Microsoft Needs Some Lessons in Lean

I could only shake my head in sadness and disbelief at a story this week about Microsoft.

            This long-time producer of one of the most widely used consumer products – the Windows operating system – ought to, by now, have a better appreciation of what constitutes value from a customer’s point of view and the waste involved in not getting it right the first time.

            Instead, we get this:

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp. warned of four security flaws in its software that it categorized as 'critical' on Tuesday that could allow attackers to gain control of a user's computer.

Microsoft, whose Windows operating system runs some 95 percent of the world's computers, issued the patches as part of its monthly security bulletin.

The world's biggest software maker defines a flaw as 'critical' when it could allow a damaging Internet worm to replicate without the user's doing anything to the machine.

The company said the 'critical' patches fixed three holes in its Windows operating system and another in its Content Management Server product. Microsoft also issued another security update for Windows it rated at the lower threat level of 'important.'

The fixes come a little more than a week after it released a patch outside of the regular monthly update to plug a security hole related to an animated cursor that hackers had used to launch attacks after users clicked on links to malicious Web sites.

The company has been working to improve the security and reliability of its software as more and more malicious software target weaknesses in Windows and other Microsoft software.

            Why doesn’t a company as business-savvy as Microsoft see the costs and wastes involved in constantly having to issue patches to fix problems that never should have existed in the first place? Not to mention the ill will that keeps growing among its customers as a result of those problems.


            I’m tempted to send them a copy of our book Lean Software Strategies: Proven Techniques for Managers and Developers. But I’m not convinced anyone there would actually read it.



Ralph Bernstein said...

4/13/2007 1:51:05 PM
Re: Microsoft Needs Some Lessons in Lean

I see two things going on here. One is what I call the "arrogance of success", which is certainly not exclusive to this company (ask the auto industry). But the other is the almost cult-like fervor of hackers to attach anything associated with Microsoft. Not that I'm defending Microsoft (far from it), but I wonder how many companies could stand up to an army of people who take great delight in any slight flaw in a complex product.

Ralph Bernstein said...

4/13/2007 4:30:05 PM
Re: Microsoft Needs Some Lessons in Lean
By: psabilla

Agreed. To be fair to Microsoft, however, there are internal efforts going on right now, but are moving slowly. The efforts are not on the software side, initially, but might move there after wins are made in the other parts of the organization. Best of luck to them. It'll take time, but there is urgency in implementing Lean and Six Sigma at Microsoft.

Note: I'm not an employee there. But, I have several Master Black Belt friends employed at Microsoft.