Why all the consumer love at Microsoft? It's the weak spot

Why all the consumer love at Microsoft? It's the weak spot

Summary: Microsoft's business-focused products are continuing to carry the day, not that you'd know it from the consumer-centric media events as of late.


Many of Microsoft's enterprise users -- and those of us who love unearthing juicy details about products like System Center, Forefront,  and the like -- have been bemoaning Microsoft's increasingly consumer-centric obsessions.


Sure, Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner might still be taking some half-hearted public pot shots at Oracle, VMWare and IBM. And Microsoft's Dynamics ERP wares, now a billion dollar business in their own right (not even including Dynamics CRM) might get their day in the sun every once in a while.


But the real reason the Softies are putting so many of their eggs in the Xbox, Kinect, the newly announced Home Premium Office 365, and Windows 8 consumer-friendly apps and games is consumer is Microsoft's weak spot. Or... if you are a glass half full kind of gal/guy... consumer is where there's the most room for future growth.

Microsoft's Q4 FY 2012 earnings breakout makes this plain. The Server & Tools units revenues were bigger than Windows/Windows Live, as noted by Business Insider. And the Microsoft Business division (home of Office) was bigger in both revenues and profit than Windows, Business Insider added.) The premium SKUs of Windows Server and SQL Server were selling like hot cakes in Q4 FY 2012, according to Microsoft. Business deployments of Office 2010 and Windows 7 were still strong, despite the fact that launches of new versions of these products are just around the corner.

Meanwhile, gaming console sales were down, Windows consumer PC demand was down, Online Services is still in the red. In short, Microsoft's business product and services sales carried the quarter and the year.

So if you're Microsoft, what do you do? Hire a big-name consumer-marketing and polling pro? Or spend the money on highlighting on the next versions of Exchange Server, SharePoint Server and Lync Server -- all of which also went to public beta this week (though Microsoft officials said next-to-nothing about them so far)?

Microsoft is making a concerted effort to appeal to consumers more than business types in its communication these days. But make no mistake: This isn't because the company is a consumer powerhouse. It's because it isn't one... at least not right now. Whether Microsoft can ever wring the kind of money from consumers as it does from business users remains to be seen, but that's no doubt the hope.

Topics: Consumerization, Enterprise Software, Microsoft, Tech Industry


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Not sure I buy that. MS is targeting Surface Pro just as hard at

    enterprises as they are Surface RT at consumers. They are target enterprises with new WP features as much as consumers. W8 ultrabooks at enterprises more than consumers. Is SQL 2012 consumer love? How about Office 365? Dynamics/CRM? SystemCenter? Exchange? Of course they have more room for marketshare increase among consumers, but theyre putting out plenty of love for everyone.
    Johnny Vegas
    • Why all the consumer love at Microsoft? It's the weak spot

      Mary Jo? Why all the consumer love at Microsoft? It's the weak spot. I want you to read over this title. For a Professional writer, your grammar is HORRIBLE. Should of titled it: Why "are" all the consumer "in" love at Microsoft? It's the weak spot. Actually surprised that your EiC let it get by.
      • Grammar

        .... should of .... ??
      • your grammar is HORRIBLE

        That's rich! You "should have" learned that "should of" is absolutely HORRIBLE grammar! MJF's title's just fine. It's just you. You misunderstood the message.
        View from Here
        • learnt

          Learnt. Now you are learned.
          • What?!

            View from Here
      • Aside from your own grammatical errors...

        ... it seems you totally misunderstood the point of the article as well. She's pointing out that the consumers are falling "out of love" with Microsoft and that Microsoft is having to romance them back with new products they hope consumers will like.
        • Were they ever in "love" with Microsoft?

          Emotional marketing isn't Microsoft's forte.
          Lester Young
      • "should have"

        back of the class for you, sunshine.
        • Why all the consumer love FROM Microsoft?...

          ... may have been a better title, but I understand the point and I think it is a good article.
      • actually

        Mary Jo's headline is accurate. Your response on the other hand contains a gross misinterpretation along with spelling and grammar errors.
      • Actually the Grammar is fine for a headline

        Lets parse this as MJF (and Paul) like to do.

        "Why all the consumer love at Microsoft." This statement means that there appears to be a lot of love in the Microsoft Company being directed at the consumer and asks why this is happening. It also implies, at least to me, that this is a new phenomenon. "It's the weak spot." Now of course we need to understand what the antecedent of the word "it" is. And in this case the antecedent is not referring to “it’s love”, but to "the consumer." So in other words, love is being directed at the consumer, not because of an intrinsic love of the consumer; but because it is a weakness in the Microsoft business model, and that they have decided that only love can strengthen that weakness. This is a very good thing; for now they finally understand that the consumer cannot be simply bought off with money or power or monopoly, but needs love. In return, they of course desire "love returned". But, they still have to understand that to get "love returned" they have to act like a good lover. And for that, considering their history, they might need a bit of liberal arts education instead of relying solely on an engineering world view.

        How is that for a Sinofkyesque post-lol
        • That's Awesome

          A brilliant break-down of why the author's title made sense! Thank you!

          On the other hand, the title proposed by the commentor above:
          "Why are all the consumer in love at Microsoft? It's the weak spot."
          makes ABSOLUTELY ZERO sense. Funny!
        • Stylistically

          Stylistically, the only thing that I'd change is "the" to "their" in the second sentence of the title. I think "Why all the consumer love at Microsoft? It's their weak spot." would have been a smoother way to say what she wanted to say.
          • RE: Stylistically

            When refering to Microsoft or any company the proper wording would be "Why all the consumer love at Microsoft? That is its weak spot." A company is a singular entity without any gender identification so the word "it" is the proper term.
        • As Paul (I assume you meant Thurrott) would likely say...

          "It's a bit more nuanced than that."

          I love that saying, now.
      • To troll or not to troll

        " I want you to read over this title. For a Professional writer, your grammar is HORRIBLE." I do not normally comment about things that are irrelevant to the main article. But.. opinions like the aforementioned, always provoke a storng urge to troll, so, just for once I will! Do you think correct grammar is such a big deal? Maybe you are afraid of the possibility children reading an incorrect article? Then you should be furious about the state of education, not the state of the journalist.
        If someone is disabled or uneducated, you do not make fun of him/her. If someone makes a silly mistake, it is not the end of the world! Writing or speaking correctly is no big skill and it is something normally learnt at the elementary school. So, I will hide behind my screen too, and make fun of you. Are you so silly that you brag about your grammar skills?
      • What?

        That didn't make any sense whatsoever.
        milo ducillo
      • Literary license

        She took literary license and according to one of my old college English teaher's that's permissible.
  • What "consumer love"?

    That's crap. Most people take what's shoveled at them even if it's mediocre. They don't know anything else.

    But I realize M$ has to copy the Apple model when it comes to consumer ware since they rarely come up with ideas of their own.

    App store
    Microsoft stores
    Branded Tablets

    All done by Apple, years before M$ had a clue.