MS’ "Let the Past Die" consumer strategy


Thought provoking article over at Windows Central on MS’ consumer strategy. What are your thoughts?

Comments (18)

18 responses to “MS’ "Let the Past Die" consumer strategy”

  1. Tony Barrett

    There's lot of MS spin in that article (it's an MS fan site after all). People over on WC are a very optimistic bunch, so they'll try to find a positive in every MS screw up. If MS are trying to 'let the past die' as they say, they're doing a very good job, but they're also letting the present and likely the future die along with it. People only have so much patience, and MS have stretched that beyond breaking point for many. Botched products, poor support, misinformation, terrible marketing it's a long list. It's all well and good saying 'MS are looking decades ahead', but sorry, nobody has a crystal ball. I'd say absolute best case, with a huge pinch of salt, you can look 3-5 years hence. No point MS trying to look that far ahead when they can't even get next week right.

  2. skane2600

    Backward compatibility is arguably Microsoft's biggest advantage. Without it, the Mac probably would have reached a 50% market share long ago.

  3. illuminated

    Maintaining legacy platform is very difficult. It is much easier to go the Apple way implementing only minimum functionality and abandoning the old one without hesitation. Microsoft has a very difficult task of maintaining backward compatibility and moving forward. Going modular is the only logical way.

    Now talking about crystal balls.. to me it is quite clear that even 20-30 years later we will have some people running windows 10. We also would have a bunch of old guys whining about windows 95.

    • wright_is

      In reply to illuminated:

      I've always seen Microsoft aiming to gradually move legacy Win32 programs into Hyper-V containers over time, making it harder and harder for the applications to integrate well with other tasks, while still being able to run in isolation.

      They haven't started on this wholesale yet, but I think it might well come to pass.

    • GT Tecolotecreek

      In reply to illuminated: It is much easier to go the Apple way implementing only minimum functionality and abandoning the old one without hesitation.

      Exactly what products did Apple abandon without hesitation?

      • wright_is

        In reply to GT_Tecolotecreek:

        First and second generation iMacs, Rosetta, there is a very long list. My old iMac still runs Windows fine, but was abandoned 3 years ago by Apple (no more security updates for Lion, the last version of OS X to run on it).

  4. JimP

    Ironically, the two products they cite as examples as failures and why MS should give up, Windows Phone and Microsoft Band, are the two examples I would cite as reasons why MS should NOT have given up. Microsoft made many mistakes with Windows Phone. They started too late and gave up too soon. If you go back to circa-Windows Phone 8.1 days, Microsoft had stopped the bleeding. Windows Phone was no longer losing market share and was actually starting to grow - albeit slowly - but market share was finally starting to go up. Inexplicably, at the moment when things were finally starting to turn around, that's when Microsoft decided to give up.

    As for the Band, I have no idea what it's market share is or was. All I know is that people who bought the Band liked it. A lot. It was getting tons of positive feedback. What's more Microsoft actually beat Apple to the market. That's right: once upon a time, Microsoft Band had a bigger market share than the Apple Watch! But instead of promoting the Band with a wide-ranging advertising campaign, they gave up.

    Maybe it's time to admit that making Satya Nadella CEO was a mistake?

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to JimP:

      More complicated.

      Re phones, MSFT had reached the point at which they'd be making more than 90% of Windows phones, meaning minimal licensing revenues for phone OSes. Maybe MSFT could have sold some high-end phones, in 2015 it was selling several times more mid-level and lower-end phones. There wasn't going to be much profits to be made from Windows phones.

      Re Band, it didn't run any version of Windows, so it also was unlikely to lead to much licensing revenues, and the whole devices also weren't going to be profitable in a big way.

      Finally, apps. Chicken and egg. 1.5 billion or whatever number of PCs in use meant nothing for MSFT's mobile dreams. There was no leveraging PCs to support phones and wearables. That came as a horrible shock to MSFT, but once that became clear, it meant establishing MSFT in mobile was going to cost a lot more than Ballmer's MSFT had estimated. MSFT's board clearly doesn't believe the investment would pay off. BTW, Windows phones user share came mostly from Europe, and it should be clear by now that Europe means nothing to MSFT.

      • dhr2018

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        I am from the much-vaunted (by American WinMo fanatics) region where that OS used to be popular. To be precise, the low-end and low-to-mid-level WM/WP devices used to be popular, among ppl who now prefer Androids of similar category (for example by Chinese OEMs).

        It was because back then, cheap Androids were more or less unusable without tweaking (I am talking about 512 MB RAM phones, for example). These WinMo devices used to be called "the poor person's iPhone".

        For me it is evident, that by selling Lumia 435s, 520s, and 640s by the metric ton, you are not going to build a profitable ecosystem on the long run. First, because the ppl buying those are not going to spend much on apps and content, and second, because part of that app and content ecosystem wasn't even there for European users (Groove, Movies and TV, and so on)

        For me, Microsoft is practically Windows, Office365, Onedrive, and therefore I never cared nor I care now about Windows Phone/Mobile, but want to make it clear that having a certain marketshare in the low end somewhere does not necessarily mean business viability.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to JimP:

      Making Nadella CEO? Not a mistake. He's gotten the company back on track to profitability. And it's a company that has so far been dedicated to not just their future, but to pushing forward the state of their legacy desktop OS. He screwed up royally in killing their mobile line, sure.

      That's a big mistake, but it's just one mistake.

      I mean, it's not like leaving your high-profit prosumer/professional desktop computer line without updates for 3+ years.

      Oh wait, that's Tim Cook.

      • Greg Green

        In reply to jimchamplin:

        It’s interesting because both companies seemed to fall for the PC is dead myth. MS seemed to abandon desktop users with Win8, mismarketed Win 8.1, and MS hasn’t won desktop users back with Win 10 yet.

        Apple, if they were more imaginative and aware could’ve capitalized by making mid price desktops that just worked to pull in dissatisfied desktop users. Instead they too fell for the myth and put all their innovation into mobile while giving almost no thought to desktops.

        To MS’ credit they did seem to see their mistake before Apple saw either MS’ mistake or their own mistake.

      • GT Tecolotecreek

        In reply to jimchamplin: I mean, it's not like leaving your high-profit prosumer/professional desktop computer line without updates for 3+ years. Oh wait, that's Tim Cook.

        Actually the trash can Power Mac is Job's legacy, Cook just got stuck trying to figure out what to do with it.

      • JimP

        In reply to jimchamplin:

        Windows Phone isn't the only mistake. They also complete blew the smart watch/fitness band market. As for gaming, XBox is now a distant second to the PS4 and possibly a distant third to the Nintendo Switch when all is said and done. They appear to be blowing the voice assistant market; Edge hasn't taken off, Groove Music is a failure...need I go on?

        The only thing that I can think of in the consumer space that Microsoft has been successful is Windows 10 (although Windows continues to lose marketshare) and the Surface line of devices (which was started in the Balmer era).

        TypeScript and Visual Studio Code is doing well with developers. I guess that's a positive, but software developers are niche group.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to JimP:

          Re Band, haven't there been lots of stories about how quickly their straps failed? I figure MSFT had priced them aggressively to enter the market, so they became money losers on the second strap replacement.

          MSFT can't match Apple selling high margin devices. MSFT really doesn't want to be in high volume-low margin business lines.

          Re Edge, I figure most PC users use multiple Windows versions between multiple home PCs and work PCs, and most of them prefer using the same browser across all of those PCs. Since Edge only runs under Windows 10, that same browser across all PCs ain't gonna be Edge. I figure it'll take years for Edge to reach IE's current user share (if it ever does).

  5. PurpleDisciple

    I thought it was a very "I've bought wholly into the Nadella thing" approach as I heard the dude talk about it on the podcast.

    Maintaining legacy and continuity is difficult, and that (aside from the marketing) is a big part of why Apple has succeeded in recent years while Microsoft has blundered from one do-over to another. Where they introduce new tech, they make sure it complements what they have already. And where they introduce updates to existing tech, they put consumers at rest by demonstrating commitment to an ongoing and consistent product strategy.

    Caposella's line of "we can't be afraid to fail" is all very well, but it doesn't make anyone but early adopters buy their stuff...

    ...who then end up pissed off for a variety of reasons, not just a complete lack of strategy but with the Surface line, a complete lack of QA - and not doing what Apple early adopters do, which is to hype it up.

    And even this early adopter's learned his lesson now.