The Microsoft Malaise
May 4, 2006 Leave a comment
In his usual style Dvorak mixes rational thought with wild speculation to get readers attention. But let's look into the topic, as it's an interesting one. Microsoft is clearly finding it difficult to compete. As mentioned, that will not stop them from making piles of cash for the foreseeable future, but in this industry it's possible for the giants to fall remarkably fast. So what is Microsoft doing right now. It looks pretty clear that Vista is going to be a large disappointment. It will gain some traction on new PC's, but I don't see any kind of immediate must have upgrade potential in the enterprise. The product is so late and the feature list so cut, that if Microsoft didn't have the market share they do, this would have been absolutely disastrous. Second, at a time when OOo is finally coming into its own, Office decides to completely redo the UI from the ground up and release seven versions. This is a bold move to take with one of their two cash cows and with ODF an ISO standard now, this will be fascinating to watch play out. So, with the writing on the wall, Microsoft has started to diversify. The problem is, they are going in too many directions at once, and not doing any of them outstanding. The Xbox360 is nice, but they failed to gauge demand and way under produced, which in the console industry is a killer (just ask Nintendo). MSN has failed to gain any ground in the search space as has most of of the online attempts Microsoft has made. I think all these from Vista to MSN share a common thread though. Microsoft has lost touch with their users. They're concentrating on everything except what their users want. That's a dangerous thing to do.
This brings us to one of the points I partially disagree with in the article. John says Microsoft is preoccupied with Google, who is not even a competitor. That's shortsighted. Google is a competitor. They are slowly proving that the web can be the OS, at least for a large portion of users. Nothing could be more detrimental to the Microsoft bottom line. The partial part comes in because I do think their complete preoccupation has become a problem. It seems every app Google comes out with, Microsoft throws a me-too copy out sometime later. They're losing focus. The irony here is that one of the only innovations to come out of Microsoft in some time, XMLHttpRequest, is the base of AJAX which may plant the seed that finally displaces them. What an odd type of justice that would be.
Microsoft, MSFT, Vista, Google, ODF