Wired's December 2008 cover story is about Ray Ozzie and how he is trying to turn the Microsoft battleship. I was lucky enough to get interviewed for the article and a few of my quotes survived. In the article, Steven Levy describes Microsoft's current challenges and paints Ray as the man trying to "lead—or drag, if need be—a software giant with 90,000 employees, $60 billion in revenue, and an untold number of blue screens of death across a chasm."
I know it's unfair to think that a company with $18 billion in annual profits could be "in trouble" (GM wishes it were in that kind of trouble) but after the problems with Vista and the attention lavished on Google and the iPhone, I think that Microsoft felt humbled and demoralized. An athlete who thinks he's in a slump will not perform at full potential. What Microsoft needs to get out of its slump is to start winning, not just in terms of profits, but in the arena of public opinion. And one way to change public opinion is with a good narrative: Ray as an agent of change who brings redemption to a once-respected but now humbled competitor. It doesn't hurt that there's some truth to that story.