Microsoft needs the enterprise - not mobile

Mobile is a distraction for Microsoft, not the future. The bigger problem: virtualization. Adding VMware's $38 billion market cap would raise their stock price almost $5 a share.
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor

Recently, Ed Bott said the mobile business is crucial to Microsoft's future. What? Are Office users giving up PCs for phones and tablets?

Mobile is a distraction for Microsoft, not the future. The bigger problem: their failure to own virtualization. If Microsoft added market leader VMware's $38 billion market cap their share price would be almost 5 dollars higher.

This is a market that Microsoft should own: they own the operating system; they have a huge reseller channel; an enviable position in the enterprise; and some of the best software engineers in the world. So why don't they?

"Do what we do, RUN!" Microsoft won't succeed in the mobile business, especially against Apple. Their every attempt to take down Apple - Zune, Windows 7 phone, tablets, retail stores, even the X box vs iPhone/iPad gaming - has failed.

Sure, the iPad is eating into PC sales, but only for consumers who didn't need a PC. No way does a tablet replace a PC for serious work. Apple saw that, Microsoft didn't. End of story.

Lack of focus Microsoft has spent 20 years becoming an enterprise software company that happens to sell a lot of clients and the most popular client productivity software. They aren't a consumer product company.

OK, the Xbox has achieved some success. But while Microsoft was blowing billions to unseat the PlayStation Apple reinvented the entire gaming ecosystem.

Apple is not trying to compete with Microsoft in the enterprise and Microsoft is foolish to try to compete with Apple in the consumer market.

This is where Hyper-V comes in. Two years ago Microsoft had great plans for overtaking VMware in virtualization.

Ballmer made speeches, aggressive plans were laid out, the reseller channel was primed and ready. But then what? Nothing.

Microsoft discovered that it is tough to take on entrenched competitor with a 10 year lead, even when your product is free. So they've given up.

Or, more accurately, Microsoft's CEO has turned his limited attention elsewhere.

The Storage Bits take Someday, perhaps, Microsoft may have a CEO with a clear vision and the patience and tenacity to achieve it. But not now.

The trends that led to virtualization were obvious: CPUs getting faster; plunging CPU utilization; and costs and management were out of control.

VMware entered the server market in 2001, well after Ballmer became CEO in January of 2000. Now VMware is using its 75% market share into leadership of the emerging platform-as-a-service market.

Then what is to stop VMware from offering a “workalike” OS to run on top of its virtual machines? The fact that former Microsoft executive Paul Maritz runs VMware should make Redmond nervous.

Bottom line: the mobile space is a nice to have for Microsoft, but the enterprise is a must-have. While Ballmer fiddles Microsoft's enterprise stronghold is slipping away.

Even MS insiders aren't hopeful: in the last 6 months they haven't bought a single share of MSFT. Oh yeah, W8 gonna rock!

Comments welcome, of course. 2 years ago MS had me thinking they were serious. I was wrong.

Update: Why aren't commenters addressing the MS failure in virtualization? Lots on MSFT vs APPL, but am I the only one surprised and concerned by VMware? End update.

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