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Microsoft is one of the most successful companies in the world today. It is among the few companies that have reported profits year after year since their foundation . However, the company faced many challenges in designing and developing its flagship products Office 4.0, Office 95, Office 97, and Office 2000 . Microsoft had to address these challenges to guarantee better products according to the customers’ tastes and preferences. The subsequent products had to be on schedule unlike the first products .
The major challenge Microsoft faced when working on office 4.0 was the failure to keep schedules. The developers worked to attain certain features and functions of the software without considering the time factor and schedule . In addition, the different teams had various goals. This complicated the entire company vision. It is theoretically and practically impossible for a company with diverging visions within to achieve its corporate vision .
In the case of office 95, the teams working on the application disagreed frequently slowing the development process . Microsoft came head-on with a potential competitor as well. In 1992, Lotus Corporation introduced the Smart Suite that was a plausible threat to Microsoft office applications . In addition, windows shifted its bit architecture to 32-bit from 16-bit bringing up a possible compatibility challenge to development teams. Microsoft office 97 faced the same predicament in addition to the relatively larger size . The office 97 application was 30 megabytes larger than its predecessor, office 95 was . The application took a lot of hard drive space. For Office 2000, the major challenge Microsoft had to bypass was the internet . Microsoft felt that the internet was a threat to its products.
Microsoft had to address the above challenges to keep the customers satisfied . The company worked on several strategies. For office 4.0, Microsoft upgraded customers’ old application versions free of charge when new versions were launched . Microsoft emphasized keeping the set schedules for application development and launch . To achieve this, Microsoft developers decided to re-architecture previous versions of the applications. In this case, the developers just added new features and functions to the previous programs .
In addition, Microsoft did surveys to understand the customers’ tastes and preferences. This assisted the company to make drastic changes during office 97 development . The design and development of all applications were done in one place. In addition, Microsoft introduced well-defined common goals, applicable to all design and development teams . Microsoft also changed the design and development process to meet specific schedules for the design, development, and launch of the applications.
Microsoft introduced the milestone concept to develop quality applications on schedule . Developers were to write codes and compare them with the master code every day. The developers did simple tests on the codes to confirm each part was okay . It was now possible for the developers to work within the stipulated deadline . The disadvantage of the milestone concept is that it was possible to waste because of the many checks.
The milestone concept was a good idea for Microsoft to manage the design and development of office 2000 . This guaranteed better design and development of the application. However, it seems that all the preparation in design and development was faulty. The office 2000 failed to meet the client expectations and the set schedule . It is therefore certain office 2000 failed. If the milestone strategy was well planned and rolled out, office 2000 would be more successful.
 Harvard Business School, Microsoft Office 2000, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, June 20, 2000.