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Microsoft Needs a Catch-Up Artist

timothy posted about a year ago | from the chairs-are-expensive dept.

Businesses 406

The New York Times says that what Microsoft needs now isn't just a CEO, but a catch-up artist, to regain the footing that it had a few years ago as the biggest name in software. There's a lot of catching up, too: An anonymous reader reminds us that a year ago, Vanity Fair gave a scathing review of Steve Ballmer's performance:"Once upon a time, Microsoft dominated the tech industry; indeed, it was the wealthiest corporation in the world. But since 2000, as Apple, Google, and Facebook whizzed by, it has fallen flat in every arena it entered: e-books, music, search, social networking, etc., etc. Talking to former and current Microsoft executives, Kurt Eichenwald finds the fingers pointing at C.E.O. Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates's successor, as the man who led them astray."

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Why catch-up? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666421)


No, microsoft doesn't need to catch up because it isn't behind. They have everything, what it doesn't have is something that is different, innovativ and without spyware.

Catch-up because (3, Insightful)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year ago | (#44666611)


No, microsoft doesn't need to catch up because it isn't behind. They have everything, what it doesn't have is something that is different, innovativ and without spyware.

Microsoft in the suddenly relevant, consumer, mobile, socially linked, always connected, future now...behind in market share, mindshare, technology both hardware and software with a poisonous brand, a stench of repeated failure, leaving its OEM Slaves and hostages as expendable casualties...even though they suddenly have to compete.

Re:Catch-up because (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666683)

They should hire Andy Rubin. That would shut a lot of people up, and lead to some awesome products.

Re:Catch-up because (1)

poetmatt (793785) | about a year ago | (#44666765)

what makes you think Andy Rubin wants to work for MS?


Re:Catch-up because (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666803)

There is a bit of a difference between working for and running. Maybe your right and he would prefer to work for Eric than take hold of a multi billion dollar company himself, my gut feeling is your wrong.

Re:Catch-up because (5, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year ago | (#44666931)

Oh bullshit, put somebody with a brain in the big chair and they could slaughter, all the tools are there, its just Ballmer has his one track mind locked so hard on Cupertino it was a miracle he could walk in a straight line!

Hell put ME in the big chair and i could double the stock price just using good old fashioned common sense. First people hate metro or are afraid to buy a new unit because what if they hate Metro too? I'd tell them "Not a problem, anybody that buys ANY copy of Win 8, OEM, upgrade, whatever, if you try it and don't like it? We'll trade your key for the equivalent Windows 7 key so you have nothing to lose"...BAM! You just fixed the windows 8 problem right there. Fuck win 8.1, roll it into a service pack and call it a day, this ain't 93 and .1s look douchey, instead OS releases will be once every 3 for consumer (and they have the option of going back up to 2 releases, just swap the key) and 6 for business who will have the option of going back one release. Metro will NOT be default, it will be OPTIONAL and we'll buy out ModernMix and integrate it so if you want to use metro apps on the desktop? then do so, its YOUR PC and YOU get to choose what and how it runs.

Next we need more income coming in and to fix the mobile problem, okay not a big deal. For the income we start rolling out services Joe and Jane can actually use and give a fuck about, leave the appstore crapstore junk for mobile. Instead imagine getting a CC sized key, pops into any USB, and lets you have a secure remote session with your home PC from work or vice versa? Not a problem when using MSFT servers for the middle man and we'd make that shit more simple to use than your average ATM. For the home users we peer with groups like Akamai (cut down on latency and the risk you'll hit your cap) and we start cutting deals with networks and movie houses, you'll be able to buy bundles or ala cart Internet entertainment with the goal to be to get everything anybody could possibly want available as a stream and if you want to buy it? Just click the button and its yours, and it'll all integrate with Windows Media Center so ANY desktop or laptop with an HDMI out is now an instant HTPC, no setting up or hassles, just plug and go.

Finally as for mobile too long as the mobile division been crippled by Ballmer and Gates, first trying to jam a teeny tiny desktop onto phones and then trying to jam phones onto desktops, that shit WILL end under me. Instead we spin off WinPhone who will now be called ModernOS, it will have the ability to run BOTH Android AND WinPhone apps, and the ONLY connection with the desktop is a "it must work simply" mantra. which means if you choose WinPhone over Android you WILL see the benefits, everything from being able to remote access and even track your phone from your desktop to streaming from your PC to your ModernPhone to even using it as a remote for your desktop or laptop, thus making the HTPC idea even nicer. Your SO wants to watch that twilight crap while the game is on? Slap on some phones connected to your ModernPhone and screen the game from one of our channels to your phone!

See how fricking easy it would be to make money with MSFT if they didn't have a CEO with his head up his ass? And this is just what I could come up with off the top of my head, if I gave it any real thought I could come up with dozens more...ohh, get ready for some about an innovation bounty? Instead of the employees backstabbing each other with that stack crap instead we offer a bounty on innovation, you come up with a great product YOU get a cut of every sale, be that in software or hardware, give the employees a reason to really bust ass for the company again. i could go on all day as the raw materials ARE there, its the leadership that has been throwing everything away trying to be Cupertino North.

Re:Catch-up because (1)

mcneely.mike (927221) | about a year ago | (#44667023)

As a linux user, I liked Ballme... Ballmer (sorry).

You, sir, have ideas and I don't like it... not at all. Nope. Please do not hand your resume in to MSFT, and I hope you're not in contention for the 'chair' (if there are any left after Ballmer's tantrums). :)

Re:Why catch-up? (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about a year ago | (#44666725)

For ketchup, they should get John Kerry [] . Given that MS is jacked up, and Kerry himself is a total jack-up artist, the resulting double negative will certainly have Redmond conquering the market, STAT.
For OS/2 applications.

Re:Why catch-up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666835)

That would be Microsoft Linux 8)

Lead, don't follow. (1, Insightful)

Ed The Meek (3026569) | about a year ago | (#44666423)

Microsoft needs to learn to lead and stay ahead of the trends. They're continuing to rely on old technology that's past it's time - like Office.

Re:Lead, don't follow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666657)

You're right, excel does not help me with my twitter posting, nor does it help me use my phone at every possible moment.

Microsoft should use self-determination to be the next facebook/Google+/twitter/flickr/instagram/AOL thingy.

The Future is Now (4, Interesting)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year ago | (#44666659)

Microsoft needs to learn to lead and stay ahead of the trends..

That is already well and should put a one in from of it and a Profit??? somewhere. The point is the future is already here consumer portable electronics , tablets smartphones Smart TV and watches, and Internet Giants in Retail; Search and Social...and Microsoft has failed or doesn't have a product in those market places.

Re:The Future is Now (4, Interesting)

real-modo (1460457) | about a year ago | (#44667005)

From a business point of view, Microsoft's hope is Asia. The OECD is fully saturated with Microsoft product, but there's huge growth potential in Asia. (Growth potential, mind. MS will have to work very hard to realise that potential.)

Microsoft needs a CEO who understands China, and a 2IC who knows the rest of East and South Asia. Someone(s) less important can mind the shop in the OECD. Who in Microsoft could take on the big roles?

*crickets chirping...*

Ballmer's biggest failure, one that has gotten very few pixels, is succession planning. It's the core, number one duty of a CEO: to grow his staff to the point where they can run the business. Ballmer sucked at it.

Re:The Future is Now (5, Insightful)

Livius (318358) | about a year ago | (#44667035)

Insecure dictators have a history of making sure there's no-one available to replace them, as part of their strategy to avoid being replaced.

Re:Lead, don't follow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666781)

As you type within in an Office app yourself - for shame.

Re:Lead, don't follow. (4, Insightful)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about a year ago | (#44666849)

Since I graduated from college in 1986, Microsoft has been a place where great minds go to die. They were the hottest employer, and it sickens me to see how little Microsoft has allowed their amazing talent to produce. They had, and continue to have, essentially a monopoly on the desktop OS market. They don't need innovation to remain on top, and could even be damaged by it, so it's no wonder that they wouldn't let their great minds produce much of consequence. If Windows Me didn't convince you that Microsoft is anti-innovation, certainly Windows Vista and Windows 8 should make it clear.

That said, I have no problem with companies being the best company in their field. Microsoft's market is shrinking, and it's not their fault. They remain the dominant PC OS, even with crappy Windows 8. Few would argue with my claim that Sun Microsystems was the best workstation vendor ever, but when cheap x86 CPUs began to have enough power for most users, Sun's market went away.

Most people think it's stupidity for companies to remain the best in their market while their market shrinks, but I don't feel that way. There's always another company ready to take over a new market, and a company without the PC OS baggage is going to do a lot better. That's the way it should be.

Re:Lead, don't follow. (2)

Dahamma (304068) | about a year ago | (#44666885)

Since I graduated from college in 1986, Microsoft has been a place where great minds go to die. They were the hottest employer, and it sickens me to see how little Microsoft has allowed their amazing talent to produce.

That's so true... except in one business: Xbox. It seems that's the only area of the company right now where they are really letting people innovate. Of course, we'll see how that works out for the XBOne - not all innovations turn out to be *good* ideas... but at least they have in fact listened to their customers and reversed their decisions on several unpopular features, as embarrassing as that was for them...

Re:Lead, don't follow. (1)

the_B0fh (208483) | about a year ago | (#44666959)

Has Xbox turned net positive yet? I know it's finally making money, but has it reached ROI point yet?

Re:Lead, don't follow. (1, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44666985)

Has Xbox turned net positive yet? I know it's finally making money, but has it reached ROI point yet?

Not as far as I'm aware.

And the 'innovation' would mostly appear to be locking in users and spying on them.

Re:Lead, don't follow. (4, Insightful)

Goody (23843) | about a year ago | (#44667003)

They're continuing to rely on old technology that's past it's time - like Office.

Please tell us what new technology replaces a spreadsheet program, a word processor, a presentation tool, and a personal/workgroup relational database.

Re:Lead, don't follow. (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44667121)

They're continuing to rely on old technology that's past it's time - like Office.

Please tell us what new technology replaces a spreadsheet program, a word processor, a presentation tool, and a personal/workgroup relational database.

A web browser.

Hugging and Stretching (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666439)

They are no longer embracing and extending. They were never really leaders. They only took other ideas and muscled their way into market dominance.

Re:Hugging and Stretching (4, Insightful)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about a year ago | (#44666565)

In other words, Ballmer was the symptom, not the problem.

Re:Hugging and Stretching (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666921)

yes. exactly. microsoft has always been shit. nothing they ever did was ever the most secure, the most cost effective,
the more usable, the highest performance, the most attractive.

they never excelled at anything, but somehow managed to become the defacto standard for computing, and
distorted generations of young minds.

so now that the market has finally lurched forward and no one wants to buy that useless crap anymore
we are supposed to cry?

they could take all that money and do a thousand interesting things, but they are so inbred and willfully ignorant
they are just going to spend it down until the scrap is at market value.

Licensing, Lack of Options, Screwing business also (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666445)

A few key points MS needs to digest:

1) They completely neutered their Small Business Server selection, and now to get anything remotely comparable you're looking at a cost-per-core set up. I recently ran into this setting up a medical practice. In the past I had used SBS with the premium add-on to get access to SQL Server Standard for certain software packages. Of course, I can still get licenses for it, but if their business model is moving in that direction, I'm moving away from using their product. I'm finding that certain flavors of Ubuntu are much more suited to what my clients need, and at a price you can't beat. (Zentyal for those that are curious).

2) Get rid of the MS/Windows Tax. Force OEMs to hand out CoAs so that their customers can re-install the OS if need be, rather than using restore media. It's complete BS that customers of big PC manufacturers can't re-install the same (albeit blank) OS that came on a PC they just bought, rather we're forced to go through an uninstall bloat/crap-ware from PC's individually. I don't care what agreements are in place already, shoving this crap down our throat won't help business.

3) Stop screwing IT businesses all over. This is more of a general comment, but killing Technet is a good example of things you really shouldn't do.

Re:Licensing, Lack of Options, Screwing business a (4, Informative)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#44666459)

the small business model is to push them to azure, not to have on premise servers. big money expense and big operational maintenance expense

Re:Licensing, Lack of Options, Screwing business a (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666639)

Unfortunately I can't recommend cloud based products to my clients. Having a hard dependency on network connectivity to the internet is a non-starter for most people.

That's where that business model fails. For the most part though, the "Servers" I see in use throughout most businesses could be whittled down to an i5 or an i7 with some fakeraid. Anyone trying to sell anything more than an extremely low range xeon server to someone with 4-5 employees, with the only hard requirements being a database which will never be over taxed along with network storage is doing a disservice to their customers.

Re:Licensing, Lack of Options, Screwing business a (1)

thetoastman (747937) | about a year ago | (#44667065)

Unfortunately I can't recommend cloud based products to my clients. Having a hard dependency on network connectivity to the internet is a non-starter for most people.

I agree with this. While it's nice, and I recommend cloud servers for a lot of use cases, office infrastructure is currently not one of them. My major issue is not that the ISPs are not reliable, cost effective, or secure.

My major issue is one of network connectivity. "Business class" broadband ISP offerings in the US are pretty awful, which is why I put business class in quotes. Either service or speed (and often both) are incompatible with business requirements. Talking to first (and often second) level support is pointless once you explain to them that you're trying to run an office of 4-5 developers utilizing a cloud-based configuration management, issue tracking, and continuous build environment.

Individual connections actually seem much better. If you're going to move to a cloud-based infrastructure for the above use case, it's probably better to have everyone work from home, access protected resources via VPN, and use a distributed configuration management model to minimize connectivity down time.

The push by Microsoft towards SkyDrive and Microsoft Live accounts is also a really bad decision for consumers given the state of broadband in the US. Who's to say that Microsoft won't shut down these services in the future when/if it's no longer profitable.

Re:Licensing, Lack of Options, Screwing business a (4, Interesting)

theskipper (461997) | about a year ago | (#44666537)

Which boils down to...they need a product focused person. Someone like Marissa Mayer. A seriously good read no matter how you feel about her turnaround methodology at Yahoo: []

It's hard to imagine they'll find a single person to undo the last 13 years of stagnation at MSFT but it could happen. I suspect Yahoo will be the turnaround case study in B-school five years from now. Not Microsoft.

Re:Licensing, Lack of Options, Screwing business a (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44667091)

I don't think I'd use Yahoo's "turn around" as a positive model for anyone.
I use it more of a things to avoid doing model.

Re:Licensing, Lack of Options, Screwing business a (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666791)

Now you slave your knowledge lacking clients to something only you can support - I don't that relationship lasting long. You because your just as bad as MS, just on a infinitely smaller scale...and them - they will go out of business because they are clearly bad decision makers allowing you to do it to them.

Re:Licensing, Lack of Options, Screwing business a (2)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about a year ago | (#44666813)

3) Stop screwing IT businesses all over.

Right, that's gonna happen...

another kicking for balmer (-1, Troll)

blackest_k (761565) | about a year ago | (#44666447)

I'm not a fan of Microsoft in anyway, quite the opposite but how many articles on balmers retirement do we need?
blah blah monkeyboy blah blah chair throwing ,blah blah zone, metro windows 8 xbone NSA ... Will that do? oh missed the nigger jewish goatse obahma apk gold girl cosmonaut posts

Ok netcraft confirms in Russia moves on nothing to see here...

next article please

But how did he manage to survive? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666547)

I agree that it's going to be dead boring for a while until the writers get Balmer's retirement out of their systems.

But there is one little point I'd like someone to try to explain --- how come that he was never kicked out? The tea lady would have done a better job for the company. And yet, he wasn't thrown out on his ass for complete and total inability to stop the downward spiral, despite it being obvious within 18 months.

How the hell did he manage to avoid the fate so richly deserved?

Re:But how did he manage to survive? (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about a year ago | (#44666753)

Gates left because the company peaked and was about to start a downward spiral. Not the other way around.

Re:But how did he manage to survive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666905)

It's not about Gates, it's about the company after Gates.

The company was in a downward spiral with Gates gone, sure, but that's why it needed a competent CEO to level off the downturn and make it head back up.

Ballmer did neither. He might as well not have been there for all the effect he had. He provided people with plenty of things to joke about, but zero results. That suggests that he did not understand the basis of Microsoft's success, and so he addressed only things that were irrelevant.

The article missed one main thing (5, Interesting)

the_B0fh (208483) | about a year ago | (#44666449)

Microsoft never produced anything for the user. If there were any benefits, it was a by product. Microsoft tried to please the producers.

Apple did it the other way round. Apple made things for the end users. True, they had very specific ideas of what the end users can and cannot do, but ultimately, the UI, the way to do things, the way things are done, are all planned and implemented with the end user in mind.

6 weeks before the original iphone launched, Jobs said - no plastic screen, use gorilla glass - why? Because your keys in your pocket would scratch the screen. How many other executives would stop production to do that?

Re:The article missed one main thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666483)

Interesting point of view taking into account all the planned obsolescence in apple products.

Re:The article missed one main thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666485)

... yep, and the fact that both of those companies insist on claiming that they know what's best for their users is exactly why the majority of devices sold today run a Google OS.

Re:The article missed one main thing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666559)

No, the reason why the majority of the devices today run Google OS is because Apple was contractually obligated to AT&T/Singular up until 2011.. thats almost 4 years. Android solved that OEM problem.

Re:The article missed one main thing (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666579)

Yeah, no, not even close. Turns out that not being able to change absolutely every little setting to their personal preference is not a deal-breaker for the vast majority of people.

The reason why Android does so well because it comes on cheap phones that the vast majority of the world (the bits not contained in North America/Europe) can afford to buy. If Apple sold a $99-$199 phone with cheap plastic screens, cheap plastic cases, and cheap components, the rest of the world and poorer parts of North America and Europe would actually have a choice on their hands about what to buy.

Android's NA/EU sales primarily come from high-end devices that compete directly with Apple's devices while not being Apple. The reason MS wasn't able to copy that success with the same strategy is that they had an unproven device that, by the numbers, wasn't as good as the high-end offerings that were already in their later iterations, with an OS that was still suffering from first-gen problems.

Re:The article missed one main thing (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#44666489)

Microsoft is a B2B company, not a B2C company. They have a huge team that goes out to businesses and researches what they want and need. This is how many 'useless' function got into Word, because some people do use them.

It's a strategy that works really well when companies know what they want. It works less well when companies aren't sure. That's where Apple excels, they were able to see that people would use a tablet, where business people couldn't give you a cost/profit breakdown on their likelihood of buying a tablet.

Re:The article missed one main thing (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44666715)

Microsoft is a B2B company, not a B2C company. They have a huge team that goes out to businesses and researches what they want and need.

So how did they end up with a tablet interface on desktop PCs? Which businesses 'wanted and needed' that?

Re:The article missed one main thing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666939)

They were hoping to shut down BYOB iPads by giving IT departments a substitute product which is "a PC".

But, IT departments don't like Windows 8 either.

Re:The article missed one main thing (1)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about a year ago | (#44667071)

Microsoft is a B2B company, not a B2C company.

Which is why Win8/Metro was such a dumb idea. Businesses hate it.

Apple kisses babies (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year ago | (#44666689)

Microsoft tried to please the producers.Apple did it the other way round. Apple made things for the end users

Ironically Apple recently found guilty of forming a cartel with publishing companies forcing up the price of books to its customers...and everyone else.

Re:Apple kisses babies (1)

the_B0fh (208483) | about a year ago | (#44666843)

You might actually want to read up on the facts of the case. Or, actually reading the lawsuit, and Apple's response to it.

Apple lost :) (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year ago | (#44666943)

You might actually want to read up on the facts of the case. Or, actually reading the lawsuit, and Apple's response to it.

Lol I did, July 10, 2013, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York decision found that Apple conspired to fix the prices of e-books in the United States. They were so obviously guilty. It was even published in Jobs book. ebook prices went up...Apple was found guilty.

Re:The article missed one main thing (2, Insightful)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about a year ago | (#44666873)

Only iPhone users would be dumb enough to (a) keep their keys and phone in the same pocket and (b) not use a screen protector.

It's like this (-1, Offtopic)

djupedal (584558) | about a year ago | (#44666453)

You can have a mustard artist, an onion artist, a beef patty and bun artist and nothing is going to help. Stick a fork in themthey've been done for some time. Now it's all about d'Nile.

dump the money losers (3, Interesting)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#44666455)

dump bing and the rest of the money losing businesses that have no hope of turning a profit in the next decade
get the research people to concentrate on stuff that improves current products or present some kind of business plan for any project that is in research

wait for the next tech change cycle. these come every 10 years or so. we had the mainframe to PC cycle in the 80's. the rise of servers in the 90's. the internet in the 90's. and the last one was the rise of mobile. MS lost the current cycle but there is another one coming soon. smart watches and other similar tech is out there and people are buying it. what is missing is the one product that will take the most popular wished for features and put them together in a simple and easy to use device

Throw money at the problem. (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year ago | (#44666721)

dump bing and the rest of the money losing businesses that have no hope of turning a profit

I think one of the problems Microsoft had was its focus on profits. The reality is its current products revolve around its increasingly unimportant Monopoly...much as you personally might benefit from focussing on them, and that is not healthy.

They need to get Windows right first (5, Insightful)

umafuckit (2980809) | about a year ago | (#44666477)

Yes, perhaps MS have "fallen flat" in search, social networks, etc. What's really unforgivable, however, are the Vista and Win8 debacles; those are cases where MS screwed up on home turf. The perception that they're having trouble getting their OS right must be tainting their efforts in other spheres. I reckon the XBox is relatively isolated from the Windows aura, as it's almost a brand in its own right (you never hear the term "Microsoft XBox"). Other things, such as search and phones, are harder to dissociate from Windows. Microsoft's real problem right now is that they're not "cool." It's that intangible quality that they need to foster in order to hit the upswing with consumers.

Re:They need to get Windows right first (2)

Teckla (630646) | about a year ago | (#44666899)

I reckon the XBox is relatively isolated from the Windows aura, as it's almost a brand in its own right (you never hear the term "Microsoft XBox").

Don't worry, Microsoft is working hard to give the Xbox a bad reputation, too.

Unreliable hardware; forced advertisements; you can't use IE or Netflix on Xbox without paying the Xbox Gold Live tax; not to mention all their missteps with Xbone (despite their frantic backpedaling).

The reputation of the Xbox is slowly but surely moving in the same direction that Vista and Windows 8 took.

Fluffy story (0)

hoboroadie (1726896) | about a year ago | (#44666497)

Looks like a cut-and-paste from Microsoft's PR department to me.
Somebody probably wants to unload a few shares on the volatility.

Re:Fluffy story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666523)

Okay, maybe the second Friendly Article from Vanity Fair has a leetle substance, backstory for youngsters &c. -hoboroadie

Didn't he just keep up the status quo? (5, Insightful)

bug_hunter (32923) | about a year ago | (#44666499)

There seems to be a lot of looking at Bill Gates with rose coloured glasses.
As far as I've been able to tell, Microsoft is still trying to do the same thing as it's always done since it's inception. Wait for others to define a market, then try to buy or muscle your way into it with a "good enough" product.
Just now with Microsoft's OS monopoly not being an effective control mechanism, and the barrier of entry for other companies not being too high, "good enough" doesn't convince anybody anymore.

From reading the article the main difference between Bill and Steve on recent issues was that Bill resigned to the fact that they were already too late on things like music players and phones and he wouldn't have even tried getting in.
Microsoft couldn't be turned around easily, it's too much of a change to its ethos. Could a better CEO really have got them into other markets propely, or would a better CEO just doubled down on OS/Office/Business Services and saved a bit of money but had no other impact? Maybe Balmer-Microsoft needed to try and flail around in every market as a first step in a (long) transition period where Microsoft comes out the other side as a company with a bit more humility, creativity and modern vision.
Interested to hear opinions.

Re:Didn't he just keep up the status quo? (1)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about a year ago | (#44666819)

There seems to be a lot of looking at Bill Gates with rose coloured glasses.
As far as I've been able to tell, Microsoft is still trying to do the same thing as it's always done since it's inception. Wait for others to define a market, then try to buy or muscle your way into it with a "good enough" product.

Then perhaps they should poach somebody from Samsung?

Re:Didn't he just keep up the status quo? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666969)

Bill Gates was paranoid as fuck. The whole reason they had Windows CE and Windows Mobile was "to prevent someone doing to us what we did to IBM."

If Gates was running the company, they would have started cloning the iPhone the day after Apple announced it. Instead Fat Ballmer dismissed the whole idea and sat around doing nothing for 2 years. He also did the exact same thing with Google and internet advertising, costing MSFT multi-billions.

Re:Didn't he just keep up the status quo? (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#44667033)

bill gates was also the one who insisted on a "common user experience". or putting a desktop GUI onto their mobile devices even though it sucked.

Re:Didn't he just keep up the status quo? (5, Interesting)

deviated_prevert (1146403) | about a year ago | (#44667013)

I agree with your assessment. One huge problem was and is how they approached communication dev environments. The huge security issues with activeX dependent routines and how "explorer" could become a dangerous interface. We had tonnes of poorly written code using microsoft's development enviroments. Heck every other few weeks there are still "critical security updates for .net framwork".

By creating boat loads of dumb software writers that churned out code for XP that depended upon insecure networking interfaces they have done little more than create a huge resentment in the industry. It is still the case today that most large firms have to run large amounts of legacy activeX code on their intranet in "XP" mode that requires routines that would hose them if they were exposed to the internet.

XP was a great system for locking in customers and the huge problem it created was the fact that getting out of the trap of relying upon insecure software it created is too expensive for a large number of companies. Banks and many institutions still run XP terminals for this very reason, their internal software routines are all based upon core code that is not at all suited for a secure OS like Windows 7 that actually has sensible limited user privilege settings.

Microsoft screwed up their big hit operating system XP's UAC so badly that a culture of writing core routines without consideration of UAC became the norm. Then when things screwed up the IT guys and gals had to run out and sell the bosses on add on security controls from someone other than Microsoft. This is why the snake oil sales of security software exploded in the first place.

Vista tried to fix this problem but focused on Palladium [] . Windows 7 got multi-user privilege going properly to a certain extent but still relies upon .net code that can and does leave holes in because those who code for it are largely ignorant of how to secure things. Secure Computing or Palladium does not at all address these problems and the move to so called "trusted computing" has backfired on Microsoft. Most savvy IT managers know this and tell their bosses that moving past XP will not actually gain any real security benefits because of legacy activeX and .net code. The lack of sensible security methods in the first place within the windows networking code base has created a whale floundering on the beach.

Microsoft's core business is ripe for the picking and I would not at all be surprised if we do not see some company or group of companies gang up and beat them up. A joint venture between hardware and software companies could do it. Who knows just maybe IBM will get it's revenge by releasing a killer db, office suite, server combo that can run old XP code sand boxed faster than a windows server. LOL

Just maybe Ballmer's legacy will be the complete ruin of the once stellar bunch of corporate software raiders that Microsoft was. Problem is they have run out of ideas and truly innovative companies to usurp. We are currently at a technology bubble interface. The only advances will be things like HP's low power Moonshot servers. Unless something really shocking like Microsoft merging with Intel and actually starting to produce real physical product they are really in trouble this time around.

There will be huge mergers soon in the tech industry, one that might shock everybody might be IBM an HP. Or the complete purchase of Dell by Microsoft, or as stated a merger between Microsoft and Intel. INTERESTING TIMES AHEAD and there will be blood on the floor of the stock exchange to be certain.

Artist my ass (2)

djupedal (584558) | about a year ago | (#44666501)

These are the questions hanging over Balmer - you can't tell us that catching up has anything to do with them:
  • How can you be that far off what consumers want?
  • Was it that you're not listening to your team?
  • Was it because the team was afraid to give you advice?
  • Was it because the team saw a different reality?
  • Or was it that the team lacked the skill set to anticipate the failure (and who takes the blame for that?)?

Re:Artist my ass (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#44667055)

These are the questions hanging over Balmer - you can't tell us that catching up has anything to do with them:

  • How can you be that far off what consumers want?

By not caring what customers want and relying on a market dominance position, enabling them to dictate what people want, whether they want or not.

Simple as that.

So what they're saying is (5, Interesting)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year ago | (#44666507)

MS should hire Elon Musk as CEO?

urp (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666521)

Sorry.... I have problems with any tech writer that either doesn't know what linux is or ignores it on purpose.

Microsoft has always focused on development tools (4, Insightful)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about a year ago | (#44666525)

But somewhere left the developers behind. They started to treat them as people who supported Microsoft, instead of the other way around.

Getting out of this mess (5, Insightful)

BenJeremy (181303) | about a year ago | (#44666601)

Microsoft spent millions every year researching things like user interfaces.

They threw it all away in a short-sighted quest to shove their way into the revenue stream of walled markets.

I think a return to basics - provide value to their best customers (Corporate IT) - through improving productivity and offering stable development environments to encourage those customers to invest in a Microsoft ecosystem.

At this very moment, the only thing tying corporations to the "Microsoft Ecosystem" are Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and pretty much everything pre-2012. Admins don't need "Modern UI" interfaces on their server boxes. Developers don't need monochrome toolbar buttons and screaming menus. Desktop users don't need to gestures to do their daily work. All of those mis-steps has IT departments across the country realizing that while they do not WANT to put the effort into leaving that ecosystem, Microsoft has left them with no choice - So now the decision is to move to something slightly less familiar (Linux and OSX), or move to something WILDLY unfamiliar (Windows 8, Server 2012, etc...) - which makes more sense? so It departments are no longer beholden to Microsoft, thanks to Microsoft's own stupid decisions.

Get back to what worked. Mobile and Desktop are separate markets, which is why Apple didn't paste the iOS UI onto OSX, and why Android isn't a desktop operating system. Stop trying so hard for convergence in the UI when we aren't even close, technologically, to making that happen. Stop forcing your customers to face painful training budgets and re-writing legacy apps just to fit into your executive's superfluous decisions to bully them into the Metro UI with the idea that it would somehow magically sell millions of mobile devices with "Windows 8" (more like "Tiles 1"). That effort failed spectacularly, by any measure, so step back, lick your wounds, and give the customers what they want, instead of shoving what YOU want down their throats.

Merge with Yahoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666671)

and let them do a reverse takeover of MS (this happens from time to time in American business). So the next MS CEO would be a woman most recently photographed stylishly dressed upside down on a couch.

We know the price, it's $45 billion.

Re:Merge with Yahoo (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#44667043)

Well, she can only be more attractive than Mr. Armpit, so I approve!

No "catch-up artist" will be allowed in there (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#44666707)

Funny enough, a few month ago I sent a letter to Ballmer, where I sort of predicted that this would happen to him if the company continues on this path and I offered to help (I know, I know, very funny, ha ha, what can some random guy do, yes?)

Anyway, I believe I have a good idea as to how to direct MS Windows platform to make it actually usable and what is more interesting, I have an idea about a new desktop that would be preferable for businesses.

Seriously, I have an idea as to what to do to a desktop to make it specifically business oriented that would actually give businesses a better way of working. Maybe one day I'll just do this myself, of-course MS has so much experience in the subject matter, they could churn it out quickly, but it would require certain change in the normal way they build software.

In any case, a standard response was given, something to the tune of: we don't take advices from nobody, go to hell.

So now I see almost exactly what I predicted in that letter to Ballmer happening in real life, but hey, that's what normally happens with me, I see stuff that is too obvious before others catch up.

Overlooked successes of MS in last 13 years (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666713)

These articles claiming MS has failed at everything they have tried since 2000 are a bit over the top. Some very successful products include :

xbox 360
Office '07, '10
Windows 7

Re:Overlooked successes of MS in last 13 years (3, Interesting)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44666743)

How are any of them 'successes'?

Xbox has still lost money over its lifetime.
Office? People would happily be using whatever version of Office Microsoft churned out, there was no demand to switch to a new version.
Windows 7? If Microsoft were still pumping out upgraded versions of Windows XP, they'd be selling more than they are of Windows 8.

Microsoft should have called Windows and Office done years ago, and moved most of the developers off to new products. Then they might still be relevant.

Re:Overlooked successes of MS in last 13 years (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | about a year ago | (#44667001)

Microsoft should have called Windows and Office done years ago

Which would have made life much easier for the WINE and developers.

What Microsoft really needs... (1, Interesting)

jkrise (535370) | about a year ago | (#44666741)

is a person who can tell everyone else to get lost; and release all MS software on a truly FOSS license model. Not the shared source license model, nor the Microsoft Permissive License model.

If RedHat can make a billion dollars on Free Sotware that is used less than Windows; Microsoft can exponentially increase the use of their software with a FOSS compliant license that puts the onus of innovation on the developers and producers; rather than on itself. The community is thousands of times more powerful than a corporation.

Intel miserably failed by not licensing its technology to others; unlike ARM which has been a roaring success. So much so, IBM is now licensing the Power architecture to others. And Intel is taking down Microsoft and Apple along with them down the death spiral.

Lesser control leads to greater adoption, greater innovation and greater profits in the medium and long term. Microsoft's future CEO has to decide which one is more important - ideology or profits - he can't choose both.

Re:What Microsoft really needs... (1)

ruir (2709173) | about a year ago | (#44666853)

Are they taking Apple? Apple has already mutated into 3 different platforms, and are already migrating to a 4th (hello iPhone and iPads). Intel is a very convenient (cheap) partner at the moment, but I would be much surprised if they have already ARM versions in-house. If they managed to keep the Intel project going for a decade till they launched it

Re:What Microsoft really needs... (1)

ruir (2709173) | about a year ago | (#44666859)

wouldn't. English not being my mother tongue, I am making this mistake too many times.

Re:What Microsoft really needs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666915)

No. It's not their business model. I used to say that Apple should sell their OS and stop being dicks about people installing it on other hardware. Same deal. "Apple is a hardware company" they'd tell me. In this case, "Microsoft is a software company". Sorry; but Red Hat and any other FOSS vendor is not a software company. They're creating the software as a loss leader, and selling something else--hardware, services, hosting, support, whatever. Saying that any FOSS organization is a software company is like saying that a motel is a mint-candy, soap, and coffee company.

Microsoft makes an operating system. Lots of other people make hardware to go with it, and it's understood that you have to write your drivers to work with this ONE operating system. Same deal with people that write software for it. Yep, it's a monopoly; but a lot of people prefer that ecosystem and in order for it to work, Microsoft has to be a dick, just like Apple has to be a dick for their ecosystem to work.

We really don't see any large dick-free ecosystems playing these days. Everybody fucks you in their own special way. Build a system that makes money of services and support... and you can be guaranteed it'll be designed to require service and support. blah, blah, blah... same old crap on Slashdot.

They ain't openen' all their shit. It's fundamentally not their business model. It'd be like Apple throwing open the store and letting you install OSX on your PC.

Catch up artist? (4, Interesting)

bmo (77928) | about a year ago | (#44666763)

" The New York Times says that what Microsoft needs now isn't just a CEO, but a catch-up artist, "

No, they've been doing that for the entire history of the company, coming in late to every successful idea long after the competition does. They used to be able to "cut off the oxygen" of their competitors, but they can't do that anymore. Not since they tried to do it to Google and failed utterly.

BMO - Unfortunately, Ballmer is leaving before he's finishing the job of killing the company.

Fresh thinking (3, Insightful)

Natales (182136) | about a year ago | (#44666773)

What bothers me is that Microsoft has really good engineers but lacks a clear strategic direction. Their massive amount of legacy code plus some seriously bad "assumptions" about what the users want have sustained their decline in the last 10 years. It's a sad state of affairs, having used their products since Windows 1.0 when they were "the rebels".

I know it's just my opinion, but given their deep pockets, they should create an incubator unit or a completely separate start-up with huge funding for a re-acquisition later on (similar to what Cisco is doing with Insieme). The purpose of this group should be to go back to their roots, and re-think the way people and companies are expected to interact with computers in the next 10-20 years timeframe, and create a brand new OS with no legacy code, and anticipating the challenges and threats that will evolve overtime as much as possible.

I've always wondered why airplanes and MRI machines can have "mission critical" OSs and software while we all have to deal with crashes and uncertainty. They have the capability to create and bring to market a practical, usable EAL-7 [] OS. We know it has been done before [] , but Microsoft has the capability to make it commercially viable for everyone. And this is only ONE of the things they could do.

Re:Fresh thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666865)

Airplanes and MRI machines perform very specific and narrow functions whereas your PC is a huge swiss army knife.

This isn't to say that desktop OSes couldn't be improved significantly, but it's a tremendous undertaking and it would likely require significant diminishment of the user experience to achieve full compliance.

Re:Fresh thinking (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666917)

No, as an ex-softie I can tell you (sadly) that the "really good engineers" left eons ago. Many of them were my mentors. Ballmer did a *lot* of damage to the technical culture there.

Btw, engineering is a completely different discipline from software development. There is no such thing as a "software engineer" just as there is no such thing as a "sanitation engineer". It's "programmer" and "garbage man", respectively. Though sometimes us old-time programmers feel like garbage men when we clean up trash code written by the juniors...

Windows 9 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666787)

Design the next version of Windows independently from whatever they're putting on mobile/Xbox, build it around making people more productive in virtual reality. That would be forward thinking, imo.

Microsoft and the catch-up artist .. (1)

dgharmon (2564621) | about a year ago | (#44666801)

"The New York Times says that what Microsoft needs now isn't just a CEO, but a catch-up artist, to regain the footing that it had a few years ago as the biggest name in software."

Without the WinTEL monopoly and the onerous lock-in contracts with the OEMs, Microsoft is just another tech company ..

Re:Microsoft and the catch-up artist .. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#44667015)

Not really. Just like IBM they'll need quite a while to get accustomed to not being able to dictate their contracts at will. It almost sank big blue (and would have if that oil tanker had not had even more floating power than MS does).

Whether they survive depends on how quickly they adapt to it, whether they understand that they should find their place and not try to gobble up every market they find. If they continue, well, I will probably not shed a tear.

Too late, but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666807)

Too late, but imagine it wasn't, and these are the changes:

1) app stores for ALL software that can run on Microsoft platforms.
2) a COMPLETE depreciation of Metro/RT/New-UI on desktop class versions of the Windows OS
3) FULL windows on ARM, and a massive push for ARM based desktop/laptop systems with the same focus as the previous x86 based PCs
4) free Metro/RT/New-UI OS for tablets/phones, with money made exclusively from the app-stores and ads.
5) active encouragement for 'RT' based tables being as cheap as the Android-based ones.
6) Extreme depreciation of the NSA Kinect sensor system, allowing the vastly inferior Xbox One to be priced LOWER that the vastly more powerful PS4
7) Immediate project to design the Xbox Two- compatible with the Xbox One, but with GPU hardware at least at PS4 levels- for release Xmas 2014.
8) an END to all propaganda and coercion that attempts to force users to upgrade from ANY version of Windows from XP onwards.
9) official support of ALL API systems from ALL versions of Windows 8 (including new 'versions' of DirectX) on Windows 7 as well. Windows 7 64-bit is the 'new' XP- the MS OS of choice for people with brains, and the OS that such people are willing to stick with for the foreseeable future.
10) an OFFICIAL recognition that policies under Ballmer had made all intelligent MS customers desperately wish for a Linux-based alternative to the Windows ecosystem that was actually worth using.

Even as Tablets become dominant, Desktop/Work-horse PCs are going nowhere. So many of us need a place to do REAL computer work, and Windows has provided that place for so long now. But serious Windows users need a strong vanilla environment that "just works", not "flavour of the month" shit like RT. If MS wishes to work the high gimmick markets, it should NOT be at the expense of the traditional work-horse PC.

How can Microsoft be so MORONIC that it charges for RT. Only a vicious cretin like Ballmer could fail to see the advantage of having ultra-cheapo RT tablets from China all pointing their users at MS app-stores and MS ad servers. With Android, you can pay tens of dollars, or hundreds of dollars for your Tablet. The choice is in the hands of the consumers. With Microsoft, every RT tablet is insanely over-priced shit, with lousy quality control, praised only by tech journalists with a large MS cheque in their back pockets.

And if Ballmer hadn't agreed to the massive pay-off from Intel, Windows 8 would be currently running on ARM based desktops/laptops, building a customer market in readiness for the release of true mains powered ARM parts that will rival Intel in CPU performance, and thrash Intel in GPU performance and memory bandwidth.

But as I said, it's too late by maybe a couple of years now. Microsoft will be in panic response mode as the Xbox One flops, Windows 8 continues to flop, and the rise of Android continues unabated. Microsoft's corporate desktop business is mostly lost once Google releases the desktop version of Android. Microsoft needed to begin the transition to much cheaper computing based on ARM, and cut the umbilical cord that has joined it to Intel since the beginning of the age of the Windows-based PC. Intel CANNOT survive against ARM. Microsoft did have a much better chance surviving against Android (and Linux).

Ballmer is just a scapegoat (4, Insightful)

ruir (2709173) | about a year ago | (#44666809)

In my opinion Ballmer is an operational that was promoted in the wrong time. The problems of Microsoft are symptomatic of a larger disease, and Ballmer is just a scapegoat. Truth to be said, the only product I can remember of being their truly innovation, is Microsoft Basic. The rest was a matter of having the right influence, a matter at time on their side, the right partners, sheer luck, buying what they needed at the right time. It is a known fact after all this years, that DOS was bought to seal a business Gates mom got with his influence, power and political cloud. The fact that consumers preferred a cheaper machine 20 years behind its time just because it had a IBM sticker, and the misguided monopoly that ensued for 3 decades, was a pure stroke of luck. that movement is losing momentum IMO. They had also terrible problems of judgment. The worst of all, was basing their business model in the dominance of the Wintel platform. I don't know for how long their Office platform will hold waters - for instance in a couple of years iWork from Apple will be a real competitor (it already is, minus the Pages utility). They failed to see the Internet coming, and had to buy Internet Explorer. The Zune (music player) was a commercial failure. Windows CE based hardware is/was a terrible flop. Windows 8 and Surface, a customer PR disaster. Their phone platform, despite how many billions they throw at it - 2 billions to Nokia alone, product placement in holywood series, is a product nobody want to touch. They killed their excellent TechNet offering which was the staple of many Microsoft houses. Androids are iPhones are the trojans that are showing whole generations they are not depending anymore on WIntel compatibles to handle their data - either work, emails, documents, spreadsheets. Mac is also making inroads in several faculties. Linux has gained corporate acceptance. VMWare is the king of virtualisation platforms, and XEN a close second The cat is out of the bag it is not mandatory to use IBM compatible/Microsoft products, specially in corporate environments, and the terrible news for MS is this a very different world from the 80s, and customer loyalty isnt up what it used to be.

Re:Ballmer is just a scapegoat (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#44666993)

Customer loyalty is something you earn.

Care to tell us any one action of MS that should make me consider that they might probably have a chance of coming close to deserving it?

Microsoft is where they should be! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44666821)

Microsoft did not get into a position of market dominance by having better products, they got there by underhanded methods. They are now where they should be.

A former user of Lotus 1-2-3, DR-DOS, OS/2, and WordPerfect

The worst thing is, they had some half good ideas. (1)

gallondr00nk (868673) | about a year ago | (#44666841)

MS had some great ideas, but absolutely screwed it up in terms of execution. I occasionally still use a PocketPC from the turn of the millenium and it is genuinely well designed. One example is the design spec for the PPC put a scroll wheel on one side, which means you can hold it in one hand, clicking through pages on Microsoft Reader with the wheel.

If the PocketPC PDAs had used a finger touch screen while at the same time been marketed as a gaming and media player, rather than as purely a business tool I imagine they would have sold like crazy. Instead, it had a calander application and Office.

Re:The worst thing is, they had some half good ide (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about a year ago | (#44667061)

Exactly, there were some great ideas, but the execution was terrible. The scroll wheel was one of my favourites too, I keep waiting for an Android phone to put a wheel like that instead of their volume keys, a volume rocker isn't the same.

Unfortunately either the hardware side or the software side was lacking.

.02 from someone who hasn't been a C, E, or O (2)

hardgeus (6813) | about a year ago | (#44666851)

As sacrilege as it sounds...just give up on Windows. It's over. Nobody cares. The base OS is a commodity at this point, and most good programmers prefer a Unix style environment. Lots of command-line tools, powerful shell scripts, and a world of open source tools.

In my opinion, where Microsoft is still heads-and-shoulders above the competition is in their middle-ware layers. Office is good. Office is really really good. When you really need to use a solid word processor or spreadsheet, the various, splintered openLibreWhateverOffices are just shit. When the files become complex, they can barely open up their own output without corruption.

SQL Server: Good. IIS, C# and .NET development? Good.

In my opinion, they need to focus on all of the good software they have written, and abandon Windows.

Perhaps Windows and these products are too coupled? OK, fine. Open Source Windows. Do it. Systems are too large and complex to steal these days. Who has forked Darwin and cut out Apple's profits? Maybe something exists, but who cares.


Make Windows Open Source

Re:.02 from someone who hasn't been a C, E, or O (1)

ruir (2709173) | about a year ago | (#44666895)

The truth is Office is bloated. At the moment the only truly product is has still no genuine competition because it managed to kill the competition with their market stronghold in the windows 95, is Office. Excel nowadays got really good competitors, unless you are heavily into accounting/macro usage. Office for Mac is intentionally crippled to give a leverage to the Windows OS and it is a shame. SQLServer is a robust product, however is too heavy, unwieldy and power hungry. From the two evils, I would prefer to go to Oracle, or for smaller projects MySQL. Often people make a mistake of using Gorillas like Oracle or SqlServer to power corporate sites. Apache and newer competitors beat the living daylights out of IIS. I have strong security concerns of deploying IIS servers. C# and .NET, my developer friends say it is the best thing next to sliced bread. Given the track records of Microsoft killing or changing the core functionality of products, I doubt I will ever invest my time on them. I would make a further comment. Are really they able to open source Windows? How much code was taken from the Linux/BSD project without proper acknowledgements? How much code all intellectual property of others? How many bad code coming from DOS days is there?

Re:.02 from someone who hasn't been a C, E, or O (1)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about a year ago | (#44667075)

The truth is Office is bloated.

MS Office is "bloated" because it has a lot of features you don't use, but someone else does. You'd be surprised just how many businesses have Excel or Access "programs" as a major part of their daily workflows. This is why MS Office's competitors haven't made much headway.

OS X and Windows are the only good DEs out there (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44667027)

I disagree. The Windows Desktop Environment and OS X are the only two good Desktop Environments out there. ONLY Windows will work well on the many different chipsets, sound cards, wifi adapters, cellular modems, Printers, Scanners, Cameras, bluetooth headsets, and others out there. Microsoft has thousands of programmers, working on all those dull subsystems that few care about. GNU/FOSS still has trouble with sound cards, and changing monitor resolution. Good luck finding power saving settings. OS X requires Apple, and Apple compatible hardware. That $100 bucks for a Desktop Windows license saves a lot of heartache on weird peripherals, and can run all sorts of programs. Only Microsoft can do that.

Re:OS X and Windows are the only good DEs out ther (0)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44667047)

Maybe you should try a Linux distribution that's less than twenty years old.

As for 'Windows Desktop Environment' being good, any chance of that went away with Windows 8.

The problem is in their business strategy (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#44666947)

And that it doesn't work anymore.

Their creed was "embrace - extend - extinguish". It worked like a charm with open source technologies and technologies developed by small companies. They noticed something caught on, they hopped on the train, claimed it, blew a shitload of money into it, "added" to it so it was no longer compatible with the original stuff, turned their broken design into the de-facto standard by virtue of their market position and finally everyone was "inferior" because they were "incompatible".

And that doesn't work with companies like Apple and Google who themselves play that game, and they really excel at it. AND on top of that, they needn't wait for someone to come up with a new technology people actually want: They can create it themselves, because they also know something about design.

And marketing, of course, but marketing has never been the weak spot of MS. But here's the other reason why they are falling behind more and more: Design. And their lack of it. When "the masses" started to join the IT world, design suddenly became important. While we might not care about rounded corners and whether our boxes blend nicely into our living room, the average Joe out there does. Yes, their crap doesn't have any better specs than MS' stuff does, but it LOOKS better and it WORKS easier.

And MS may be much, but designers, they are not. Neither designers of nifty looking gadgets nor designers of intuitive interfaces.

Not Fallen Flat with Everthing (1)

meustrus (1588597) | about a year ago | (#44667011)

Since 2000? They didn't fall flat in everything. They did pretty well the XBox, not to mention their success with Windows XP.

Re:Not Fallen Flat with Everthing (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44667021)

Except the Xbox has lost money over its lifetime.

There's no real competition in game consoles, not because the Xbox is so good, but because companies can't make money there.

Catch-up artist? No. (1)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about a year ago | (#44667093)

MS doesn't need a "catch-up artist"; they need a rollback artist. They just need to roll back the dumb mistakes of the last couple of years. Announcing that Win9 will be based on Win7 (and thus that Win8 was a mistake which won't be repeated) would win them back quite a bit of the goodwill they lost. Adding back the option to use menus instead of the Ribbon in MS Office might help, as well. (I actually like the MS Office Ribbon now that I've gotten used to it, but many long-time users with experience with the old menu system hate it, and their preferences should be respected, too.)

MS's sales pitch should be something along these lines: "Apple products are nice toys for home users, but when you need to get real work done, you come to us." Their competitive advantage is in the business world, where they get to sell lots of different products because they interoperate well and maintain backward compatibility. Focus on that and stop chasing consumer fads.

Consistency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44667113)

I think what Microsoft needs is consistency... They have everything but nothing is well integrated.

They have three popular platforms with millions of users : Windows, Xbox and Skype.

It's nice to have a stand-alone app like Skype to make calls but this should be an integrated feature of a bigger service like a social network, just like hangout is integrated in Google+. Where is the Microsoft social network offering ?

Well, they have the Xbox platform, with Xbox Music, Xbox Video and Xbox Games, it's starting to look like Google's Play stores. But what about Windows Store, in which you can find apps but also games and movies ?

I have a Skype profil, a Messenger profil and an Xbox profil. 3 profiles but still no real social network service ?

Microsoft have the Windows Phone and the Surface tablet, why not the Windows tablet or the Surface phone ? On them, you will find Xbox apps. So why not naming every devices the Xbox device ?

I just hope Microsoft will open their eyes and fix the fragmentations and inconsistencies I see across all Microsoft services.

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