Lots of responses on the Quora web site but I like this one by Eric Berman
“As part of the Internet Explorer 5.0 team, I agree with both the premise of the question and with most of the answers. However, I think I’ll add two other cultural observations about how Microsoft itself has changed.
“First, Microsoft has always done its best work when chasing taillights. Chasing Netscape gave us a clear goal, and I’m very proud of what we did with Internet Explorer 5.0, but like the proverbial dog chasing the car, Microsoft doesn’t know what to do when it catches it. Look at office: once WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3 had been defeated, innovation in office essentially ended. The only meaningful difference between Word/Excel/PowerPoint today and 15 years ago is pixel pushing of the user interface on the screen. It’s only with the rise of Google Docs that the Office team got off its ass with respect to the cloud and hosted office.
“Second, I think Microsoft stopped being hungry. I was there from 1987-1999, and it was always filled with people who were hungry to change the world (albeit letting others define the direction for Microsoft to follow, as above). They weren’t there to make money (although they certainly did so in that time frame). Mass exodus started in the late 1990s – right when Microsoft stock was soaring – because Microsoft wasn’t as exciting as other startups as a place to work; it was about the passion. Fast forward to today, and if you wander the halls at Microsoft, you find a ton of people who are at Microsoft for entirely different reasons. It’s a safe place. It’s good on the resume. They can learn lots of stuff, they can move between product groups, they have great benefits, etc. But the real passion-driven stars largely left in the late 1990s and have been replaced by far more conservative 9-5 40-hour-a-week people.”