Many of you know that while I use Microsoft’s products I am very critical of the management. Especially when news on Windows Mobile 7 come out that makes the Microsoft mobile OS seem like an iPhone.
Later this month, Microsoft will most likely unveil
Windows Mobile 7Windows Phone 7 at the Mobile World Congress. Rumours abound, and the latest set of rumours paint a rather dramatic turnaround for Microsoft’s mobile platform – no more multitasking, application distribution limited to official channels, and a whole lot more.
What I truly wonder is who the f**k made this decision? I mean really, 3 and a half years later some manager comes out with the decision to make their operating system look, and behave like iPhone? If this turns out to be true, this is not only lame, but grounds for firing! I said it back then, and will say it again. Microsoft should have chucked their mobile OS department quite a while ago.
But hey what do I know about Microsoft, after all somebody who was in Microsoft was just as scathing.
Microsoft has become a clumsy, uncompetitive innovator. Its products are lampooned, often unfairly but sometimes with good reason. Its image has never recovered from the antitrust prosecution of the 1990s. Its marketing has been inept for years; remember the 2008 ad in which Bill Gates was somehow persuaded to literally wiggle his behind at the camera?
While Apple continues to gain market share in many products, Microsoft has lost share in Web browsers, high-end laptops and smartphones. Despite billions in investment, its Xbox line is still at best an equal contender in the game console business. It first ignored and then stumbled in personal music players until that business was locked up by Apple.
Microsoft’s huge profits — $6.7 billion for the past quarter — come almost entirely from Windows and Office programs first developed decades ago. Like G.M. with its trucks and S.U.V.’s, Microsoft can’t count on these venerable products to sustain it forever. Perhaps worst of all, Microsoft is no longer considered the cool or cutting-edge place to work. There has been a steady exit of its best and brightest.
When I wrote my scathing set of articles of Microsoft it is that reliance on the past that concerns me the most. I would add another aspect to what happened since the 90’s. Nobody is scared of Microsoft! People laugh about Microsoft.
Take for example the tablet. Microsoft pioneered, but I am going to guess Apple will dominate it. What happened? Simple, Microsoft never made the Tablet PC unique. While Windows 7 and the tablet is pretty cool, there are still way too many apps that simply do not work with the Tablet PC. These apps are geared towards being used as regular PC applications.
In essence what has happened is that Microsoft has not forced their market to grow.
Apple is pretty clever that way. Apple by cutting off old platforms forces people to upgrade. We always hear that if Microsoft stops backward compatibility then it would be a death blow to Microsoft. I disagree because look at what Apple did, and it only enhanced their bottom line.
I had a long talk with an analyst and what he told me is that Apple takes a few problems and solves them very very well. Whereas other tech companies present technology and say, “hey you can solve problems with this right?”
Back to Dick Brass, what was Microsoft’s answer?
At the highest level, we think about innovation in relation to its ability to have a positive impact in the world. For Microsoft, it is not sufficient to simply have a good idea, or a great idea, or even a cool idea. We measure our work by its broad impact.
I say this sums up the problem of Microsoft in a nutshell. Instead of saying, “hey we help as many people solve as many problems”, they give a speech like Sheldon on “The Big Bang Theory.”
But Microsoft really misses Dick’s point as follows:
Now, you could argue that this should have happened faster. And sometimes it does. But for a company whose products touch vast numbers of people, what matters is innovation at scale, not just innovation at speed. And in response to Dick’s comment about Tablets and Office, I’ll simply point to this product called OneNote that was essentially created for the Tablet and is a key part of Office today.
The real issue is not to develop a custom app that can only be used on a single platform. But to make the other applications like Word, Excel, and Powerpoint behave like OneNote! For example, do you really thing Apple is going to release their Office suite (iWork) for the iPad as Office suite for the iPad plus an application suited for the iPad? No Apple is going to totally re-engineer their application so it works very very well for the iPad. Microsoft if you are reading this, this was Dick’s point! And you only just proved his point.
The iWork productivity applications that people know and love on the Mac — Keynote, Pages, and Numbers — have been completely redesigned for iPad. So you can create incredible presentations, word processing documents, and spreadsheets by touching words and images on the large Multi-Touch screen. Each of these apps has been designed specifically for iPad, with all-new features. So while they’re easy to use, they’re also the most powerful productivity apps ever built for a mobile device.
I will say it again, to make Microsoft work, fire Steve Ballmer and anybody who has been at the company longer than 5 years!