The rise and fall of Microsoft?

The Computer Front:
Let’s journey back. Say, back to the year 2000? Microsoft has just launched their new OS for businesses. It’s called ‘Windows 2000’ (how imaginative. Well, giving one OS a number (and the wrong number at that) is rather unimaginative as well. Ironically, ‘Vista’ seems to be the best name they thought up.). The home computer user thinks ‘ooh, I want a new OS by Microsoft’. Microsoft (probably) thinks ‘ooh, lots of potential moneys. Thinks, my preciouses, what can we do?’. So Microsoft makes their one-per-5-year-blunder, they launch Windows ME. However, they quickly recover, and launch XP. This is where the main problem lies. People were eager for a new OS, hated Windows ME, but thought ‘I’ll give them one more chance’ so they upgrade to XP. They love it. It’s got curves, colours and it works! Homes, businesses, governments, health services, shops, garages, everyone! upgrades to XP. And sticks with it. The adventurous few who upgraded to Vista more than five years later quickly realise their mistake and alert everyone (there were also the few people who bought computers and wanted to have the newest thing ‘Vista’. Their wounds cannot be healed, and they have now deserted Windows for OS X or Linux), so everyone stayed with XP. Microsoft, thinking it doesn’t really matter, take their time, and just under three years later they say ‘hey, don’t worry! We know we scared you by completely redesigning Windows and ruining it, so look what we’ve done! We’ve created a better OS.’ People take one look at it. Apart from the taskbar being even less like XP than the Vista one (that’s a bad thing if Vista is better), there’s no visual difference. If you look at the market share figures, Microsoft currently ‘only’ has around about a 90% market share. 60% of all computer users still use XP! Only 17% use Windows 7, and surprisingly (presumably the non-computery people) 13% still use Vista. The amount of people using Vista is larger than the amount of people using Mac OS and Linux combined! So you are probably (quite reasonably) thinking ‘then what’s the problem?’. Well, to the best of my memory, the MS Windows market share has been falling. Just a few percent in something of this scale is huge. Microsoft has gone against my ‘one-per-5-year-blunder’ (in other words, if a technology company makes a mistake (hated, awful product) they can’t make any more mistakes for five years, otherwise oh dear), as they have made two big mistakes in only three years. And that’s just on the OS front! With Internet Explorer losing popularity (as bulkier and more people becoming aware of other browsers) and two (yet again with the twos!) nearly unusable office suites (note to Microsoft: people aren’t going to pay you money for a nice looking way to get less done in the same amount of time!). Microsoft’s fallback/reserve was computers, and now that is slipping.

The Phone front:
I have always seen Windows Mobile as the business OS for your pocket. iOS can be business, but can also be just for ‘fun’, Android is for fun and RIM’s OS is for the out of office emailer (I’m not taking WebOS seriously enough for it to count. Anyone use a Palm Pre/Pixi? I rest my case). Microsoft had a nice big niche that suited them well. For example, if you read what HTC says about the Touch Pro2 (which runs Windows Mobile 6.1/6.5), it’s all business based! People were happy with what Windows Mobile did, and welcomed the few additions and graphical improvements, but didn’t mind if they didn’t update. Windows Mobile could also run on relatively low specification devices, which meant businesses could buy cheap, reliable and useable devices for their employees to use. However, as you all know, Microsoft just launched Windows Phone 7. If you have seen anything about it, you may have noticed the lack of ‘business’. Yeah, bad move MS. Of course, it still has elements of business, but they are on par with features such as ‘social’ and ‘xbox live’. I can’t really use much of Twitter on my WM5 phone, but I don’t mind! Nor do I want to check xbox live statuses (mainly because I don’t have an xbox (keep reading), but that’s beside the point). Pointless! Conference calling, hurriedly editing a word document on the train for a presentation or checking the odd email is what Windows Mobile did best, not Twittering (best on iOS or Android) or gaming (if you’re a businessman, face it, you don’t have an xbox or the time to play on one). Other companies have control over the other markets, so you don’t need to waste your time on trying and failing to take control of them. Let’s have a quick look at the six launch devices that run Windows Phone 7, shall we? (they all have really high specifications, so already we can see it’s no longer just business. Also, nor does that mean cheap). Three HTC devices (business), a Dell (can you spell business any other way? No you can’t. However, it does have rather a Palm Pre style unusable length-ways slide out keyboard) a Samsung and an LG. The majority would appear to have business pasts with Windows Mobile, but now have to change.

The Games Console front:
The PS3 may cost more and (seemingly) have less of an online social base, but if you want a good gaming experience, you buy a PS3. With an Xbox, you have to pay for online services (Sony, you’re sinking to Microsoft’s level with playstation plus), you get more of an arcade experience, and of course, the red ring of death. Out of all the people I know that have an Xbox 360, I don’t think any of them have ever not had the red ring of death. Of course, as with Vista, Microsoft was not quick to respond. Instead of fixing it, they just kept giving people replacement consoles. Generous, but rather a ‘can’t be bothered’ attitude. Microsoft recently launched a slimmer, smaller Xbox 360 (in the same ‘We don’t want to release a whole new console for a while, but here’s something new to complain about.’ manner that Sony used) that doesn’t seem to (from what I’ve heard) suffer from the red ring of death (mainly because there is no ring) but no one is going to trust Microsoft again without evidence, so not much new money there.

The Portable Media front:
The Zune. Seriously? You have to be joking. Microsoft has so much faith in it it’s not even in the UK.

In summary, Microsoft hasn’t been getting as many customers as they used to from what it seems, so this clearly can’t be good. You may still be devoted to Microsoft, but they haven’t seen the colour of your money since you bought Office 2003.


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