUT strategically and culturally there was a lot of confusion.
3/ We were selling tons of Windows 3.x but all attention was on the delayed release of Chicago (Win95). We were selling tons of Office 4.x but Office had "dribbled out" one new product at a time. Lotus even made fun of us in an ad. Lotus SmartSuite. Five Blue Chip Windows Applications. No IO
4/ Strategically there were tons of questions about Chicago "versus" Windows NT and Cairo (which would soon be "cancelled").

I was 18 months into my job and looking for a new one I found myself between all these teams. Further delays expected for Chicago ship.
5/ I was visiting family in Miami (before it was hip, but it was july so it was really HOT). I got a copy of the new SmartSuite. I did a buzzsaw technical analysis of truth behind "working together". What a mess. Did that really matter though--shared code mattered to us *a lot*. Table comparing copy paste across SmartSuite apps. Messy! No
6/ That led meeting the new head of the newly formed Office Product Unit. There was a "business unit" organization in place and this was a new approach to organizing, returning to some of the old functional features. (This is a partial org chart). Org chart.
7/ In a sense I was raised in Applications culture by my first team (that did the C++ libraries). But I was not entirely qualified for the job.

I learned a few lessons. Read about it in the post. Join almost 10,000 email recipients. It is great fun. //END …rdcoresoftware.learningbyshipping.com

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More from @stevesi

4 Jun
Twitter launches its first subscription service // Whenever a company pivots to subscription, we can assume teams spent inordinate amount of decks/whiteboards drafting “subscriber only” features. It is easy to second guess all this or … 1/ cnbc.com/2021/06/03/twi…
2/ quickly arrive at come your own favorite subscription offering. There’s always a chance company missed/s an idea, but given the consternation, it is unlikely. What’s missing is a longer term context for the offer (goals, features) v. immediate goal of pivot/transition.
3/ Along with features, the team will endlessly debate price points, number of offerings, and upsell strategies. If you use the 4 P’s framework, this pivot is literally the stuff dreams (and stress) are made of. It takes time to play out. // END
Read 4 tweets
4 Jun
“My Performance Review (and An Expense Report)”— How do you figure out if you’re doing a good job in a staff role like the one I had when I was billg’s technical assistant. It is more difficult than it might seem. New post in “Hardcore Software” 1/ …rdcoresoftware.learningbyshipping.com/p/030-my-perfo…
2/ Tempting to think you sit down with the CEO, talk through specific goals, then measure progress during 1:1s and so on.

But all of that is very high overhead for a CEO, especially one not pre-disposed to management :-)

As a staff person you want to amplify performance…
3/ But if doing so takes a lot of time and effort from the principle it might be costly. So you have to adapt your work style to their style and just “deal with it”.

That’s what I did. So we met almost never even though we shared a wall—we used email/ writing.
Read 5 tweets
2 Jun
In Peter Drucker's 1954 classic "The Practice of Management" he described the role of the CEO as being a combination of the right level of outside, inside, and action focus arrived at through management by objectives. 1/ excerpt.
In a later work this is refined (American CEO series in WSJ) he described the importance of an outside role and then a bridge to inside. 2/ wsj.com/articles/SB110… CEOs have ultimate responsibility for the work of everybody
This is a great framework but the problem is finding all of these in one person can be daunting or impossible resulting in disappointment/failure.

Also holds not just for CEO but for any sort of divisional or business leadership role (eg in charge of a whole biz). 3/
Read 5 tweets
1 Jun
With the excitement over the "Friends" reunion, I wanted to share this video, "The Windows 95 Video Guide" which was released with Windows 95 in August 1995. It aged just about as well as Friends. 1/

Windows 95 Video Guide (1995)
2/ If you're curious about just how much "crap" people went through to use a computer 25 years ago then this is a wonderful time capsule.

There's a section on 20 FAQs and each one is a tech support nightmare. Also, constant reminders about tech support in general.

Example: How does Windows 95 connect to the internet?Three option: The Microsoft Network, Microsoft PlusManually connect: obtain and internet PPP or SLIP account Us
3/ There are other fantastic questions such as "Can Windows 95 run Macintosh software" tl;dr, NO.
Read 6 tweets
31 May
The list of things people repeat as if they are evil or some secret plan continues to surprise me: “ads”, private label, loss leaders, loyalty cards/benefits, price incentives…Amazon generational innovation is in distribution and efficiency, like every mass market retailer ever.
October 2003. What did Walmart do? Focus on distribution and efficiency. Everything they did had been done before, just not as well.
Set in 1990 -- Walmart competing with legendary K-Mart.
Read 10 tweets
31 May
Telling the Untold Story in "Hardcore Software" (inside the rise and fall of the PC revolution) tells the story of Microsoft's famous pivot to the Internet. Writing on @substack draws out fun stories from a community of readers adding even more. Example: …rdcoresoftware.learningbyshipping.com/p/029-telling-…
2/ Shared the behind the scenes details of a cover story in July '96 BusinessWeek magazine giving a timeline of events leading to Microsoft's big bet on open internet technologies (aka "embrace and extend"). Story opened with this quote from the employee newsletter, _MicroNews_. Magazine cover of businessweekFirst page of article. Has "Inside Microsoft: The untol
3/ I got a note from former Microsoftie Dean Ballard, former developer on the TrueType team (and among other things named Trebuchet typeface). Turns out DeanBal authored "Battle Hymn" which he documents here including a fun series of MicroNews letters. deanbal.net/hymn/hymn.htm Full text of Battle Hymn reproduced from the original MicroN
Read 8 tweets

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