Note to FT reporters: credulity required

Once again, there’s a front page report in the Financial Times which takes at face value a number of meaningless statements from a major corporation CEO. (Oddly, the online version doesn’t contain some of the material in the print version, which I quote.)

Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer gets on the front page of the FT to declare that his company has overhauled its core software development practices so that future software issues won’t be plagued by the delays that have pushed Windows Vista into late 2006.

Here’s the key paragraph from the article: “While Mr Ballmer did not give details of the changes [to the way they develop software], other executives have talked of taking a more ‘modular’ approach to Microsoft’s biggest products, breaking them down into smaller elements that can be worked on independently before being ‘bolted together’.”

What’s being described is a software development Valhalla which, according to people who really spend a lot of time thinking about these issues, is as far away today as it has ever been. It’s just not going to happen.

And then there’s this bizarre line (print edition only): “The rise of Google, which releases frequent updates of its software, has added to the urgency for Microsoft to do the same…”

There’s a big, big difference between changing software on a sea of servers you own (true at Google and in some parts of Microsoft, like MSN) and changing the software on several hundred million desktops that you don’t own.

I need my fix of the FT every day for my own well-being as well as for my job, but someone there really needs to encourage their reporters to display some backbone in the face of CEO vaporware.

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