Apr 11, 2022Liked by Steven Sinofsky

Great to see Works getting some love. I started on PC Works 3.0, and then worked with Heikki and ArthurDH putting OLE into WinWorks. Those were fun times trying to get all of those to interoperate.

Steven, really enjoy hearing your voice reading the post. The intonations add so much more to the story.

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A better comparison than Photoshop and Elements at the time would have been AutoCAD (SRP $1800 at that time) and AutoCAD LT ($795 SRP).

The founder, John Walker, had stated a need for "AutoCAD Lite" in 1984, but the same "Are you out of your mind?" dynamics you described made that a non-starter. But when Carol Bartz joined, she brought people from Sun with more pricing architecture experience, and they noted that: 1) 68% of users used applications built on top of AutoCAD or mildly modified AutoCADs (using AutoLISP and ADE - a C-based set of APIs; 2) There was an untapped group of users who were buying lower cost competitors' products using AutoCAD compatibility (ala Open Office) as a draw, and their total sales was estimated to be the same as the TAM of AutoCAD, which was sold by resellers at the time.

So Carol said, "it's time to move". We took out all programmability and released AutoCAD LT in 1993, based on our first good Windows AutoCAD. The company's revenue doubled in 3 years. We also undertook initiatives to double down on more expensive vertical AutoCADs for Architecture and Mechanical design (ACAD for Architects and ACAD Mechanical) with the intent of providing even more targeted functionality at higher prices than base AutoCAD.

It worked. Entirely new channels for sales motion opened on all fronts. _Company_ revenue was up 5x in as many years, going from $180M at the start of this process to $895M.

MSFT go to market channels and customers were more similar to ADSK than ADBE (i.e. B2B), thanks to Carol's leadership on all sales and marketing.

So it might have been a more interesting marker for discussion at that time. It really worked.

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Apr 10, 2022·edited Apr 10, 2022Liked by Steven Sinofsky

Thanks, this is very revealing of the situation, as much as I like to think that there are many times less is more. You wisely wondered, "which less?"

It should be no surprise at this point that I was a big fan of Microsoft Works starting with 1.0 on MS-DOS. I was not so thrilled about the Windows flavors. And I struggle today over feature-creep in Markdown frameworks. In that respect, the MS-DOS Microsoft text editor, ME, was my favorite for writing code.

I ultimately became a fan of Office because it was what my employer adopted and it is what my customers used or respected. And you did make a living for folks like Ed Bott who wrote those big fat books of product documentation (until the Internet ate that business). Having lived in the trials of ODF and Apache OpenOffice, I appreciate even more the effort toward OOXML and how Office is generally improved more than broken. LibreOffice continues to promote newer releases with claims of improved compatibility too.

I personally witnessed an IBM customer-service tech unlocking a feature around 1959, but it was on an IBM 402, a tabulating machine for printing reports from punched cards, not a computer. Now I have no recollection what the feature/limitation was. I would not be surprised that a firmware update could accomplish some similar results in later computer systems.

It continues to amuse me how much some people insist on back-seat driving software producers, whether tech-magazine pundits or irate users who seem to thrive on being disappointed. I just ran across it on Steam in gamer comments about what a producer chose to update in reviving a legacy game versus what they wanted fixed. I can ignore that. More troubling is having a congressional representative that backseat drives the entire government. I have more satisfying ways of wasting my time.

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