Collateral Damage or Silver Lining?

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Either of the above could be the title of this post. I recently posted Microsoft: So long, and thanks for all the fish… and some of the replies to that really got me thinking.

Collateral Damage was my first thought. Am I just an acceptable loss to Microsoft as someone who won’t buy into their rather restrictive vision? No, I don’t want to always use Edge thanks, the stuttering I get on videos is horrendous, and doesn’t seem to affect other browsers (same goes for the occasional online games I play). And no, I really cannot see how you are helping my productivity by moving the cheese around twice a year and cluttering my PC with stuff I neither need nor want.

But. Whilst some see the recent MS reorg as taking the spotlight off Windows, I can see a potential Silver Lining here. Windows is mature, it doesn’t NEED a whole lot of anything done, let alone the MS vanity projects which seem to find their way into the OS. Is the reorg actually going to give me the stability I crave in a desktop OS, or are MS going to make collateral damage of all of us whilst they cram the MS-way down our throats and try to milk every last penny/cent from the cow (sorry, I believe they call it monetizing the OS).

Bottom line is that MS either lack clarity of vision, or they have the vision but lack the ability to communicate it. Right now they come across as desperate and directionless. This wouldn’t be a problem if it only affected some obscure system, but we’re talking about something I personally use for a minimum of 10 hours almost every day.

I was holding out for the next wave of MS mobile, but you know what? I’ve still got the scars from Windows phone. I’m not waiting with baited breath for another year for a product which takes 2 years to mature and gets trash canned 2 years after that.

I’d love to know what others think on this one. I do wonder if my young kids will grow up and never use an MS product. I can really see that coming. In the same way I used to know who IBM were and what they did (but now have no idea what they do), will it be the same in 10-15 years time for MS? I this what they ultimately want, or are they just sleep walking into it anyway?

So many questions, so few answers (at least from MS…).

Comments (8)

8 responses to “Collateral Damage or Silver Lining?”

  1. Brad Sams

    Microsoft's vision seems be clear(er) these days...they are not in the businesses anymore of loss-leaders (band, groove, mobile, etc)...clearly they are following the money and not taking big risks to force their way into new markets for consumers.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to brad-sams:

      Yes. The natural side-effect of all this will be lip-service for consumers ("every business user is a consumer too!") but the real emphasis being on the commercial (businesses, education, government) side.

      • PaulHewitt

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        Hi Brad & Paul. For that to make complete sense then why the constant upgrades and changes? None of the groups you mention want that kind of tempo. I can only see two possibilities, either the foot is going to come off the gas and W10 will settle down or the right-hand and left-hand really aren't communicating.


        I understand the repositioning away from some of the consumer side-shows they've become embroiled in, I just cannot fathom what they are trying to achieve with windows itself, especially since what they actually seem to be achieving is the alienation of a not inconsiderable chunk of their user base.

        • ChristopherCollins

          In reply to PaulHewit


          Windows 10 needs to settle down. It needs to be stripped down too. The Pro version takes a lot of time to remove games, etc... I had to roll that out in a hurry and it wasn't fun. I want a minimal version of Windows 10 in which I can turn on additional feature IF I want to. We'll pay money for that.


          Just an install with ONLY the components required to be a competent OS.


      • hrlngrv

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        "every business user is a consumer too!"

        Made me think of the original 1984 Mac commercial with a voice-over saying consume this!

  2. hrlngrv

    Lighten up.

    MSFT is no more abandoning Windows than IBM has abandoned mainframes. Windows is simply no longer the main cash cow, so MSFT is shifting its main focus to those business units which have become top cash cow today (Office) and which seem likely to become #1 cash cow in the future (Azure).

    From a different perspective, there's much which Windows could use to make it more secure, but it'd cost significant development time, so it's unlikely to happen. Are more breaches due to defeating passwords, or do more breaches happen when authenticated users are logged in and do something foolish (or many foolish things)? I suspect the main threat vector remains the user, so Windows needs more security for when authenticated users are logged in rather than more work on authenticating users. However, the ROI may no longer be there for that level of redesign.

    Anyway, if what comes after Windows is better (however measured), what's the harm? How would your kids suffer if MSFT was as unknown to them as, say, Xerox as long as they could do more on their computing devices than you could on yours when you were their age? Why should MSFT be the Disney of tech?

  3. dcdevito

    I think Microsoft has to do what's best for the health of their company, which means "going to where the puck will be, not where it is now, and not where its consumers want it to be". Yes, in many ways I feel this is IBM all over again, however, Microsoft has much more technical clout as they own the most dominant OS platform in history. They still have over 1B active Windows users, and if most of them are business users then so be it, because those customers are the most important - in many ways they always were. Microsoft was already starting this transition in the early to mid 90s when they started the server version of Windows, right? I see this as the next transition, the work they have been doing for so long is (quite literally) paying off. It seems Bill Gates and their SLT saw this coming, perhaps it took longer than they anticipated, but now the curve is steeper.

    As for our kids, I concur, I don't think my kids will ever see MSFT products in schools, but I do see them using them in the workforce. I don't think MSFT will have the dominance it has now, I see more of a heterogeneous market in the future, where the big cloud providers (Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Apple) will find ways to integrate "other people's" devices into their ecosystem.

    With IoT I see Microsoft continuing down the enterprise path yet still growing. As Paul mentioned the other day, there are WAY more IoT devices than even mobile.

    IoT > Mobile > PC

  4. Tony Barrett

    I think it's pretty obvious MS are heading headfast to the cloud - asap, and despite Windows not being their #1 system anymore, they're trying to drag that with them too. Nadella's a cloud man, so you can see his direction - taking refuge with the Enterprise, away from those dang consumers. Win10S + Edge as the main interface is, I think, where MS are heading with Windows, with PWA and to a lesser extent UWP from their app store being the main app types. It wouldn't surprise me if they've looked at ChromeOS and seen something there, and they want part of it, but to get there, they're going to jettison a lot of users along the way. Maybe MS think they can pick up the next wave who will only know Windows as it will become, not what it is now, but I'm not so sure. Very few of the next wave will chose Windows - Google and Apple will see to that, but Enterprises will hang onto it for as long as they can, because Enterprises move very slowly anyway.

    Yes, in 10-15 years, MS will still be with us, but I don't think they, or Windows for that matter, will resemble anything like they do now.

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