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Can Microsoft Regain Its Edge In Software?

When it comes to the software industry, few academics have the knowledge and expertise of Michael Cusumano. Specializing in strategy, product development and entrepreneurship in the software industry, Cusumano is Sloan Management Review Distinguished Professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management and has authored eight books, including "Software: What Every Manager, Programmer and Entrepreneur Must Know to Thrive and Survive in Good Times and Bad." He also has consulted for more than 50 major companies worldwide and has been an adviser to numerous startups.

In an interview with John Roberts, CRN director of editorial research, Cusumano gave his views on the delay of Windows Vista, the escalating battle between Microsoft and Google, and how the Redmond, Wash., software giant can regain its competitive edge in software.

CRN: You have said that the latest delay in the release of Vista shows that Microsoft has "lost its way." Please explain.

CUSUMANO: I was referring to the early days when Microsoft had small teams of excellent people who could build products in a timely fashion. In those days, Windows was still 4 million or 5 million lines of code, with maybe 200 developers. But things have wildly expanded, and they've become bogged down by teams of thousands of engineers and tens of millions of lines of code in their products. And these days, they seem to be doing things more for strategic and political reasons, not for technology. Microsoft clearly made some adjustments after [postponing] Longhorn, but the newest delay in Vista suggests that they have not really made any fundamental changes.

CRN: So you think it's more a case of rearranging deck chairs, so to speak, rather than Microsoft changing its business practices.

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