The Microsoft Way

This book provides an illuminating account of Microsoft and the means by which it has become the most important software company in the world. It also exposes the facts behind the government's fight against Microsoft, revealing a frigh ening picture of government enforcers driven by envy. Stross shows that the cause of Microsoft's success is a grasp of the crucial importance of intelligence. He writes: ..."The deliberate way in which Gates has fashioned an organization that prizes smart people is the single most important and the most deliberately overlooked aspect of Microsoft's success." ...

Gates whom Stross describes as having "both technical and business antennae," has repeatedly set Microsoft on the right course. Realizing this, we can counter another common charge against Microsoft: that its success is unearned because it is out of proportion to the technical merits of its software. As Stross explains: "It is wrong to view Microsoft as a ferocious marketing machine – a characterization that implies that the company merely 'buys' additional market share with lavish expenditures in marketing that its competitors cannot afford. Instead we should characterize Microsoft as a ferocious learning machine." Microsoft's success has come from pursuing the right technologies at the right times – from turning great software ideas into actual software products. While its products are not always the best technically, they are often the best in a broader context which includes considerations of cost, timing and compatibility (both with other current systems and with older systems and software). Furthermore, much of Microsoft's profit has been reaped from investments in technologies, such as CD-ROMS and the Internet. Microsoft's success is primarily a business feat, not just a technological one, and as such it has certainly been earned.

Given its success, it is no surprise that Microsoft has come under the yoke ofantitrust. The Microsofl Way exposes the facts behind the government's antitrust suits against the company. Although Stross commits to no position on the morality and economics of antitrust is clear from the facts he presents that the government's motive throughout the investigations was envy and power lust, a desire to punish Microsoft for its success. ...

To save Microsoft, the first thing that is needed is a philosophic defense of Gates's moral right to his company. Microsoft must be defended on the ground that it has earned its success and that the government is punishing it for its virtues. But to make that case effectively, we must understand how Microsoft achieved its success and what its virtues are. The Microsoft Way lucidly illustrates just that.

(318 pages)

This review is courtesy of and copyright © by The Intellectual Activist.


  • The Microsoft Way, The Real Story of How the Company Outsmarts its Competition by Randall E. Stross. Stross blows away the fantasies promoted by Microsoft's enemies and identifies the real reasons that Microsoft succeeds: Rational, clear-thinking, intelligent, hard-working people, freedom, innovation, a grasp of the total market, an integration of short and long-term action and a relentless emphasis on profits.