Microsoft’s own people have already parodied their tendency, when trying to do consumer stuff, to cover the packaging in too many exclamations, while others have parodied its tendency to make what should be simple, hellishly complicated. In the latter is crazyapplerumour.com’s depiction of how the owner of a Zune (which it calls the “Microsoft Windows Media Player 11 Portable Media Player Device Media Player Media Player Media Player”) will spend their first few hours: click on Start, start a program, call an authentication hotline, type in the 128-character code the hotline provides, and “you’re ready to start the process of moving toward the process before the process where you’ll be able to download your first song!” So you can be sure that everyone in Microsoft working on the project is trying to do two things: first, keep absolutely everyone else in Microsoft out of it, so they don’t infect it with corporate thinking and mess it up; and secondly, trying to stop themselves thinking like Microsoft people. In its way, the Zune is like a project 25 years ago, when IBM created a “skunk works” team to create something they later called the “IBM PC”.
The analogy is imperfect in a number of ways, of course, but the method of creation of the IBM PC was fraught with consequences for IBM and one can’t help but wonder about the implications of Zune development for Microsoft.
(The crazyapplerumors parody is here.)