One of the puzzles of this era is why Google gets it and Microsoft doesn't (cf: Origami, Zune, TabletPC, MobileWindows, Live, Vista).
I've come to the conclusion that this is the reason: when a Google programmer creates a new features, he asks himself, "How do I want it to work?" When a Microsoft programmers creates the new feature, he asks, "How does a user want it to work?"
As an author of over 100 books about computer software, I have come to learn that it is better to write for the specific person (me) than for the amorphous person (everyone).
Hence the popularity of my best-selling "The Illustrated AutoCAD Quick Reference" series of books. (This is the only AutoCAD book I ever refer to.) I created the page design to suit me, so that I could quickly look up and find information about specific commands.
If I were to write the book for everyone else, then I would lose focus, because I don't know what everyone else wants. The result is a less useful book, and so a book that does not sell as well. You could call it "design by committee."
And that's what has happened to Microsoft. Their software no longer functions usefully. Perhaps the best example was when one version of Word counted words slowly. Microsoft countered that only computer journalists were worried about word counts. This showed how out of touch Microsoft is; my three kids need to hand papers to their teachers with specific word counts. Any Microsoft employee who would have written the software to suit themselves would have ensured that word-counts were near instant.
(Speaking of which, the latest update of the Atlantis word processor features a real-time word count feature on the status bar.)
I bounce my theory off industry execs, and they fine tune it for me. One suggested that perhaps Microsoft programmers do write features for themselves, but they are out of step with the rest of the world. He noted that his Treo-like phone (made by HTC) was a beautiful piece of hardware, but was burdened by Microsoft's mobile Windows running on it. Same with a Compaq iPaq he had been given: he now only uses it for Internet access, because all other Microsoft-designed PDA functions are too frustrating to use.
In contrast, the PalmPilot was successful, because Jeff Hawkins designed it to suit himself. Apple products are successful, because Steve Jobs designs them to suit himself.