Blast From The Past - My Thoughts On Microsoft 1 Year Ago

Hi gang! As you might know, I switched blog host providers a couple of weeks ago. In the process, I lost my entire blog. I've decided to start from scratch. But in between my bright flashes of creativity, I'm going to post some of my old articles that I dig up on the Internet Archive's "Way Back Machine" and see how things have turned out since posting.

This is the first "Blast From The Past" post that I wrote on the topic of the Microsoft Corporation's slipping market dominance. I think I would disagree with this article now, especially since Microsoft has made a bold new aliance with the Nokia corporation. What are your thoughts? Post your comments below!

With no further adieu, here is the old post:


I just don’t get it… what is it with Microsoft these past few years? Microsoft and “monopoly” used to be one in the same in the days of Bill Gates. Sure, they still dominate the world market with some impressive financial numbers, but will they hold their position given their current philosophy and lackluster vision?

It seems to me that the giant in Redmond has become complacent. They have a whopping 88% of the world’s market share in desktop computers with their Windows operating system. Plus, the XBOX 360 has jumped ahead of Wii and PS3. Kinect was the hottest selling gaming gadget for Christmas 2010. But the end result is that Microsoft is resting on its laurels.

However, Apple surpassed Microsoft’s market capitalization in May of 2010 to become the world’s largest tech company. Sure, Apple’s current status as “king of the hill” is not guaranteed to last due to the fact that company value fluctuates wildly based purely upon stock price. But would anyone have imagined this to have happened just 10 years ago? No.

Once upon a time, everyone thought that Apple’s days were numbered before CEO Steve Jobs rejoined the company to bring them back into their glory. Apple was considered the yuppy alternative to computer systems and electronic devices when compared to the standard that Microsoft had set. Developers would never have guessed that their future would be in writing little apps for the revolutionary iPhone.

Now Microsoft has become a reactionary company under the somewhat “visionless” leadership of Steve Ballmer. They’ve handed over the title of “innovator” on a silver platter to Steve Jobs. Instead of keeping the lead role in breaking open new fertile markets and taking huge risks, they’ve sat on their laurels and rested on the security of their flagship products in known markets.

Let’s consider a few of the unproven markets that Apple took the extreme gamble on and led the way, with Microsoft responding late in the game:

The iPhone & iOS Smart Phone Platform

In 2007, Apple released the first generation iPhone. Where was Microsoft? Fooling around with Windows Mobile 6.5, a sad excuse for a mobile phone platform. 3 years passed by before they released the impressive and user-friendly Windows Phone 7 platform, which to me is more intuitive than the iOS operating system. But as great as Windows Phone 7 is, it’s entirely too late. They should have done this long before. The release did not make a big splash, and I don’t see it possible at this time for them to catch up and overtake Apple’s iOS. They missed the boat. Apple will dominate this market for years to come, no matter how good Windows Phone 7 gets, because iOS is in the “perfecting” stage while Phone 7 is in the elementary stages.

The iPod Touch

Yet again, Microsoft let Apple solidify their dominance with the groundbreaking iPod touch before they even thought about getting the Zune out to market to compete. How do you sit on your can and let the iPod touch snatch up the entire market when you created the standard with the Windows operating system? It’s too late for Zune, and the Zune HD will not be the device that wins back the hearts of consumers. They can forget it. The iPod touch is now the standard in portable gaming and music.

Internet Browsers

During the 90’s, Internet Explorer was the only choice when it came to browsers. Netscape was the old standard, but IE quickly erased their lead. Nowadays, Firefox has established the number one position. According to W3 Schools, they took the lead away from Microsoft during 2008. The trend continues for Firefox, and IE is still sliding losing market share and even has Chrome on its heels. I don’t know what the future holds for IE, but it’s not looking very good at this point in time.

The iPad & Tablet Market

Tablet computers aren’t really that new. The Apple Newton was one of the first, and it failed miserably. Microsoft had partnered with several hardware manufacturers to produce various tablets during the 2000’s that never took off. Apple took the huge gamble on releasing the iPad, and set the standard. They practically created the market, only to watch everyone else in the world scramble to make a late entry. Not a single tablet product threatens the iPad now. While there are noteworthy contenders in the Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab, the iPad is clearly ahead of the game. Most companies are pushing their inaugural tablet products while Apple crushes the competition with their 2nd generation iPad.

During the time that the iPad was originally released, rumors swirled about the fabled Microsoft Courier. It was an entirely new concept that was in no way similar to the iPad. If they were going to enter the market late, at least they were going to do so with something totally outside of the box. The Courier was supposed to be a brand new concept mimicking a book with two 7″ displays hinged in the middle. The operating system was to be based upon the Microsoft Surface concept (something else that has stayed stuck in the developmental stages, never to be released as a consumer product).

The Courier turned out to be vaporware. Microsoft ditched the project. But why? As large as a company that Microsoft is, wouldn’t you think they’d have the research and development budget to push the project and get it out to market in a reasonable time? Sadly, they did not make the effort. They’ve been talking about releasing tablets for 2 years now, and just can’t come up with a workable tablet interface.

Now Microsoft is talking about showcasing future Windows 8 tablet concepts in June of 2011. What the heck is that all about? iPad 2 is on sale right now, and they are still talking about showcasing future products this summer? This is so sad it is shameful. In my opinion, they may as well throw in the towel and stick to pushing the XBOX 360 and Kinect products. If I were a major stockholder, I’d be asking for the heads of leadership. Somebody with real vision and and a proven track record of being proactive needs to take control of this company. This is the biggest disappointment of all in my opinion.

I could take this farther, but these are the areas where I see Microsoft hurting the most in the future. I think a serious leadership change is in order for Microsoft. If they don’t initiate some kind of major change in their glass tower, they’re going to be looking like Apple during the late 80’s.

Carlton Flowers
Disappointed Microsoft Fanboy