Dare Obasanjo objects to someone saying that Microsoft is "unable to create technological tidal waves [and] constantly misses the waves produced by others" by citing a few examples where Microsoft started using some new technology, abandoned it, which was then picked up by somebody else.
Sorry, but that just doesn't cut it for me.
Innovation is more than just having a cool idea. Execution is critical as well. Yes, Microsoft had the, um, "cool" idea of Active Desktop that sorta did the same thing as RSS now but it's fairly obvious (ok, maybe in hindsight) that building and promoting it in such a way that allowed advertisers to force their
crap product placements onto millions of peoples' desktops was probably never going to become popular.
The same goes for his two other examples. I've only used Outlook Web Access a little but it didn't strike me as anything terribly special. A browser-based version of Outlook is hardly going to set the world on fire. As for Hailstorm, well, the reason why the idea of a Microsoft-run infrastructure for managing all our online data failed shouldn't be too hard to figure out
The fact that Microsoft simply abandoned Active Desktop/CDF and Hailstorm is telling as well. Part of the creative process is not only identifying when something is not working but also why. It's critical to be able to identify what parts of whatever it is you're working on are the important bits, why it's not working and then formulate another approach to try and get the damn thing up and running.
Rory also talks about the importance of things other than innovation. Check out his list of other important qualities in software: quality, support, stability, relevance and value. Awasu scores pretty well on all of them. And while Earl Mardle was kind enough to describe us as innovative the other day, it's about a whole lot of other things as well.
Execution is everything.
UPDATE: By sheer coincidence, Eric Sink writes today about execution here, amongst other things. Many other things. An insanely long post but as always, well worth the time. Check it out.