Intel, Microsoft Records Make Trust a Tough SellBy David Morgenstern | Print
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Shifting roadmaps and poor execution of plans give customers and partners little reason to trust Intel and Microsoft, even as execs talk up what they say is ahead.The foremost companies of our industry this year look to be having trouble executing on plans to provide technologies promised in ballyhooed promotions.
But as customers and partners complain about changes and failed strategies, the response from corporate executives remains the same: Trust us!
That simple, don't-worry-be-happy messageso easy to give as well as to receive when things are going wellbecomes less credible and more worrisome with each tweak of a product roadmap.
The company was expected to ship sample chips to partners in the summer, but nothing was released. In mid-August, Intel said it would delay the product.
The company instead was "evolving its development plans and won't bring our initial product to market this year," a spokeswoman told
Well, that evolution came to a dead end this month as the company pulled the plug on the chip and involvement in the market.
The company now points to its advancement of performance, power-handling and production capabilities with forthcoming dual-core processors, due later in 2005 and 2006. The transition to multiple cores aims to address the growing problems of current leakage and power consumption found in the faster chips made using the company's smaller fabrication process.
Next Page: Putting on a game face.
But this summer, the company admitted that a manufacturing flaw in the chip would prevent customers from gaining the advertised functionality. And Intel later stated it will never provide the support.
Still, a company spokesman described this move as a "business decision," adding that system vendors "told us that they didn't need this feature at this point."
These shifting roadmaps and mistakes have sapped developer and partner confidence in the company, which has been admitted by Intel executives.
At the Intel Developer Forum in early September, chief operating officer Paul Otellini apologized to a keynote audience, calling the problems "some fumbles." He said future goals will be more closely aligned with capabilities.
However, from the continuing shifts in plans since that admission, and the company's reported hazy approach to shipment forecasts, it looks as if little has changed behind the Intel curtain.
Let's face it, offering a target of a year for a product will improve shipment performance statistics; it's just not very useful data. Consider if airlines started counting their on-time performance for flights by the day instead of by the minute, we wouldn't have much to judge by, would we?
Next Page: Microsoft's sorry record.
He said a "Longhorn wave" is headed our way, with some parts arriving sooner and others later. And others even much later.
A year ago at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference, company officials detailed the many new featuressome 700 or moredue for Longhorn and reaffirmed its schedule, albeit years in the future. Developers were handed a CD with a technical preview.
That plan became hash over the course of the next 12 months, and the entire project was reorganized to become a "wave" rollout rather than the previous tsunami strategy. Rather than acknowledging a development and marketing failure, Ballmer would have us believe that this change (what some call "Shorthorn") is a good thing. And that's likely so given the raw state of the components.
To be honest, Microsoft should find a new name for its upcoming releases of Windows, since "Longhorn" is now a misnomer. The Longhorn project has had so many facelifts over the past year or two, it's difficult to recognize.
Also evident at the Gartner event was the confidence gap between customer expectations on security and the marketing messages delivered by Microsoft executives.
"We've learned more about security than anyone else in the world," Ballmer said at ITxpo last week. "We need to focus in on a few things. We need to engineer in fewer vulnerabilities going forward. We have new development tools to spot security vulnerabilities. We will release those to users."
A "few" things? Who is Ballmer kidding? Nobody.
"Trust is not a word that I would use" in relation to Microsoft's promises on security, one developer said following the keynote address, adding that she had no reason to trust Microsoft because it "hasn't delivered anything to date" to improve the condition of security.
The condition of Windows security is a joke, or it would be one if the issue didn't cost every user on the Internet and impact the workflow of every IT manager in large and small enterprises every single day. Or as revealed last week, cause PC makers to try to improve things on their own with a third-party security software bundle.
So, how can these companies regain our trust? Simple: Tell us what will be done and when. And then do it.
Of course, that's the toughest part.