Microsoft's wishful thinking

Microsoft's wishful thinking

Summary: Microsoft's new strategy: be all things to all people - infrastructure, business, entertainment, services. Why would anyone think that would work?

TOPICS: Microsoft, Cloud, Storage

I just read Microsoft's  new strategy document - Transforming Our Company - so you don't have to. It isn't the dumbest strategy ever, but it's in the top 10. 

Wishful drinking  Start with wishful thinking - and you're doomed. Here are my favorite delusional quotes:

". . . consumers crave one experience across all of their technology." Consumers crave one experience? You better hope not because if they do Android is the likely winner.

"As technology moves from people’s desks to everywhere in their lives, it should become simpler, not more complex." Tablets and smartphones are simpler - that's why they're killing PCs.

". . . our strengths are in high-value activities, powering devices and enterprise services." Quick, name one successful Microsoft device that isn't a game console.

Reality check  Microsoft is an infrastructure and business user software company - and they are good at it - but they haven't beaten Linux. That is a real challenge and perhaps one they've decided they can’t win.

Microsoft is not a consumer product company. They've had some consumer products - the most famous of which is the Xbox -  but even that required billions of dollars in investment and numerous missteps before if finally turn a profit - just in time for the Wii and smartphones to shift gaming from consoles.

Microsoft has spent billions engineering products for enterprise use – a wise strategy since that is where the consistent margin is. They're also spending billions on cloud infrastructure and doing some very smart things better than Google. Enterprise and cloud are two sides of the same coin - and a natural market for all this innovation Microsoft keeps talking about. 

The Storage Bits take  Microsoft needs to focus on their enterprise and cloud technology and services instead of chasing after flighty teenagers. The Microsoft brand is many things, but cool isn't one of them. 

Microsoft's competitive strategy for markets that it didn't invent is simple: keep pouring money in and wait for the other guy to screw up. But there is a rich, diverse ecosystem behind Android and iOS that keeps inventing new and exciting options.  

And Google and Amazon aren't standing still on the cloud and services. Carving out a major market position given a late start won't be easy, but if they succeded it would pay for decades.

How about this for a challenge: develop a really good, easy to use consumer cloud storage service that offers massive storage, fast searching, versioning and guaranteed availability for a reasonable price. The masses are gradually realizing that all their digital data is risk and the big company that hits the sweet spot will reap decades of subscription income and consumer insight.

Yeah, it isn't cool - but neither are you, Microsoft. So go for it!

Comments weclome - as if I could stop you!  What are the challenges you think Microsoft is uniquely qualified to tackle?

Topics: Microsoft, Cloud, Storage

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  • Interesting article and I see your points

    but expect the onslaught of pro MS comenters to try and tear it all apart.

    Good luck Sir Robin....
    • But expect the onslaught of pro MS comenters to try and tear it all apart?

      Interesting, that you're usually one of the first to go the opposite direction.

      There is a difference in someone tearing something apart because the premise or conclusions are all wrong, a whole other thing in just continuously commenting negatively about something becaue the alternative doesn't fit into their predermined idea of what they want things to be.
      William Farrel
      • Microsoft is the IBM of the PC world. Tablets are consumers.

        IBM is staying strong in the Mainframe world. They did not go away with the PC so the PC will not go away because of the tablet. Mainframes, PC and tablets each fit into a certain niche and Microsoft is making a mistake by putting a consumer user interface / Metro on the PC. Microsoft is to confused about the PC vs tablet markets.
        • IBM is an excellent example!

          IBM saved itself from going under by selling off its consumer hardware and software divisions, and focusing on servers.

          Microsoft needs to do the same thing. Its consumer software and hardware products have become less relevant than they used to be in the "roaring" 90's.

          Microsoft can save itself by doing what IBM did... sell off their less successful consumer products divisions, and focus on their strengths on the server side. But first Microsoft has to come to the same realization that IBM did to save itself, and that might not be as easy for Microsoft to do.
          Harvey Lubin
          • LOL!

            Microsoft is not even close to going under you fool. They're about a billion light years from needing to save themselves. What a clown. As for IBM, they are completely irrelevant, and that is something Microsoft does not want to be. When is the last time any tech blog talked about IBM, and when is the last time anyone talked about what IBM is doing with any level of excitement?

            I rest my case!
  • Linux has already won

    " Microsoft is an infrastructure and business user software company - and they are good at it - but they haven't beaten Linux. That is a real challenge and perhaps one they've decided they can’t win."

    Market share of new devices of 2013 Q1:

    1. Android Linux 52%
    2. Apple systems 19%
    3. Windows 18%
    4. Others , including other Linux-distributions 11%
    • That's optimistic.

      And by optimistic, I mean very, VERY, EXTREMELY optimistic.

      You forgot to mention that a majority of those readings are from PHONES.

      Last time I checked, phones weren't replacing PCs.

      If tablets couldn't replace laptops, and laptops couldn't replace desktops, then what exactly is a smartphone supposed to replace?
    • Linux fanboy rhetoric noted

      "Linux has already won"

      No, not from a commercial point of view. From the point of view of providing a download link for free software, yes it has won.
      Tim Acheson
      • If you see Linux as a stand alone product independent from the rest

        You are probably right. But if you see Linux as the "heart" of TV sets, routers, super computers, 70% of smartphones, ... then you are wrong.
        I don't know the numbers, but the money people spend in android phones alone must be something really huge.

        Linux it's losing badly on desktop, and desktop is losing importance. Windows legacy is something very hard to fight, but like someone said recently in this forums - data is becoming independent from platforms. If that can make people change from android to iOS or WP in a heart beat, it's also true that there is a big chance that the same phenomenon reaches Windows and Office.

        Enterprise services generate a lot of money, but it's mind boggling the amount of money Apple makes selling 4 consumer devices. It's mind boggling how a company like Samsung that is bigger than many countries makes more profit from smartphones than everything else combined (to be confirmed)....
        • Oh Lord!

          Android is not Linux. How many times does this need to be said? Linux is also dominated by Windows when it comes to enterprise servers. Only on web servers does Linux have a majority share. Also including smart phone numbers with PCs, laptops, and services reeks of stupidity and desperation.
    • The old "new devices" fallacy

      "Market share of new devices"

      New devices represents growth. It does not represent actual usage or popularity. A product that already dominates cannot grow as fast. You cannot defy the laws of a saturation curve. Growth is always fastest at the bottom end of the saturation curve.
      Tim Acheson
    • You obviously don't believe that. If you did

      you wouldn't cut and paste the same post day after day trying to convince us (yourself?) that it's true.

      Sorry Mac, but I guess when you need to leave out XP, Vista and Windows 7 PC's and Windows servers, maybe you could come somewhat close to those numbers.

      But you already knew that, didn't you. :)
      William Farrel

      Those numbers are completely made up. Secondly, Android is not, nor has it ever been Linux you idiot, in spite of the fact that it was built on a Linux kernel. Smart Phones are not PCs and servers. Could you be anymore laughable.
  • It Could Work, If The Company Is Prepared To Take Risks

    Yes, you can have a common core architecture across a whole range of different kinds of computing machines, from small to large--Linux itself proves that. As to whether they can share a common UI ... we'll have to wait and see how Ubuntu does.

    Microsoft's problem is all down to the inflexibility of Windows. It lacks clean modularity. It cannot port easily across different hardware architectures. And the desktop empire within Microsoft is too strong to allow significant resources to be devoted to newer form factors.

    In short, Microsoft's problem is Microsoft.
    • The NT kernel

      Is both portable and modular, has been from day one.
      • Re: The NT kernel Is both portable and modular, has been from day one

        Then why was it so hard to port to ARM?
        • old saying...

          "There is no such thing as portable software... Only software that has been ported".

          Linux is more portable because it has been ported to more platforms than MS has EVER permitted, or even thought of.

          It can even run on systems without an MMU. NT? not a chance.
          • congratulations

            Of course a company such as Microsoft is probably deciding to which platform one ports NT and how long such a port is maintained at criteria that shouldn't be any surprise and are painfully obvious.
          • Re: that shouldn't be any surprise and are painfully obvious

            Go on, tell us. I'm curious to know if you can make even less sense than your claim below that it was Android's ability to run on a single core that forced Microsoft to produce an OS that couldn't.
          • I know what point you're making.

            Android can't run on a single core worth a damn. Windows Phone 8 can, and with very good performance. Android is the most unoptimized POS ever.