Transcript of Knaster Interview, Part 2

Internal rivalry within Microsoft (transcript)
January 20, 1999

Note: Transcripts have been edited for readability and are not word-for-word reflections of the audio sections.

M: Getting back to how Microsoft functions ... you are working in a group that does Macintosh products exclusively, although the products also show up on Windows eventually, either simultaneously or in a serial release that's fairly close to each other -- something like that.

S: Right, all the products we do have counterparts on Windows, but they're not necessarily identical.

M: So you're not doing any any Mac-only products, are you?

S: We do not have any Mac-only products, that's right.

M: So you could put this argument forward: Microsoft does Windows, and Microsoft also does applications that run on Windows, so the Windows group -- I think -- would be very interested in seeing more people use Windows, less people use Macintosh.

S: Absolutely.

M: So, in a way, you have internal competition. You have people in your company who are trying to put you, personally, out of a job.

S: Yea, I think that's right.

M: Do you ever run across your counterpart that wants your head on a spike?

S: One of my best friends, in fact, is working on Windows.

M: And so what do you do? Do you want to slap these guys, or choke them, or what?

S: I think we have a great rivalry. You know, every time I read an article about how Windows sucks, I send it to him, and every time he reads an article about how bad Apple is, he sends it to me.

I think Microsoft is big enough -- and there are a lot of companies that are big enough -- that there is internal competition and conflict. And it's kind of hard to understand. In fact, a lot of people have asked me in the years that I've been at Microsoft -- because I've been at Microsoft now for two and a half years -- how can Microsoft be serious about Mac applications? Isn't Microsoft's mission to make every computer in the world run Windows? And the answer is "no." It's not the mission of everybody in the company; it's not my job. My job is to make Macintosh software that people want, and that conflicts with the job of some other people at Microsoft, so they do their thing and I do mine.

There are some overriding corporate goals, but obviously, not having people not run Mac apps is not a goal of Microsoft -- otherwise we wouldn't be doing it. The reason why Microsoft makes Macintosh software is because there are people who want it. There are customers who want it. It's not a conspiracy, it's a company. Microsoft Office 98 for Macintosh is a product that people buy, and it's a profitable business, so that's why we do it.






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