Assorted Ramblings and Filings.
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Like a wounded animal, there is a certain software company from Redmond Washington that is fighting for its business-identity life. Once the titan of its trade, Microsoft has fallen into a deadly trap – one in which it has been ensnared for years – and there appears to be no quick way out.
One would suspect that behind these pitfalls lay such enemies as Google, Yahoo, Linux, or Apple, but that is far from the reality. The truth is this: Microsoft is the victim of its own execution due to its never-ending quest to be the biggest, most dominant player at whatever territory it enters. Take note that the word “best” is not included in that last sentence. The biggest and most dominant. That’s it. Best has nothing to do with Microsoft.
Once content with being the world’s largest software monopolist, Microsoft has decided that it can’t afford to stick with its bread and butter, license to print money products such as Windows and Office to derive revenue; it needs to enter and dominate many other fields, attempting to crush competition in its wake. Microsoft realizes that their operating system is no longer the does-it-all playground (that is debatable, for sure) for its end users that it once was. For millions of typical computer users – i.e. the most common, non-technical type – the operating system is something that doesn’t really matter (a topic for a whole separate discussion), nor is it thought about. It’s just a launching pad for getting on the Web and doing the tasks that they really need or want to do. Most of these tasks – email, instant messaging, search, maps, advertising, music and video, social networking, etc. – are tethered to the Web, not Windows, and Microsoft is scared to death of this fact.
But Microsoft’s response to the growth, expansion, and proliferation of the Web – and ultimately, its end users that use Windows to arrive there – is totally backwards. Rather than put more energy and passion into Windows, Microsoft instead chooses to dabble in the latest Web fashions. In absolute terror and panic, seeing millions of users (and dollars) flock to other companies that take pride and heart in their Web-centered offerings, Microsoft dresses itself up as an Internet-centric conglomerate, and tries with all its might to fit in with the crowd. “Hey, look at us! We’re Microsoft, we’re an Internet company, too!” they proclaim, “We made billions of dollars selling operating system software, but the Web is our new Windows!”
Despite all of its efforts, Microsoft’s style play is not working. In fact, they seem to have fashionably overdressed (to name a few: X-Box, MSN, Windows Live, Spot – the MS branded watch, adCenter), and are reeling from all of the different initiatives. Meanwhile, Windows Vista, the latest operating system and the followup to their 2001 release of Windows XP, has been delayed so many times that even die-hard ‘Softies are feeling burned. Missing the all important holiday buying season, Vista is expected to be available in early to mid 2007.
Microsoft’s stock has been a laggard for years, and there have been a number of defections recently, most notably, Robert Scoble, who until recently was Microsoft’s Technical Evangelist, Ted Hase, Martin Taylor, and of course, company co-founder Bill Gates, who announced that he will be phasing out his duties, officially handing over the reins to Ray Ozzie in 2008. Is it a warning sign when the person that started one of the most successful companies of all time no longer has his heart in it, and announces his retirement? I don’t know. Perhaps it is just coincidental that he’s bailing, opting to give back some of the billions that he made to those less fortunate rather than stick around for as many years are required to guide Microsoft back to glory.
I was a Microsoft supporter for years. I cut my teeth on MS-DOS and Windows 3.1. But four years ago, I bailed. I grew tired of Microsoft’s products and lack of enthusiasm for making them better. I’m no longer a Microsoft enthusiast, but to all those who are, I’m going to help you out. Take the words below and by whatever means you have to – email, snail mail, fax, or carrier pigeon – deliver them to Microsoft. Here they are:
Forget the fashion. Bring back the passion.