This week at Microsoft: Throwing everybody under the bus

Microsoft has shown it is willing to upset anyone in its quest to remain at the top of the OS world. That could backfire.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor on


Image credit: Ed Bott/ZDNet

The impression Microsoft is giving this week is almost one of desperation, and of a company willing to do anything to maintain its position at the top of the food chain. First came the surprise showing of the new Microsoft Surface hardware, which looks really nice. Then came a preview of the next big version of Windows Phone that looks compelling. These two previews show that Microsoft is willing to push anybody out of its way.

The Surface tablet announcement caught not only industry watchers by surprise, but also Microsoft's biggest partners. These companies, HP, Dell, Acer among them, had no real warning that Microsoft was about to compete with them. They are now in direct competition with the company that supplies the OS they use on all of their PCs. The entire PC industry changed with the Surface announcement.

With the Windows Phone 8 preview, MIcrosoft left its partners alone and went after its loyal phone customer base. Buried in the talk of new features, better hardware, and a new start screen, the bombshell was dropped that no existing hardware bought previously or even between now and Windows Phone 8 launch later this year will run Windows Phone 8.

Not a single Windows Phone sold to date will be upgradable to the version of the OS that Microsoft is trying to convince us is revolutionary. They are throwing every single customer under the bus. In a way they threw Nokia under the bus, too, since their phone sales just tanked for the rest of the year.

The excuse Microsoft handed out for the lack of upgrades to Windows Phone 8 is that the wimpy hardware used to date can't handle it. That's bittersweet, as the new hardware requirements only bring Windows Phone up to the level of the competition.

The need to totally revamp the hardware requirement for Windows Phone would have to be the worst case of long-term version planning by a major tech company but I don't believe that for a second. Microsoft is built on the ability to execute long-term plans. No, this would almost certainly have been the plan all along. To throw the loyal customer under the bus and make them buy new hardware.

You existing Windows Phone customers don't fret, all is not lost. You won't be able to upgrade to the next cool version, but Microsoft feels your pain. They are going to release an interim version just for you. It isn't Windows Phone 8, but it has a new start screen to make your friends think you have the latest. What a pal Microsoft is.

So it's been a big week at Microsoft. It's managed to upset all of its partners and a lot of its customers. All a part of the plan.


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