Why Windows 7 Won’t Turn Microsoft Around

Roughly Drafted has an incredible article about why Windows 7 won’t turn Microsoft around. It’s totally accurate: Microsoft is missing the boat over and over and over again.  If I were in charge of Microsoft, here’s what I’d do:

  1. I’d immediately begin a very public plan to phase out Trident and replace it with Webkit over the next two versions of IE.  I’d blog about it endlessly so everyone knows that while Trident will exist (with extended CSS and HTML 5 support, natch) in IE9, it will be a new, fully Webkit based browser by version 10.
  2. Developers, developers, developers? Start bundling Python and Ruby with Windows to encourage cross platform development.
  3. At the same time, it’s time to release a statement granting the freedom for developers to implement .NET on other platforms.  Fighting Mono in any sense just means more people won’t ever want to touch your tainted tech.
  4. On that note, I’d start looking at free.  It’s time to start giving away Visual Studio.
  5. I’d stop the artificial versioning.  Microsoft actively cripples their products.  They handicap their server OS to not recognize RAM until you shell out cash for a more expensive version.  Look at Citrix, who accomplishes this without the same aftertaste: XenServer is free, no limits.  But certain non-essential features are part of an enterprise package.
  6. The cost of software is destined to approach free.  Office software is too expensive, and it’s why people are seriously looking at Google Apps and other office suites.  We’re all beginning to realize we don’t really need Excel, Outlook, and Word as much as we thought.  Once we can convert our PST files, the rest is just getting used to an alternative.

We’re witnessing the collapse of a major entity, I think, and it may take decades, but you can see the cracks now.  Zune doesn’t make money.  X-Box doesn’t make money.  Bing is never going to take any significant traffic from Google.  Windows isn’t generating the revenue it used to.  IE is less important than ever.  Office is finding its way onto fewer and fewer computers.  Linux is coming into its own.  Netbooks will almost certainly, in time, be owned by Chrome or something like it.  Windows Mobile is stale and unpopular on phones today with no suggestion that it will ever be able to compete with iPhone OS, Android, WebOS, or Blackberry OS.

Windows 7 is shaping up nicely; my department at work is enjoying our testing and can’t wait to deploy it.  But that doesn’t mean we’ll make a push to deploy it, we’ll just let it leak in.  And so will many others, most likely.

If you look around carefully, you’ll see the tectonic plates of technology shifting, as slowly as they always have, but as surely as they’ve ever been . Don’t miss it: what will one day be an exciting history is unfolding before us.

14 Replies to “Why Windows 7 Won’t Turn Microsoft Around”

  1. Why would they want to turn around? They are #1 in desktop and server software.

  2. I wouldn’t get Windows 7 until WGA is got rid of. This is why I have not upgraded to Windows XP from Windows 2000

  3. @Elijah:

    1. That’s not always going to be the case. They’re losing their lead in both rapidly. We know Mac sales are WAY up on desktops and laptops, and we have no idea how many Linux servers are truly deployed; the figures Microsoft give are very likely misleading and wrong.

    2. Desktops are yester-year technology. They are powerful enough and the general public doesn’t upgrade their OS. And they are far from #1 in mobile technology, far behind in web, far behind in search, far behind in SaaS, and far behind in the console wars (profit-wise). This suggests they don’t understand anything outside their bread-n-butter zone.

    3. Lots of companies have died because they said “we’re number 1, why change anything?” …And then someone did it better.

    1. Adam,

      I feel this whole article is troll bait so I guess I will continue to fan the flames.

      1) Mac sales are up in the home pc/laptop market but Windows is still the dominate player. However that market is a drop in the bucket to business pc sales and ms is still very strong. So ms does have an issue with the business not moving to vista. XP is on a very large base of business pcs. So business has multiple upgrade paths they can take. But like most businesses they are going to look at their current infastructure ( Active directory / Custom Windows software / Employees are familiar with using windows ) and use that as a reason to migrate to Windows 7.

      2) I am not sure where you are going with this. I fear you may be a blind MS hater and see everything is a win/loose outcome and that is simply not how it works. MS is strong and or a leader in almost everything you mentioned. I would love you to explain how “Desktops are yester-year”.

      3) I agree, but what does this have to do with Windows 7?

      I use both Windows and Linux. I will confess I am not a Mac fan but I do have an iPhone. The thing that gets me is this blind MS FUD about how windows is about to fall off a cliff. I have heard this for the last 10 years and it has not happend. I listened to it when 95 replaced dos, when 98 replaced 95, ( screw ME ), when XP replaced ME and when vista replaced XP. After hearing “This is the year of Linux on the desktop” for forever now I still can’t find one Linux PC for sale at any store around here, all MS and a few Macs. So I don’t see this mass migration away from Windows that is causing MS to say “We need to turn around”.

  4. Copycat 😉 ( http://www.osnews.com/thread?375218 )

    Seriously, I think MS is way too stupid too really use Open-source for essential, news-making stuff. They are afraid and they should be. FOSS will work its way up the stack. Once sound and graphics are fixed in Linux it will be a very viable choice for most users (OK, OK .. freaks like me have been saying this for years .. but now with the contributions from Intel and Google etc. it will finally be real. It mostly already is. )

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  6. I don’t think it’s as dire as you make it sound. Win7 has already gotten a lot of hype. People seem to like it. It will probably sell well. However, it IS basically Vista underneath (NT 6), so some of the same bugs / quirks / issues still apply. Yes, Vista still has many bugs, even after SP2, some of which they know about and refuse to fix. I don’t anticipate it’s huge deal breakers for most people, but all the same, after a while you just get tired of things not even working like XP (which they phased out so heavily even without Vista being fully polished yet, why??).

  7. About a month ago I blogged on how Microsoft has become a zombie corporation, and the earnings shortfall was not a surprise.

    I completely agree with you that there is a paradigm shift. Though I don’t think free is the answer. Solutions are the answer. Look at the iPhone and iPod touch with its apps. Not all are free, they cost money. Granted not in the same dimension, but they cost money.

    What will be Microsoft’s undoing is the fact that the world is going mobile. When you turn on an iPod touch it just works. When you turn on a phone it just works. When you turn on a PC it, well does not work. I know I have a latest tablet from HP that has Vista and it takes at least 2 minutes to get fully up and running (even from sleep mode). That is simply not doable.

    About 4 years ago at a conference I said Microsoft should open source Windows (a base edition without any frills). Not because they should jump into Open Source, but so that their platform continues to exist. Microsoft’s yolk is Windows and if Windows falls flat so does the entire company since they all rely on Windows. And right now Windows is falling flat!

  8. @Elijah, I despise comments like yours. The weakest, most pathetic argument tactic I see when this stuff is discussed online is to default back to “you’re a troll” and then segue into the almost as sorry “blind MS hatred” and “fanboi” arguments. You have no idea what you’re talking about.

    I’m Microsoft certified since 1999. I run the network for a company whose worth is approaching $100 million. We use Microsoft on the desktop and the server. I’m not blind; I probably regularly use more Microsoft products than you. I probably have spent more with Microsoft than you will in your lifetime. We introduced Linux on some of our servers and are very happy with it. Now we’re getting ready to unleash a massive XenServer deployment – instead of Hyper-V.

    That doesn’t mean I can’t speculate on how I see things playing out in the longrun. We’ve got desktops and inventory: there’s no compelling reason to replace our hardware for the foreseeable future. The area everyone is going to spend money is mobile-tech. Our next moves are in the mobile world, and Microsoft’s only edge is their familiar development platform. But Java makes porting easy, and it reduces device cost quite a bit. Blackberry and iPhone both make compelling platforms now. Microsoft missed the boat here.

    I don’t know a single person who owns a Zune. It’s fact that Microsoft is losing money on X-Box. I I use only Apple products at home, and it’s drop-dead easy to find and buy netbooks running Linux. I recently bought one from DELL, our largest Microsoft licensing partner.

    To suggest this is all a troll, and thereby dismiss it, is, pardon my bluntness, just stupid. It’s doing no more than proving my point that being so short-sighted is dangerous. Don’t think today, where Microsoft is still king. Try to have a little vision and see that there is little that is keeping them there are competitors get closer.

    1. Adam,

      Ahh I can see my comments struck a chord with you, great! And I do think you are missing my point. This article is about windows 7 “Turning MS around” I say it does not need turned around because they are #1 in desktop and server software sales. You than take this to zune and xbox? Well if you have the credentials you say you have then you must understand enough about business to understand the market segment size between mp3 players and global desktop software sales. That is like comparing your local mom and pop shop to Wal-Mart. I will even give you the argument, lets say microsoft does need a “turn around” who are they going to follow in desktop and server software? Sun microsystems? They are GONE! ( Java is a good platform, I mention Sun because you talked about Java) So im not sure what direction you think MS should turn around to?

      I will agree a large portion of the future is in Mobile. MS with ActiveSync and Blackberry are the players right now. As you know Exchange has such a large install base apple wasted no time making the iPhone to have native Exchange connectivity. MS is a little late with an iPhone killer but that will be like Ford Vs Chevy they can both exist in the same market.

      Hyper-V is not a big player right now but i am sure it will start to gain ground quickly with Server 2008 R2. I would love to know why you would of picked XEN over VMWare if you have the budget you say you do.

      You can have the last word.. don’t worry maybe 2010 will be the year of linux on the desktop!


  9. Just in case you are not aware you can already import .PST files in the latest version of Ubuntu.

  10. Oh Elijah, you poor thing, you missed the entire point of the article, didn’t you? Let me give it one more shot, just to see if we can crack through that thick outer layer:

    This is about Windows 7 “saving” Microsoft. I say it will not, because the war is no longer about *just* the desktop. Microsoft is #1 on the desktop NOW, but there are viable alternatives getting more realistic for the average Joe every day. And most people simply don’t have a compelling need to upgrade: they will only do so when they buy a new computer, which just may be a Mac (you’re the one carrying on about the “year of desktop Linux” nonsense. I imagine you must’ve been proud adding that snarky last line, although, it’s a response to an argument no one made but you).

    The server space is a joke: there are far more Linux servers than Windows ones, but we can’t measure it accurately, because it can be downloaded once and installed many times. Windows sales might be bigger than Linux, but that doesn’t mean there are more Windows servers; there aren’t. On a related note, there are far more sites served by Apache than IIS.

    While Apple is penetrating the desktop world at a ridiculous pace, Windows Mobile sales are leaking to iPhones, RIM and Android devices, etc. Microsoft’s video game platform is losing money. Zune was DOA. Microsoft’s Office products are no longer seen as necessary by most home users, causing them to heavily discount the entry level edition of their cash cow. All peripheral Microsoft divisions struggle to either be relevant or simply to maintain current revenue.

    #1 or not, if you can’t see the tides changing, you’re a fool. This is about what’s going to happen in 10-20 years if Microsoft doesn’t realize that what used to work for them isn’t producing the same results. But then, you probably think GM was probably on the right track too, huh?

  11. Three years ago I started telling people I knew that had shares in Microsoft to sell and invest elsewhere or lose money. When asked where I’d invest I said, “Red Hat”. They scoffed, just as some are still scoffing and some (this amazes me) are telling people to buy shares in Microsoft…

    So who was right ? Need I remind anyone about Microsoft’s most recent quarterly profit results ? Meanwhile, Red Hat just joined the Fortune 500.

    Sure you may see lots of hype and a shot of adrenalin with Windows 7 but its more of a last gasp than any great hope of salvation.

    Sell your shares now, your investment has already lost a good portion of its value and there’s not going to be any miracle turn around.

    1. Eruaran, I would suggest you listen to your friends. An investment in MSFT has performed consistently better than RHT during the latter’s entire trading history. Real money is to be made in long-term investment and if you are using financial data no older than a month, I feel sorry for you and suggest that you invest through a managed fund and let an expert handle your money.

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