What’s become of poor Microsoft? Alright, ‘poor’ is a relative term. Microsoft basks in riches far beyond the scope of most modern technology companies. Except maybe when compared to longtime nemesis Apple, which is richer than many countries and deities. Combined.
No, Microsoft is poor in the figurative sense, as in blind, lost, and alone as the mobile device revolution sweeps by leaving the Windows and Office maker to lick wounds and dust. Based on the company’s recent actions it is not far fetched to see that Windows is no longer the last, great hope, but as part of a coherent strategy to make it to the future– Microsoft’s once dominant operating system seems abandoned.
As many tech companies do when they run into riches, Microsoft ran out of ideas. Stealing from others is not a long term or viable strategy, so Microsoft did the next best thing. It gave tens of billions to investors. It wasted tens of billions more trying to diversify beyond Windows and Offices, the two first great cash cows of the 21st century. To the former, giving away billions, Microsoft and co-founder Bill Gates were crazy successful. To the latter, few companies have wasted more money to create more new revenue and profit streams and reached failure more often than Microsoft.
Once mighty Windows hit 95-percent marketshare among operating systems Apple’s Mac appeared demolished, demoralized, and left it in obscurity. Or, so Microsoft’s executives, not to mention technorati elite and market naysayers, thought about the situation. Not only did Apple’s Mac live, it thrived, and grew, even as traditional PC sales wavered in the revolution that missed Microsoft completely. The Mac is beyond back. It rocks.
Today, the world absorbs more smartphones and tablets than PC desktops and notebooks, Microsoft’s total share of the combined technology OS market is about to hit 20-percent, and the company has only a negligible presence in the area that grows the fastest– mobile devices. Microsoft is so desperate that you can hear the gear shifting a continent away, here in Brooklyn.
The future for Microsoft is in the cloud, and I have no doubt company executives have waded through a thousand Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, and PowerPoint presentations which highlight the new direction the company must go. It must.
It’s not like those executives learned much by reading similar spreadsheets, reports, and presentations on dozens of failed acquisitions over the past 20 years, none of which have added Diddley Squat™ to the company’s bottom line, but which expanded costs, structure, and inertia beyond Microsoft’s ability to function against more nimble competitors.
No, the future of Microsoft is the cloud, and guess what’s not in the cloud? Windows. Microsoft apologist Mary Jo Foley sees the light, too, and thinks Microsoft is going platform agnostic in the future and that means Windows is the relic OS that gets left behind; profitable on PCs, but less so, a familiar name in technology for technology that users are increasingly abandoning in favor of cloud services and mobile devices.
Windows on mobile devices is a non-starter in the marketplace, aging far before its time, and Microsofties can only hope there’s enough fuel in Windows among traditional PCs to make the lumbering and long slumbering giant make it to a new future where profits roam but buffalo don’t. Windows won’t go away on PCs any time soon, but you won’t see it or hear much about Windows in Microsoft’s new future.