If you do business with or compete with Microsoft, Mary Jo Foley’s new book Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft Plans to Stay Relevant in the Post-Gates Era is an absolute must read.
Mary Jo writes the popular All About Microsoft blog and has been a long time Microsoft watcher. She’s often complimentary of Microsoft but can be brutally critical when she wants to be. Overall, I’ve found her to be balanced, thoughtful, and usually enlightening.
While her blog is usually about stuff happening in the moment, the book Microsoft 2.0 does a great job of looking backwards and summarizing how Microsoft got to this point (along the many dimensions of their business) and then looks forward and explains where she thinks their priorities are and who is or will be responsible for them. I found her long laundry list of key people and initiatives within Microsoft particularly useful.
Mary Jo wrote this before the conclusion (at least the present conclusion) of the Microsoft / Yahoo! semi-attempted merger so there are some things she’s left hanging, but from my perspective she gets a lot of things right. It’s easy to get lost in all the Google / Microsoft / Yahoo! / Apple consumery noise and forget about the incredible business software, infrastructure server software, and operating systems businesses that Microsoft has built (and now has to defend); Mary Jo does a great job of separating the various parts of Microsoft’s businesses and articulating their strengths and weaknesses.
I’ve read a lot of books on Microsoft over the years. The only other one that I’d put in the absolutely must read category is Partnering with Microsoft: How to Make Money in Trusted Partnership with the Global Software Powerhouse by Ted Dinsmore and Edward O’Connor.
Nice job Mary Jo!