Is Microsoft Innovative? A fun debate between Robert Scoble and Dave Winer on the Wall Street Journal online.
What’s even more interesting is this comment left by a guy called Stan on Scobles blog.
Winer is either completely ignorant or is just playing the “MS just copies” role for effect.
Here are some MS innovations off the top of my head (some big, some small, some built on top of previous work, but lots of “innovations” in tech build on previous work):
* Web browser component usable by any app
* Spreadsheet Pivot Tables
* Tabbed spreadheets (since then, copied by other apps such as browsers)
* On-the-fly spell check in word processors
* LINQ (the upcoming tech that will be in C# 3.0 and VB9)
* Video codec innovations that have led to VC-1 being the premier codec for HD-DVD and BR discs.
* Mouse scroll wheels
* Mouse GoForward/GoBack buttons
* Ergonomic mice (I recall the days where you had to press down on a mouse while moving it in order to move the cursor; Microsoft ended that nonsense).
* Ergonomic keyboards
* Office 2007 UI
* Mac Office floating palette UI
* TerraServer (precursor of Virtual Earth, NASA WorldWind, Google Earth)
* Ability to alter compiled code while debugging it
* User Agents
* Answer Wizard technology in Office Help
* TrueType (collaboration with Apple)
* Bob (yeah, it failed in the marketplace, but it was innovative (too much for its own good))
* Dynamic HTML desktops
* Alt-Tab to switch apps
* Lots of small innovations in .NET that when combined equal large cumulative innovation.
* ActiveX (yes, it had security issues, particularly before XP SP2, but is great in an intranet setting)
* Net-DDE, the first tech to allow clipboard functionality over LAN
* Combining the Back and Forward history buttons into one navigation stack control in IE7
* XPS (does everything that PDF does, adds graphical effects that PDF lacks, does it in a smaller file size, and does it using XML so the files can be manipulated via XML parsers)
* Windows Live Contacts (being developed by Danny Thorpe (legendary programmer at Borland, who jumped to Google, then 4 months later went to Microsoft))
* A bunch of little stuff in IM via MSN Messenger
* OneNote (I don’t think there’s any other app really like it (and those that try to be like it aren’t anywhere near as good), particuarly when used on a Tablet PC)
* Mac Word 2004’s notebook layout and microphone support
* Zune’s WiFi (yes, the RIAA only allowed 3play/3day sharing, but its use will grow into other areas)
* First console to have a harddrive (Xbox)
* Browser runs in a sandbox (IE7 on Vista)
* First browser with anti-phishing tech
* Multi-core/CPU calculations in Excel 2007
* Vista’s ability to allow the user to increase RAM simply by plugging in a USB 2.0 flash drive
* First OS to support delayed clipboard rendering
* First OS to have a 3D Sound api for games
* Shadow Copy
* Media Center Extenders (which iTV looks to be a copy of)