Microsoft: A 21st-century has-been?

“Early this month, Neil Holloway, president of Microsoft EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa), said that in six months Microsoft’s search engine ‘will be more relevant’ to the consumer than Google’s. It is no coincidence that Holloway used the word “relevant.” In high tech more than in any other industry, if your technology has been bypassed by the newer and better, you’re dead. Maintaining your relevancy is Job One. And for years, it has been Microsoft’s Achilles’ heel,” Ephraim Schwartz writes for InfoWorld. Now, “we have the sad spectacle of Microsoft announcing Microsoft Live — once again late to the table — as if it were suddenly going to own the SaaS (software as a service) space when it didn’t even have a ‘relevant’ product to accompany its announcement.”

“…There is a lot of history and significance behind Holloway’s statement. But for me, it was an unfortunate boast that just highlights how far behind Microsoft really is. Yes, Google’s search engine is a high-profile target for competitors, but Google has moved well beyond being the best search engine on the block. Google established that beachhead several years ago. It is now busy leveraging it by making inroads into the enterprise (with the Google Search Appliance) and even more directly onto the desktop (with Google Desktop),” Schwartz writes. “Google is looking for fiber-optics engineers. Why? Perhaps, some say, because they will soon be offering streaming applications over the Internet. Choose your operating system and the apps you want to use, and Google will stream them to you directly. The point is, Microsoft’s boast that it will have a better search engine in six months sounds like too little, too late. Microsoft looks like a drowning man, flailing around in a huge ocean, desperately trying to find land. We are witnessing the end of an era. I’m not sure that any one company will ever hold sway over an industry the way Microsoft did, but I am sure that the enterprise has far more options now that it ever has — and will be increasingly inclined to use them.”

Full article here.

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32 Comments

  1. Microsoft was late to the game with the GUI, they were late to realize the Internet revolution, they were late to realize the digital music revolution, they still haven’t figured out security, and now they’re late again.

    Someone please explain to me again how a company that is consistently late to market with second-rate quality products maintains a 90% market share in desktop operating systems and office software?

    I just don’t get it.

  2. blucaso.

    I’ll take a shot

    – They recognized that there was an opportunity to work with multiple hardware vendor and to license them their OS. (Arguably Apple’s biggest mistake)
    – They got lucky in their legal batte against Apple over the OS UI.
    – They made some very good acquisitions
    – They haven’t had the senior management flops that Apple has had.
    – They were the first to really leverage the power of a biz suite that included spreadsheet, word processing, presentations, and a desktop database
    – Obscene marketing resources
    – MS managed to leverage its dominance on the desktop to squeeze out other software companies (Netcape for example – although they were found liable over this by courts but it didn’t matter by then)
    – They really went after developers specially biz application developers and catered to them. By doing so they have forever locked the biz software market. (Apple was never able to do this)
    – They have established local world wide presence.
    – They hire very talented people and pay them very well.

    Notice that there wasn’t much innovation in the above.

  3. Let’s get one thing straight, Microsoft has never been an innovator they’ve been a follower. Google and Apple are innovators and where they go Microsoft follows. However, business and most consumers don’t give a damn about this and will go with the majority. That’s just life. Is Microsoft finished…hell no. They’ve got a long way to go to lose a 90 percent market share. I’m just waiting to see the reaction to Vista. Let’s revisit the whole Microsoft debate in a year’s time.

  4. I’m just waiting to see the reaction to Vista. Let’s revisit the whole Microsoft debate in a year’s time.

    And this, friends, is how Microsoft maintains its grip on the industry, by keeping everyone waiting for whatever they’ve got coming out “any year now” and reserving their judgment until then. They’ve been playing this game with the press and their customers as long as they’ve been in business.

    “Software X is great, has all the features I could ask for and then some, is available now, and is lightyears ahead of what Microsoft is selling…but let’s wait another year or two to see what Microsoft’s got in the pipeline before we make a decision. They’ve said it’s really going to be cool.”

  5. I once had a friend named Sarah, who after finishing her residency in opthalmology, showed up at a wedding wearing an incredible dress and done up to the ‘nines’…..everyone commented how beautifull she looked— her reply: ‘Money Helps!’

    An so it goes for Microsoft (M$), who after Gates actually once admitted they blew it by not thinking email would be important, went out an bought Hotmail.com for $400,000,000+

    And the worst part is, it was likely a steal.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a happy ‘kool-aid’ drinker and writing this message on my 8th Mac and 9th Apple including the ][e, but M$ has enough resourses and money to succeed without innovation or much luck.

    It would take an entire paradym shift of the operating systems to destroy the windows monopoly, and no one know when, where or even what that will be………

    j.m.

  6. blucaso:

    MS cannot afford to innovate. They sell on stability and security (as strange as that may seem) (our systems behave as they always have, we are here and will always be here).
    They cannot take chances on new technology. They cannot afford to develop new ways of doing things and take the chance that their corporate customers will not like what they bring to the table. If it is too different from status quo there is a distinct chance that the cutomers will take their business elsewhere.
    They let others develop new things and test the waters. If the new developments “take off” and the customers asks for it they either buy the technology or make a copy.
    MS is completely dependent on other firms to take the chances.

  7. Windoze does not have 90% installed base. SPA estimated Mac installed base at 16% in 1994 or early 95. Linux and other OS’s have at least some share of the pie too.

    M$ has bad karma. The average person hates them.

    For decades IBM dominated the computer business. Things change, and even 800 lbs gorillas fall off the top of the hill.

    M$’s days are numbered.

  8. Rainy Day

    I think, if you go outside of Tech Circles… i.e. in the real world… People don’t hate Microsoft at all. They just use windows to browse the web, or send email, or write a document etc…..

    The average person uses windows, and accepts it, does not hate it, and if anything, loves it and would love Vista more.

    It’s only MAC & Linux people that think the world hates Microsoft

  9. I think, that regarding how people view Microsoft and Windows… they see it as a necessary evil. They know it has faults, they know it crashes and that there are either better or more suited OSes, but they put up with MS. Why? Well, ask why some people stay in a relationship when one partner has been cheating, or (a better analogy) the relationship has gone ‘stale’.

    An aside: I operate an iMac G5, latest version of OS X. Why has my system fan constantly revved higher since I started typing this?

  10. “Microsoft was late to the game with the GUI, they were late to realize the Internet revolution, they were late to realize the digital music revolution, they still haven’t figured out security, and now they’re late again.

    Someone please explain to me again how a company that is consistently late to market with second-rate quality products maintains a 90% market share in desktop operating systems and office software?

    I just don’t get it.”

    Leverage. I always said their market share was never about best product.

  11. Billy Ash,
    That’s not entirely true. Most people use Windows because they have nothing else to use ( at work) or they think there is nothing else to use or use it because “everyone else uses it.”

    And also people use Windows because it comes pre-loaded in some cheap box they bought.

    When folks talk to me about their PC, first thing they say is how dirt cheap they bought it, second thing they mention is how many applications they can run (though most people use less than half a dozen regularly) and the third thing they go on and on about is the problems they have with their precious cheap boxes.

    When I analyze what they say it’s a user-related issue or Windows-related issue.

    Most Windows take to the Mac OS very easily and love it that they don’t have to hassle the headaches that comes with Windows.

    Now the real Mac Haters…I find that they are snotty, know-it-all IT people who like to get in a loud pissing contest and they don’t know squat about Macs.

    But for God’s sake people, if you absolutely have to run Windows or if you don’t have good sense enough to switch to a Mac, at least buy a quality machine.

  12. Unfortunately your man on the street doesn’t hate Microsoft. In many ways they’re too stupid to even realise that things can and should be better.

    I asked someone recently who was getting a new pc if they’d considered a mac, they said no because they’d used their neighbours’ once and didn’t like it because they couldn’t figure out how to print a webpage! From that they wrote off Mac’s completely.
    Forget that printing on OS X is essentially the same as windows; File > Print, click the printer icon or use a system wide keyboard shortcut etc , even forgetting all that I find it mind boggling that because of one perceived difference or difficulty someone would rule out something new entirely. Of course windows could then change how you do a certain thing with Vista and they’d just take it as natural progression, an annoyance but get used to it.

    This is the battle other vendors face against Microsoft, by and large people get into a rut and don’t like change, no matter how small the change or how much easier it could be for them – and it seems worse with computers.

  13. Billy Ash,
    You are half right. Most people don’t hate Microsucks, but they also don’t love them – they are just ambivalent. Like John says above me, “people behave like blind sheep”. It’s only the true thinkers who realize how horrible Winblows is, especially given that it is 2006. People should expect and demand more from an OS that looks and acts like it’s 1996.

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