June 24, 2017

Has Microsoft Lost Its Way?

People used to hate them. Those were the days. Microsoft had an unenviable talent for summoning guttural disdain from a user base wholly dependent on it. Straddling the computer software market like it was King Kong. People complained each time the menus were changed but after awhile those complaints died down and people accepted the improvements. Microsoft knew best and you just needed to hang on for the ride.

Of course there were some… mistakes along the way…

Windows_me_logo

but we all learn a lot from our mistakes. Microsoft kept surging forward. Things looked sunny.

 

 

times changin

In 1998 Steve Jobs took control of Apple and changed the company’s ethic, gone were the days of making good software and expecting the customers to come knocking. Apple targeted users’ desires rather than needs and invested heavily in emerging IT markets. The iPod was released in 2001 and was a runaway success. The sales of Job’s iMac range accelerated. Microsoft were slightly perturbed. They would need to match Apple’s offerings with their own.

The Zune music player was released in 2006 to rival iPod’s 5th generation. It failed spectacularly. On the week of the Zune’s release it struggled to sell 9% of the market. The ageing iPod 5 swaggered in and snatched 63% that week. Zune was soundly defeated and Microsoft was humiliated. Not only did it fail to rival iPod but it was also beaten by similar products from companies like Sony and Creative. Shops refused to stock the product and Microsoft was forced to discontinue the line.

In 2009 Microsoft released the Windows 7 operating system. It was met with universal praise from both critics and consumers. Easily the best operating system Microsoft had ever released. Instead of putting space between Apple and themselves the margin lowered dramatically.

Microsoft was the Batman of the software market and here we have Robin beating up crooks and saving people from physical harm whilst giving them PTSD.

Apple’s iPad was released in 2010 and they surged into our homes. Microsoft was being relegated to the business market. How long could they remain a stalwart in people’s homes?

Microsofts worst nightmare.
Microsofts worst nightmare.

Like a child mocked incessantly in the playground, Microsoft too fell in line with

the group think. Targeting desires rather than needs. Aiming for new markets whilst forsaking the old. But Microsoft aren’t Apple. They struggled to sell themselves as a luxury product, alienating old users whilst failing to gather new ones.

Microsoft attempted an interface overhaul with Windows 8, dropping the start menu for a start screen. In the old days the users would have been forced to accept the dramatic changes and possibly grow to like them. Modern users are not so easily dealt with. They slapped down the new desig.

The Windows Phone is struggling, Windows 8 was a commercial and critical failure. Their attempts to push into the tablet market have been muted by the Apple and Google’s Android system. Microsoft have been trampled in their attempts at expanding into new markets. What can they do right?

Is this their saviour?
Is this their saviour?

Windows 10 is undeniably a trembling apologetic rebirth of the Windows 7 operating system. Fearful of public reaction they’ve returned to what they know best. A few fleeting references to Windows 8 are thrown in with the start menu as if to convince themselves that the interface redesign wasn’t a complete waste of time and effort.

They are now so terrified of being unloved that they are distributing the Windows 10 system free to anyone with Windows 8. This begs the question, why should anyone trust an upgrade from a company who can no longer count to 10?

Microsoft has talked eagerly about it’s new internet browser, “Internet Edge”. This new browser is definitely a new product and has nothing in common with Internet Explorer. No really, it’s a completely new innovative product and is not a thinly veiled attempt to avoid the dislike of its poorly rated predecessor. Don’t believe me? Look at the symbol for it!

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Clearly a completely new product that has nothing in common with Explorer.

Windows looks like it is going further down the line towards a closed system of menus, lessening the elements of true computers and making itself into a more interactive version of the consoles. This might make it more liked by inexperienced users but may drive long term, technically minded users to Linux.

Another change Microsoft is promising is complete integration. Isn’t everyone excited with complete integration? One account! One account! One account! It’s like listening to an eight year old tell a UFC fighter he is going to kick his ass.

One product family, one platform, one store.

they repeat creepily as if this is what the consumer wanted. After years of promising us that integration is the future it finally arrives and there is no applause waiting for it. Our homes are filled with Google and Apple. Complete integration is a fantasy in a competitive market. Microsoft’s thinly veiled attempts at using PCs to sell us their floundering mobile products is probably going to fail.

They will still hold onto their unloved business market but it’s now an embarrassing, awkward relationship where Microsoft kneel at their feet licking their wounds hoping Google or Apple don’t drive them out.

I preferred Microsoft when they had the balls to be the evil that was required for the software market. Also stop calling Office an app. Your transparent attempts to pander for a younger audience makes you look pathetic. The younger audience can smell smell the desperation. Steve Jobs never wore a poncho.

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