Microsofts Wi-Fi Efforts Were a Stitch Out of Place

By Carol Ellison  |  Posted 2004-05-12 Print this article Print

Opinion: Microsoft's forgettable foray into 802.11 hardware sales demonstrates the power of management guru Tom Peters' principle: stick to the knitting.

Microsofts exit from 802.11 hardware sales testifies to a management truism coined more than 20 years ago by management guru Tom Peters in his classic corporate opus, "In Search of Excellence": stick to the knitting. From the moment the company announced it was getting into the Wi-Fi hardware market, it looked like the company had dropped a stitch. It was arguable whether the software giant ever had any real reason to be there at all. Its not that the Microsoft Wireless Notebook Kit, the companys 802.11g bundle or any of the earlier offerings in Microsofts year-and-a-half tenure in the wireless hardware business were bad. They werent. But what business did the software giant have going head-to-head with the likes of Linksys, Netgear, D-Link and the other hardware companies that were playing hardball in the SOHO wireless market before Microsoft ever arrived?
When asked why the company is now getting out of that game, a Microsoft spokesperson said, "It doesnt make sense to be in the category anymore."
Fact is, it never did. Microsoft is no stranger to hardware. The company has certainly had successful forays into the business. But its successes were mostly with products that had hooks back to its bread-and-butter business—Windows. Next page: The mouse effect

Carol Ellison is editor of's Mobile & Wireless Topic Center. She has authored whitepapers on wireless computing (two on network security–,Securing Wi-Fi Wireless Networks with Today's Technologies, Wi-Fi Protected Access: Strong, Standards-based Interoperable Security for Today's Wi-Fi Networks, and Wi-Fi Public Access: Enabling the future with public wireless networks.

Ms. Ellison served in senior and executive editorial positions for Ziff Davis Media and CMP Media. As an executive editor at Ziff Davis Media, she launched the networking track of The IT Insider Series, a newsletter/conference/Web site offering targeted to chief information officers and corporate directors of information technology. As senior editor at CMP Media's VARBusiness, she launched the Web site, VARBusiness University, an online professional resource center for value-added resellers of information technology.

Ms. Ellison has chaired numerous industry panels and has been quoted as a networking and educational technology expert in The New York Times, Newsday, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio's All Things Considered, CNN Headline News, WNBC and CNN/FN, as well as local and regional Comcast and Cablevision reports. Her articles have appeared in most major hi-tech publications and numerous newspapers and magazines, including The Washington Post and The Christian Science Monitor.

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