Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Microsoft is smarter than you are

Scientific American has just published an on-line article discussing the deep thinkers Bill & Co. have hired in the last decade. Cleverly titled A Confederacy of Smarts, it does more than just trumpet the huge potential of hiring the smartest folks on the planet. Also mentioned are the ties from research to the real world, or more importantly, the lack of ties to many real issues. Here's a quote you'll probably read most about, even if it isn't the central thrust of the author.

"Microsoft has had some of the brightest computer scientists the world has ever produced, people who understand security better than anybody, and yet they fail to think fundamentally about an entirely new way that computers could run that makes them infinitely more secure and virus-free," notes John Seely Brown, former director of Xerox PARC. "For some reason, they haven't been tackling some of the most fundamental problems, and I'm confused by that."

I have to wonder though, are Microsoft's shareholders getting enough value out of this quarter-billion dollar per year investment? Alternatively, if society is gaining some value for employing all of these deep thinkers, should shareholders view this as a non-profit venture, giving to society at large with the potential for a future payday?

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