Saturday, October 30, 2010

Is Microsoft dying?

Some people are calling this CNN Money article a simple measure of FUD.  Is it?

There's a lot of truth in there - consumers aren't "buying" Windows 7 - if they get new computers, they come with Windows 7, sure, but are they really forking out their cold, hard cash to upgrade machines that are running XP?  Not that I've seen.

Businesses are definitely buying Windows 7 - this is because so many business machines are still running Windows XP, an OS initially released in 2001 (that's 9 years ago, folks), due to the fact that F^HVista was a festering bucket of poop that no self-respecting IT provider would have deployed to the majority of their clients.  We're upgrading all of our clients from Windows XP to Windows 7 - we had a few "taster" Vista installs out there, but we never went past that and we even dropped a number back to XP to gain stability, functionality and speed.

Microsoft recently released their Kin mobility platform and then due to appalling sales, pulled it from the market only 48 days later.  Hopefully their Windows Phone 7 product gets better reception than that, however we need to recall that back in June 2008, I'd already called Microsoft out for treating their then ageing Windows Mobile platform like a redheaded stepchild and it has taken over 2 years from then for Microsoft to come up with Windows Phone 7.  Is it too little, too late?  I honestly hope not.  (Interestingly, there's little mention of the whole Kin failure on the Microsoft website, hence my link above to Wikipedia.)

Windows 7 on a multitouch tablet device - I dunno.  Windows 7 still needs grunt to drive it well.  It will work on an Atom, sure, but with Windows 7 and the weight of common applications such as Microsoft Office (Outlook and OneNote in particular) and Adobe Reader that people will run on a Windows 7 tablet, I honestly wonder what the experience will be like compared to an iPad.  With an iPad you absolutely do not expect it to run like a desktop nor laptop - it has a clearly different operating system (very similar to that of an iPhone) with applications designed to run in that lightweight environment.  A Windows 7 tablet, on the other hand, will run regular applications on a low-grade hardware platform and therefore look and feel like a sluggish desktop or laptop.  This is where I think that it will come unstuck.

We're looking at our mobility options here - the iPad has some clear wins, but so does Windows 7 on a tablet.  The clear lose for the Win7 tablet PC is that I can see us being bitterly disappointed with the performance for the reason mentioned above.  Sure, it will run that applications we need it to, but they will be slow and drain the battery life.  We need to look for alternate applications on the iPad and accept some differences, but then maybe this is a more acceptable option.  We're still undecided.

So, Windows 7 is selling to businesses who didn'ty buy Windows F^HVista, but isn't selling to existing consumers.  Microsoft Kin was stillborn.  Vista was stillborn.  Zune was stillborn.  Office 2010 is an excellent product, but most clients running Office 2007 already can't see clear benefit in upgrading - ESPECIALLY now that Microsoft has dropped all "Upgrade" SKUs and forced smaller clients to buy the full product again.  Windows Phone 7, years too late, is selling in the market like uranium-laced cookies (no-one's really going near it).  In Brisbane there were literally a handful of people waiting on launch day for the handsets - compare that to the iPhone when it was released.  Microsoft's providing all employees and paid Professional Developer's Conference (PDC10) attendees with a handset - at least that will get the numbers up.  Let's hope it helps get the platform off the ground.

And now they change focus for Silverlight to a Windows Phone development platform and put their weight behind HTML 5 as the cross-platform basis that Silverlight was originally meant to be!

And to top that off, Microsoft's lost their Chief Software Architect (Ray Ozzie) in a move hailed by most people as a massive "so what?" but the crazy thing is that Microsoft has decided not to replace him at all.  This is  once visionary technology company, now being run by a retail store accountant without any vision (but who oozes crazy like it is sweat) who fails to replace their relatively ineffective replacement for Bill Gates' Chief Software Architect role with someone with, I dunno, let's say "vision".  This is the one thing that truly makes me wonder about Microsoft's direction - not their failures (which shows that at least they are trying), but their lack of foresight in employing a visionary in their organization.  Groundbreaking developments and leadership by a technology company *CANNOT* be sustained with only an accountant at the helm of the ship.

The Outspoken Wookie

1 comment:

Hilton Travis said...

For more information on the total sea change for Silverlight, have a read of