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Today, Microsoft commands the high ground of the infomation superhighway by owning the operating systems and basic applications programs that run on the world's 170 million computers. Beyond the unquestioned genius and vision of Bill Gates, what accounts for Microsoft's astounding success? For the first time, drawing on almost two years of on-site observation at Microsoft headquarters, eminent scientists Michael A. Cusumano and Richard W. Selby reveal many of Microsoft's innermost secrets. From this inside report based on forty in-depth interviews by authors who had access to confidential documents and project data, Cusumano and Selby identify seven complementary strategies that characterize exactly how Microsoft competes and operates. Bill Gates' Brain Trust of talented employees and exceptional management, bang for the buck competitive strategies, and clear oranizational goals produce an orientation toward self-critiquing, learning, and improving; a flexible, incremental approach to product development; and a relentless pursuit of future markets. To demonstrate how Microsoft puts these strategies into action, the authors define a further set of principles to reveal a style of leadership, organization, competition and product development which is both consistent with the company's loosely structured programmer culture and remarkably effective for mass-market production of software. Focusing specifically on the unique synch-and-stabilize approach to product development, they show how this vital capability enables Microsoft not only to build an increasing variety of complex features and end-products for fast-paced markets with short life cycles, but also to shape evolving mass markets and foster organizational learning. They examine how the flexibility of this process allows the company to scale up for larger and more complex projects -- a key asset that Microsoft must continue to cultivate in order to maintain its position as industry leader. Cusumano and Selby's masterful analysis successfully uncovers the distinctive way in which Microsoft has combined all of the elements necessary to get to the top of an enormously important industry and stay there. Managers in many different industries, especially those concerned with rapidly evolving complex product features and high technical standards, will discover hundreds of invaluable lessons in this superbly readable book.