You don’t like what Microsoft is doing. What should they do instead?

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Every day on this site I see dozens of comments from people who are aghast at the direction Microsoft is going (e.g. UWP, Windows Store, W10S, etc,). Can you please explain in detail what exactly you think Microsoft should do instead?

Who should Microsoft focus on? How big is that segment or segments? Are those segments growing or shrinking, and at what rate?

What should Microsoft offer them? What needs is Microsoft satisfying, and who else is competing to meet those needs?

How should Microsoft monetize its efforts? What is wrong with their current monetization efforts, and how does your suggestion improve upon it?

Based on your suggestions what does success look like for Microsoft in 5 years or 10 years? Based on what you think they should do, will they be larger, smaller or about the same size? Will they be more or less profitable?

What obstacles are there internally and externally that Microsoft would have to overcome in order to enact your plan? How do they overcome those and “sell” this plan to employees and shareholders?

Comments (78)

78 responses to “You don’t like what Microsoft is doing. What should they do instead?”

  1. karlinhigh

    Wow, that's a lot of questions!

    In summary, I think Microsoft needs to decide if they want their products to be like international standards, or current fashions.

    International standards do not change easily. Consider highway signs and signals - we don't want people trying to figure out which color traffic light means STOP this year.

    In contrast, current fashions MUST change, or no one can tell that they are current. Many modern cultures confer status on those who keep up with the latest and greatest designs as ends in themselves.

    Microsoft (and Apple and Google and Facebook and everyone else) probably want to be "international standard current fashions," where everyone, everywhere puts any amount of effort into following any changes their technology providers make, even on whims that will be reversed within 6 months. But sadly for that desire, this is not practical for many people and organizations.

    I recall seeing a comment somewhere about the notion that Microsoft's customers don't care about the products they use, and Apple's customers do care. Actually, Microsoft's customers care about the products so much, it approaches the level of public utilities or even bodily vital functions - it's a bad day if we have to think about these things. We want them to "just work" so we can get on with life.

    I have no idea what Microsoft's strategy should be today. I just doubt that anything good will come of "re-imagining" foundational aspects of core products every few years, and then disparaging anyone who doesn't follow their lead.

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to karlinhigh:

      Yeah, I guess it was a lot of questions. I'd just like people to more fully think through their complaints and criticisms about the direction Microsoft is going. I'd like to see more constructive criticism.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to Chris_Kez:

        Logically it's possible there could be no constructive criticism. It may be possible the only good option is shutting down the Windows Store as soon as possible. I'm not arguing that's actually so, just that it's a possibility which can't be glibly dismissed.

        • Chris_Kez

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          It's possible to have a constructive critique that ends with a recommendation to shut down the Windows Store. What would make it constructive would be the inclusion of a clear rationale about why Microsoft should do that, along with specific recommendations about what they should be doing instead.

          • hrlngrv

            In reply to Chris_Kez:

            In PC consumer space, there may be nothing MSFT could do to improve their position. Since MSFT hasn't been adding much to Win32 since it came out with the WinRT API for Windows 8, there's little or nothing ISVs could add to Win32 software. Maybe someone could have brand new ideas for new types of applications, but that type of innovation has slowed down considerably. As for apps popular on phones, those may be better handled through browsers on PCs rather than just running phone apps on PCs.

            As for greater security, Chrome OS in standard rather than developer mode mounts its root partition read-only, its /var and /home partitions read-write but noexec. Perhaps Windows could benefit from a similar architecture, but it'd require a substantial rewrite. Cynical me, I figure the answer what MSFT could do is obvious but the cost-benefit trade-off leaves MSFT preferring to view users as malware detectors.

  2. Supatra

    There is still incredible power in the Win32 eco-system. It's the one thing that keeps Windows afloat. Without Win32 there would be no reason for Windows to exist. So Microsoft should harness this power and make it easy for users to install the most wanted Windows programs. Let's say a Store with the Top-1000 Win32-programs. Hunting for EXE-files on the net is so Windows 95. Gamestop is sitting on a powerful Win32 application called Impulse that can install, update and remove Win32 applications just as painless as Windows Store. This would be such a powerful tool if it was integrated in Windows. It's like Microsoft forgot what made Windows the biggest platform.

  3. wiparat01


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  4. mariusmuntensky

    First of all they should fire Nadella. Ever since he came, quality has gone from good to below mediocre. They no longer respect the customers, they lie all the time and their commitment to delivery is a total crap. From customer support staff to everything else, MS has nothing to offer but pathetic quality and lies. Using insiders to test their OS instead of dedicated testers, is another proof of poor leadership and total lack of knowledge. They care only about their pockets. I will never use and recommend any MS products to anyone ever again. Besides xbox, everything else they have is crap!

  5. longhorn

    Offering something like Enterprise LTSB for consumers (outside volume licensing) would benefit people who think feature-updates are unnecessary and pose a risk to their "production-machine". Also people with limited bandwidth and storage would benefit. Going back to stable releases with 10+ years support would please those of us who use Windows as a base-layer to run software, but don't care about features. WaaS has divided users in two camps. Those who don't like it stay on Windows 7/8.1.

  6. MutualCore

    Can we quit the idea that Panos Panay is a genius hardware designer? After the iFixit review gave 0/10 on Surface Laptop being a 'glue filled monstrosity', it seems there is no actual genius involved, just HACKERY.

  7. JimP

    This is easy. MS never should have abandoned Windows Phone or dropping the Band.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to JimP:

      MSFT should have kept on losing money to show the world how much money it had to lose?

      No matter how much MSFT fans may still want Windows phones to succeed, the phone would likely never be profitable for MSFT. How much money do you believe MSFT should be prepared to lose on phones? Or are you someone who believes MSFT would have no future if it became just a B2B company?

      • JimP

        In reply to hrlngrv:


        Microsoft lost billions on Bing for many years before it turned a profit.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to JimP:

          . . . turned a profit

          The operative phrase. I'm sure MSFT had it's own milestones Bing had to achieve in order for MSFT to keep investing in it. Also, MSFT built it into many MSFT services. Plus it became the second most used search engine outside China fairly quickly. Was it ever going to pass Google? No. Could it cement itself in 2nd place? Good chances, and it came to be.

          Windows phones, OTOH, probably missed most of MSFT's internal milestones for what sort of market and user shares were needed to sustain investment. I figure there were NO projections showing Lumia Windows phones would ever make money, and Windows Phone/Mobile were a distant #3. Would some MSFT presence in phones have helped MSFT's other business ventures? Maybe, but I figure MSFT determined that those pluses didn't offset the money MSFT would lose.

          I really don't believe MSFT management is either stupid or timid. During Ballmer's reign, it may not have been as cold-bloodedly objective as would have been ideal. However, I figure Bing did well enough, Windows phones didn't. Hard to accept for Windows phone fans, but MSFT is in business to make money for its shareholders, not to make the fans happy.

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to JimP:

      I loved both of these products, but what should MS have done to keep them going in a smart way that actually contributed?

      It seems that WP was at a strategic dead-end with Microsoft looking to push forward with Windows on ARM. They were losing money on phones and there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. What specifically could they have in 2016 and 2017 to turn that around?

      I think a stronger case could be made for Band. Though the software was a dead end I have to wonder if they couldn't have pressed on for another year and tried to develop some version of W10 IoT in parallel to transition to. On the hardware side it seemed like they had some serious manufacturing and quality control issues. Replacing all of the Bands with broken straps must have been costly. But still, that seems like the kind of thing you get right eventually. I really think they had a good product and feature set that hit the right mix of fitness and notifications, and it was cross-platform. I have to think they'll be back in this space.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to Chris_Kez:

        . . . the kind of thing you get right eventually . . .

        In one's CORE BUSINESS, sure. In a sideline with no chance whatsoever of ever reaching 0.1% of MSFT's consolidated net income, it either does well quickly or gets killed quickly.

        • Chris_Kez

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          Fair. Though they did get into the wearables market likely knowing that it would never reach 0.1% of their net income. I think they (and a lot of other companies) had unrealistic hopes for wearables to begin with, and the rush was premature. The category is just starting to figure itself out, and unlike Jawbone or Misfit or other fitness band companies not named Apple, Microsoft could afford to wait for things to gel a bit more. They could have leveraged the Band to push more Cortana and W10 cross-platform stuff. I hope they give it another go in 2018 or 2019 once they figure out Windows on ARM and their whole "Windows on mobile devices" strategy, as well as what to do with W10 IoT.

          • hrlngrv

            In reply to Chris_Kez:

            I think MSFT has ranges. Above the high end of a range, MSFT definitely keeps investing. Below the bottom end of a range, MSFT kills it off. Within the range, lots and lots of second guessing. Anyway, I figure the problems with the Band's straps dropped it below the bottom end of its range.

      • JimP

        In reply to Chris_Kez:


        I don't recall the exact time frame, but somewhere around Windows 8.1, they had a working strategy. They were advertising it on TV (remember the Jessica Alba commercial, for example) and had ported the top 50 iPhone apps to Windows Phone. Market share for Windows Phone was going up - albeit, slowly - but the numbers were heading in the right direction.


        So, what should Microsoft have done? They should have continued this strategy. They should have continued the advertising campaign and ported the next top 50 iOS apps to Windows Phone.


        Who knows? Maybe Windows Phone would be at 10 or 15% by now.



    • oao

      Actually there was a way for MS to gain from Windows Phone, but not directly: given that Android was free, MS should have made WP free too. They would not have profited from it, but would have enabled the Win ecosystem to compete--which is precisely what they claimed their objective was. But as a monopolist, the idea of giving something away was too anathema and they screwed themselves.


      Monopolists are arrogant and dk how to compete and ultimately they lose.


      • hrlngrv

        In reply to oao:

        MSFT essentially gave Windows Phone to Nokia for free. Thoroughly incompetently done, because it ensured that no other competently managed (thus excepting HTC) phone maker would bother with Windows Phone free or otherwise.

        Monopolists know how to compete. Gates sure did. CRUSH THE COMPETITION, or in Gates's own words, cut off their air supply. The problem with Windows phone were 2-fold. 1) MSFT believed it could leverage PC users to succeed with phones, so foisted a phone UI on Windows 8. 2) MSFT benefited in no small way from the incompetence of its competition in the 1990s in software. Google and Apple are less accommodating than Lotus Development Corp, Borland International and WordPerfect.

    • dave0

      In reply to JimP:


      100% agree. They made a great mobile platform. The mobile phone is the most important consumer computing platform today and will continue to be for years to come. Why they kept the XBOX, but abandoned phone is puzzling to me.

  8. John Scott

    First off Microsoft should mean what it says and say what it means. That would instill trust for users who have seen Microsoft flip flop on things. We went from what was supposed to be less versions of Win 10 to a whole bunch of different types again. Apparently Microsoft has a split personality approach to decisions. This is where reinventing the wheel or in this case Windows as a service was completely mucked up. Nobody but Microsoft wanted it, and nobody see's Microsoft as handling it well. Then you have a complete mess of versions, with more like Win 10S added to the confusion. This was supposed to be a more straight forward last Windows. So Microsoft should go back to what users know, a Home/small business version and a enterprise/pro version. Skip the 10S BS and get back to providing a OS that is a real Windows OS. Let the user decide what programs and apps they want to run, not the OS developer. Oh and stop charging for Windows 10, nobody gives any value to a OS anymore. Its over Microsoft, Windows has no value because every six months you get a softpack like update. You see how very little people are willing to pay for any of this. Adoption stopped once the free period ended. Nobody thinks Windows 10 is worth anything.

  9. JustMe

    Wow, thats a loaded question....


    For me, Microsoft has entirely too much emphasis on new features. One of my personal pet peeves with Windows 10 is the "all or nothing" updates. If I strip my install down to 'bare bones' because it works for my needs, why cant I just pick up security updates? I understand that there are users that either need or want the newest features. What Microsoft forgets is that there is another group that just wants the OS to function. I know what I need, I dont need Microsoft to tell me they think they know what I need and try to forcefeed it to me. Let us, the users, decide which applications we want to run and have installed.


    Also, there are some users that, for business or personal reasons, cannot use the cloud. If you can save a document/file to the cloud, you can save it locally. I dont care that you allow cloud saves - just let me save my work locally.

    • Roger Ramjet

      In reply to JustMe:

      Do Apple and Google allow you to choose updates you want and don't want with their OS updates? Such an approach cant work in reality because it would require vast and vast amounts of resources to support. I guess the solution would be to remain on the prior versions for some of these objections, and there are millions and million who do so, and that's OK.

      • JustMe

        In reply to Roger Ramjet:

        Honest answer - I dont use OS's by Apple or Google for my desktop or laptop, so what they do doesnt directly affect me. The closest I get is my IPhone and my wife's IPad. I consider those different beasts to be run by a different paradigm than my desktop. And as you rightly point out, I can stay on my current version until my hardware quits - more on that below.


        My biggest problem is that I have finally tamed Windows 8.1 to the point where I actually like it. But if I want to upgrade to newer hardware (Kaby Lake or later), if I am going to run Windows, I am forced to run a flavor of Windows 10. I dont WANT to switch. W10 offers me only a little more than nothing, and I end up spending an inordinate amount of time shutting off or uininstalling features I dont want or need. If Microsoft feels the need to force-feed me security updates, I can likely live with it. Force-feeding feature updates is completely uneccesary.


        Prior to Windows 10, I could decide if I wanted to pick up just security updates or I wanted to update features/quality. A hallmark of Windows Past was that you had a choice. You dont have that now, apart from running older hardware that will run an earlier version of the OS. Microsoft's own heavy-handedness (i.e. their 'you will do it our way and like it' mentality) has made me explore other options.

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to JustMe:

      That's a fair request; but how does that translate into a direction that is also a "win" (i.e. profitable) for Microsoft?

      • JustMe

        In reply to Chris_Kez:


        If its me, I make a very simple argument that Microsoft could put together an add-on or new SKU that completely removed advertising, allowed you to choose whether you wanted just security updates or feature/quality updates, allowed you to uninstall virtually everything, and disable telemetry. You could sell it at a premium, and I suspect there would be a user community that would pay for it. It obviously wouldnt be for everybody, but for enthusiasts and power-users, it would be gold.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to Chris_Kez:

        . . . also a "win" ... for Microsoft?

        That could be asking too much. It may also be necessary to consider what could mitigate MSFT's losses in consumer space.

  10. John Scott

    I think a operating system should be just that and nothing else. To be the engine to drive the software. Today Microsoft bundles way too much stuff onto Windows and really many users don't need that. Its fine to offer this stuff in a store setting and download it if you need it. The big stickler is privacy, its one thing to have some analytical data from crashes, performance issues, and allow Microsoft to learn from that. Its another to use the OS as a marketing tool and it crosses the line as to how this benefits the end user. If I was at the Microsoft app store looking for something, I can see making suggestions. But clearly if all I am doing is using Chrome or something other than Edge or Office. I don't need prodding ads to get me to try those products. Respect I choose your OS but not all of your products. Its why Win 10S will fail, and why Chromebooks only succeed in classrooms. Because in the "real" world we want choices, not walled gardens.

  11. hrlngrv

    The Windows Store is just going to piss off PC users because it's so radical a departure from software distribution channels for PCs for the previous 4 decades or so. Thus, #1: if Windows phones are unlikely to sell in tens of millions of units annually by 2020, time to SCRAP the Windows Store.

    Maybe UWP is the future, but that doesn't actually require the Windows Store. Replace the Windows Store with a secured digital signature repository and confirmation service. Developers who want to register apps with it would need to pay fees to do so, but after that they can distribute their signed software however they want.

    Yes, this means killing off the dreams of US$ billions in annual Windows Store revenues, BUT THAT JUST AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN ANYWAY, so MSFT should cut its losses sooner rather than later.

    MSFT has no hope of monetizing its efforts in 3rd party software distribution because Windows 7 and all other Windows versions in use already have thriving distribution channels which don't involve MSFT extracting $0.01 from those channels. That is, the status quo ante Windows Store worked just fine for ISVs. What does the Windows Store provide ISVs which they didn't have already? There could be some benefit to the Windows Store, but would those benefits be worth 30% of gross sales for most ISVs?

    A question back: are UWP and the Windows Store the ONLY possible way to secure Windows?

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      Across several posts here I think you've made a good case for why ISVs look at the Windows Store and say "no thanks". But if Microsoft takes your suggestion and gives up hope of monetizing through the Store, then what should they do? They're looking down the barrel of declining PC sales and thus declining licensing fees. Do they cut back investment on Windows development and just focus on tuning it for power users?

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to Chris_Kez:

        MSFT can go on trying to monetize ISVs Windows software, but ISVs don't have to cooperate. Also, MSFT's Windows licensing revenues from its enterprise customers aren't disappearing, and as long as some people believe they need to capability of working from home, there'll also be some Windows licenses from home users. However, those revenues aren't growing.

        OTOH, MSFT does have other growing product lines. Perhaps MSFT's efforts and resources would be better spent on them than on trying (and likely failing) to monetize all or most consumer PC software sales.

        Just as MSFT isn't going to make ANY money licensing phone OSes, it may also not make any appreciable money off 3rd party software sales. Sometimes MSFT loses no matter how earnestly MSFT and its fans would prefer otherwise. More often than not, if you're going to lose eventually, it's better to cut your losses sooner rather than later.

        • Chris_Kez

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          Is there a scenario in which the Windows Store could be a win for both Microsoft and ISVs? Could Microsoft lower the rate to 20% or 15% or 10%? Could ISVs charge slightly higher rates for their products when downloaded through the store, so that the customer essentially pays for the benefit of having a single source of updates, known good software and a clean and easy install/uninstall? Could an ISV make a few new customers as a result of being featured in the store for a few days or weeks, and have those increased sales offset Microsoft's cut? What would the rate have to be to offset that?

          • jimchamplin

            In reply to Chris_Kez:

            I’d gladly pay an extra 5-10% for the peace of mind.

          • hrlngrv

            In reply to Chris_Kez:

            Re painless install/uninstall, try https://portableapps.com/apps/internet/google_chrome_portable. Then imagine putting that in an App-V container without futzing with the Windows Store. The Windows Store is unnecessary for secure, reliable desktop software. The only possible thing the Windows Store offers is a single place to browse software titles, but is that worth 30% to ISVs? If not, how long will it take MSFT to accept a lower %? My money would be on never, in the sense that MSFT would sooner scrap the Windows Store than admit it's worth less than Apple or Google. MSFT still has a wee problem with hubris.

            • skane2600

              In reply to hrlngrv:

              Portable apps are definitely handy but I think the heartburn over installs, uninstalls, and leftover files due to poorly written install scripts, is mostly a techie concern. The average user doesn't know anything about the registry and doesn't go looking for trouble. Usually multi-step installs serve the purpose of setting some initial properties of the program that otherwise the user would have to go hunting for in menus. The simple approach used by UWP is one-size-fits-all process which perhaps is appropriate give the simplicity of most apps available in the store.

      • mariusmuntensky

        In reply to Chris_Kez:

        Microsoft doesn't seem to understand the importance of the mobile market: smartphones, pocket devices with mobile APPS!! Not continuum, win10 on ARM crap! They have failed and retrenched from this area and this will be their doom! Devs do not give a damn about their desktop windows store, no matter what fanboys will say, the facts are real and here!

        Nobody cares about the next big thing 10 years from now, we live in the present: today, they have failed miserably until today and seem to continue to do so.

        Their business only vision is totally wrong! Business users and consumers are 99% the same thing, but MS continues to fail to see this.

        Their quality has dropped massively in Nadella's obsession to cut costs. He fired tons of experienced engineers and testers, only to remain with interns and insiders/free guinea pigs to test their products. They think we are stupid and that we will bite the same hand covered in **** over and over again.Well, they are wrong, soooo wrong!

      • skane2600

        In reply to Chris_Kez:

        We should all be so lucky to be making the kind of money MS is making despite declining PC sales. If the decline continues they will have to become a little leaner, but there's still a lot of profit potential there.


        Spending tons of money on dubious initiatives as they have done in recent years isn't helpful. Engineers love to develop new stuff and CEOs love to show they're earning their keep by releasing new products, but sometimes staying the course is the optimal approach.


        I would like to see MS restore Win32 as a first class part of Windows, matching any advances the UWP environment has been given to the extent that it doesn't compromise compatibility.

        • Chris_Kez

          In reply to skane2600:

          Fair points about engineers and CEO's. So what kind of updates/advances could they bring to Win32? If they focused their next big update on revving Win32 might that re-energize desktop development?

          • skane2600

            In reply to Chris_Kez:
            If MS could provide hooks to allow more graceful handling of hi DPI displays and automatic scaling that would be useful. I don't know if there are technical reasons why this would be difficult to add to Win32 and still be backwards compatible.
            The challenge with re-energizing desktop development is that it's so saturated with applications already. What categories of applications that have a broad appeal are left to create? They'll probably always be internal business programs being developed but we'll never hear of them.
            Windows Phone had it succeeded would have provided a new area for application growth, but it didn't happen. I think MS was late to the party, but they also didn't really pull out all the stops to promote it. IMO, coupling it to the desktop OS through Windows 8 was a mistake too. Better to make it the best mobile OS they could without making the design more complicated by sharing common elements with the desktop.
            • hrlngrv

              In reply to skane2600:

              FWIW, Qt handles high DPI screens fairly well, so that's one 3rd party developer who's managed it for multiple OSes. I figure MSFT should be able to handle it just for Windows and Win32. That is, if MSFT wanted to.

              Re promoting Windows Phone 7, do you recall the first ad campaign? The ones which had Windows Phone 7 phone users looking at people obsessing over other types of smartphones and asking 'Seriously?' ? Quite possibly the most condescending ad campaign ever, and an ad campaign which implied Windows phones were for people who wanted to use their smartphones as little as possible. MSFT sabotaged the Windows phone right out of the gate. MSFT well & truly deserves its place in mobile.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      i refute: only a centralized repository can guarantee that the software bearing the signature is actually secure. The vetting process is designed to find fraudulent and malicious applications.

      The idea that the average person cares where their software comes from is not only incorrect but incredibly quaint. They don’t care. So, if MS would put any effort whatsoever into advertising the Store, people would definitely use it, as the case is being made thatbits safer for them. Normals are boggled by this stuff for some reason, so when they learn that Windows has a store just like their easy to use phone... well...

      You know what they say... c’est la vie!

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to jimchamplin:

        Last reply apparently lost by the comment system.

        I'd want to see a few peer-reviewed academic papers asserting that security could only come from a single repository before I consider that may be so. I also find it more than a little amusing to consider such an assertion against the loss of business reputation medium to large ISVs would suffer if they distributed fraudulent or malicious code. The premise that only MSFT cares about security is ridiculous.

        Yes, average users may not care where their software comes from, but ISVs do. As for MSFT advertising the Windows Store, would that do any good rather than further harm if MSFT did so before there were a lot more software titles in the Windows Store? MSFT advertising the Windows Store isn't a panacea for its chicken-and-egg problem.

  12. Jules Wombat

    I think Satya has this worked out, and is doing reasonably well against Google and Amazon as his main competitors. Too many Fanboys here are complaining about consumer centric devices. Mirosoft has lost that market, and its not coming back. He is concentrating on what keeps Microsoft relevant which is Cloud and Enterprise now, and Cloud Intelligence based services in the future.

    So Microsoft should double down their focus upon Search and Machine learning to support Intelligent Cloud services to end users. Which is basically what they are attempting to do, with Google and Amazon as their biggest threats. They need to develop a compelling intelligent API platform. Cortana development has been way too slow to catch up with Alexa and Google Now services. The future will be a battle of the AI Platforms (Google vs Alexa vs Cortana ?) Noting that Siri is basically Microsoft Bing.

    We have to accept that they have Lost the mobile (Tablet and Phone) Client platforms and only have legacy Desktop. So they have to focus upon maintaining their Enterprise Cloud, Business Services and Business Infrastructure and Productivity Applications. Which is essentially what they are doing. There really isn't much point to the Windows Store, if everyone then complains they can't get "Full Windows"

    As a developer it has been really dissapointing that thy have zig zagged so much on their Platforms and API. We have seen them lose confidence in their developer direction for what was once a great developer company. They had us fully engagd and porductive for their platforms with .NET, but have confused us since with all the miss directions since the infamous Build 2011. We can at least appreciate that they are now supporting wider platform choices and Open Source support as being their only way ahead now. They can regain the developers with developing some really great compelling AI [Cortana] services, to deliver great end user Cortana+ experiences through mobile (iOS, Android), automotive (Android), cheap set Top Boxes (Xbox way too heavyweight), Home (Cortana) and IoT devices. But they need to give some clear direction that they will stick to the platform. An no its need to be much more compelling than the rather weak Bots Framework.

    Microsoft don't really need to be in hardware. Developing Surface devices is OK, but they are only acting as a demonstrator for their legacy desktop Windows Platform. Xbox and HoloLens are just sideshows to the main event of delivering intelligent services.


  13. TheJoeFin

    Microsoft needs to focus on their users and consider how they use all of Microsoft products together or not and why not.

    This means understanding how users work with a single Microsoft product across devices and sessions and how they use different products on a single device session. Too many times Microsoft makes a nice desktop UI that keeps launching a web browser to view or share a file even when it is saved locally. It seems like Microsoft makes each product in a silo and doesn't understand that users use dozens of different Microsoft products a day and all the little obnoxious loading times and context switching gets exhausting and is a determent to productivity.

  14. rameshthanikodi

    I feel like i'm the only one these days, but I think Microsoft is doing just fine these days. I think at one point the biggest problem with Microsoft was that everything they did had to be centered around Windows. It was a really destructive culture that i'm glad is no longer there. Even Azure was called Windows Azure, which just sounds stupid if you think about how important it has become today. I would even argue that Windows Phone should have been just called ZuneOS or something, because back then Windows Phone had nothing in common with Windows 7 except for the name.

    I'm also glad that Microsoft has embraced Linux and other competing platforms more, recognizing that users of stuff like Office and iPads tend not to be mutually exclusive, so they brought Office to the iPad. The problem is, of course, people rely on Google services as well, and Google doesn't seem to want to bring their stuff into Office, not even Google Drive integration.

    I think the biggest surprises from Microsoft these days is how much of an impact they're making with hardware. I mean, they made a laptop and a AIO pc, which usually would be boring, but the Surface team has found their own beat, tying in their objectives with Windows (inking, touch, high DPI, performance, biometrics, battery life). It all really started with the Surface Pro, but I think it was the Surface Pro 3 that really lit a fire among PC OEMs. Today we get great choices for PC hardware - the same thing Apple has been taking heat for not providing.

    In the future, I think Microsoft needs to move aggressively into stuff like ambient computing and into the car. I also think Windows is going to become less profitable as iOS and Android continue to make inroads on PC form factors, so perhaps they might decide to start selling Windows at much lower prices just for the sake of maintaining market share. The real deal though, is monetizing Windows through the Store. Microsoft needs to get devs to sell their apps in the Store, and offer the best economics for developers that do so. Many professional apps cost a bomb and come with ridiculous licensing restrictions. There is a need for a more elegant solution, and that is where I think they should position the Windows Store. Having the Store manage purchases, licenses and updates is really the best of both worlds. So I hope more devs put their paid apps in the Store. Besides, i'm more likely to trust transacting in the Store rather than some shady website. If they get to this point, Microsoft would be successful in transitioning a big part of the company that is stuck in the past, into a newer and more competitive business model. Shareholders would definitely eat it all up.

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to rameshthanikodi:

      I agree that the Windows Store can and should be a positive for Microsoft, developers and consumers. The pieces aren't quite in place yet, but it's possible that it could come together. They need to keep pushing Windows 10 hard and get as many people off of 7 as quickly as possible. At the same time they need to get more creative with how they monetize the store. A flat 30% cut is too much for many developers. Offer them different kinds of rates and schedules based on price, volume, update schedule, the app's monetization strategy (e.g. subscription, in app purchase, etc.). The Store also needs to just work better at search, curation, discovery. And of course they need to keep making UWP itself more powerful.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to Chris_Kez:

        For ISVs, what's the benefit of the Windows Store?

        Note: if the benefit is obvious, then damn near all Windows ISVs are irrational or run by morons. If ISVs are staffed by clever, rational people, there's obviously something wrong with the Windows Store, and it's unlikely the 30% cut of gross sales MSFT takes is the only thing wrong.

        You can't equate the Windows Store with Google and Apple stores because the latter were born and grew with Android phones and iPhones, respectively, and there were no software distribution channels for Android or iOS before them. With Windows phone now effectively DEAD, the Windows Store doesn't exist primarily for phones. PCs users would have to be the main customers. Unfortunately for MSFT and the Windows Store there are preexisting software distribution channels for PCs which are several times older and better established than the Windows Store.

        • VancouverNinja

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          How much do developers get on iOS and Android for their apps? What does Apple and Google charge them for their apps through their respective stores?

          • hrlngrv

            In reply to VancouverNinja:

            Don't know, don't care, as no software for Windows PCs would be forthcoming through Google or Apple app stores. Google and Apple app stores are irrelevant to Windows PCs.

            The decision for Windows PC ISVs is Windows Store vs anything & everything else used to date. In the Windows Store case, ISVs have to let MSFT take a cut of gross sales. OTOH, if ISVs sell their own software from their own web sites, MSFT gets US$ ZERO. Which do you believe would be more appealing to most ISVs?

  15. Winner

    They need to quit using their customers as a way to force their own success. Their disdain for customers is what is driving people off:

    • Deception on the Win 10 upgrade, forced upgrades
    • "They're not adopting UWP/store/Edge fast enough, so let's put out a version of Windows that forces UWP, store, and Edge"
    • Dropping support for new processors in Win 7 - somebody found code that checks the processor and disables Win7 if the processor is new - NOT a technical reason but a false marketing limitation to get people to upgrade
    • Attacking Google (scroogled) while trying to be more like them (Bing, Ads in OS)
    • Etc.
    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to Winner:

      Yep, and you've only hit a few of the highlights (or low-lights) of the ways that Microsoft has upset users. But sticking to the theme of the thread, what should they have done? What happens if they never push Windows 10 and just rely on the natural adoption cycle in a declining PC market? Does it take five years to reach critical mass? Seven years? Ten years? What do they do in the interim? Can the UWP/Store vision live long enough? If not, then what's the alternative to UWP/Store? What should their strategy for Windows be? How do they fend off Google and Amazon? As they look around and see millions and millions of people seemingly happy with (and sometimes preferring) the relative simplicity of iOS and Chrome OS and Android how do they respond? Do they just say that their penetration of the consumer market was a happy accident, a confluence of circumstances, and give up on maintaining any kind of relevance or competition for these people? Do they retreat to the enterprise and to power users? And what happens when enterprise customers say they're looking at Chrome OS and at G Suite because these systems are simpler to use and easier to maintain?

      • Tony Barrett

        In reply to Chris_Kez:

        Your sort of like defending Microsoft's actions, and implying that what they're actually doing is for their own benefit and not the customer (which it is actually). Microsoft made this mess for themselves, saw the problems too late, then acted in a knee jerk reaction which is now forcing them to try and haul over 1B Windows users to a place *Microsoft* want's (needs) them at, whether they want to or not. To compete with the Google's/Amazon's/Facebooks of this world, MS needed a search presence, they needed user data to compete with ads, they needed an app store as a revenue stream, and they needed it quick - very quick. Hence Win10 - enforced use of Bing ( and it's data collection), hard push of Cortana and Edge (and their data collection). The list goes on, and all this is wrapped is a candy coating made to look enticing with a billion features nobody asked for.

        • Chris_Kez

          In reply to ghostrider:

          I think you wrote it in reverse, "implying that what they're actually doing is for their own benefit and not the customer (which it is actually)" but I totally get what you're saying.

          Yeah, I think Microsoft is doing this mostly for their benefit and a little for consumer benefit (and it just so happens that any consumer benefit also benefits Microsoft).

          As far as "defending" their actions, in some ways I am simply playing devil's advocate and prosecuting Microsoft's argument as they see it. What I'm looking for are well-reasoned critiques that lay out an alternative strategy that Microsoft should pursue instead.

      • longhorn

        In reply to Chris_Kez:


        There is still incredible power in the Win32 eco-system. It's the one thing that keeps Windows afloat. Without Win32 there would be no reason for Windows to exist. So Microsoft should harness this power and make it easy for users to install the most wanted Windows programs. Let's say a Store with the Top-1000 Win32-programs. Hunting for EXE-files on the net is so Windows 95. Gamestop is sitting on a powerful Win32 application called Impulse that can install, update and remove Win32 applications just as painless as Windows Store. This would be such a powerful tool if it was integrated in Windows. It's like Microsoft forgot what made Windows the biggest platform.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to longhorn:

          Be blunter.

          Win32 is far & away the most popular and lucrative software platform created to date, and lucrative by several orders of magnitude compared to all alternatives.

          MSFT believing it could just trot out UWP and get most developers to transition to it quickly was almost as daft as the original Windows 8. In part because there are still more than 2 times as many Windows PC users using older Windows versions which can't run UWP apps. Unfortunately for MSFT, 3rd party developers aren't as gullible as MSFT would prefer they were.

          • Jules Wombat

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            The problem I that Win32, is also Windows greatest weakness. Too complicated, significant security risk, and hassle to maintain. Most users, including businesses want simpler, more secure, less admin managed OSs, and so given the choice will avoid Windows.

            • hrlngrv

              In reply to Jules Wombat:

              What is a less admin managed OS? Return to Windows 95? Or something completely locked down which can't be expanded at all? It's got to be one of those two directions, and I doubt either would make admins' lives easier.

              That said, for the workplace I believe software running on servers with their I/O fed to remote devices (call those devices terminals for convenience) would be the simplest trade-off between security and simplicity. The terminals could run any OS with an app to connect to the remote application servers. A browser and some light weight offline apps on the terminal would be nice too. Gee, that describes a Chromebook with the Citrix Receiver app. Also Windows 10 S machines. However, Chrome OS itself is more secure than Windows 10 S (see the ZDNet article on putting ransomware on Windows 10 S).

            • skane2600

              In reply to Jules Wombat:

              Except that businesses aren't avoiding Windows, obviously. Chromebooks support of subset of what Windows can do. Within that subset of applications what do you maintain is less complicated to do on a Chromebook than on Windows?

              • Chris_Kez

                In reply to skane2600:

                I think the key phrase is "given the choice". Many businesses don't really have a choice right now. They have existing software or services or processes that require Windows. We have people at work asking for Chromebooks because they feel like it is simpler, easier to deal with and requires less IT support.

                Do you not agree that there is a general trend towards simpler, more easily managed computing? Have people not been complaining for thirty years that PCs are too complicated for average people?

                • Tony Barrett

                  In reply to Chris_Kez:

                  If the apps businesses are using are web based, which Chromebooks will do perfectly well, and when businesses finally start realising they don't actually *need* Windows anymore, Google will start eating Microsoft's breakfast and lunch. Apps are for consumers on mobile devices. Everything else is going web.

                • skane2600

                  In reply to Chris_Kez:

                  People love to complain. They don't understand that capability and simplicity are often in opposition to each other. Even at the time when using a Mac was clearly simpler than using a PC, the former didn't really catch on in a big way.


                  I agree that simple devices have become dominant for doing simple things. Chromebooks are browser-based and if people wish to limit their applications to what is available via a browser, Chrome on Windows will be just as simple.

                • hrlngrv

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  . . . if people wish to limit their applications to what is available via a browser, Chrome on Windows will be just as simple.

                  Thing is with the right connectivity app and large enterprises already using application servers, Chromebook users could run anything & everything which could run under the Windows Server OS. That should be broad enough for more workplace computer users.

                • skane2600

                  In reply to hrlngrv:

                  I make a distinction between the fundamental design approach for a particular device and what can be achieved through augmentation with external equipment. Chromebooks are overkill too if they are used as mere "gateways" to running applications on a server.

            • Chris_Kez

              In reply to Jules Wombat:

              Can we make this a "sticky"? I feel like many people here just completely ignore this general trend among "average" users. Any discussion about what Microsoft should do with Windows needs to address this one way or another.

          • skane2600

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            I would add that MS didn't really need to transition from the "modern" environment of Windows 8/8.1 to the slightly incompatible UWP. They did so for the "purity" of "One Windows" that really is more about bragging rights than it is about offering real value. Although every platform has a common core of Windows APIs every platform is also part of a device family with it's own distinct APIs. So unless a developer avoids using features that are logically aligned with the target platform, it won't work properly on all Windows 10 devices. Developers program to APIs without regard to how those APIs are implemented by the OS.


            The worst fallout of this choice was to throw WP8 users under the bus in order to pretend portability would extend to devices that haven't even been proven to be viable for app sales like XBOX and Hololens.

            • hrlngrv

              In reply to skane2600:

              One Windows is supposed to be impressive?

              Consider all the device types which the Linux kernel handles.

              Bragging rights?

              • skane2600

                In reply to hrlngrv:
                Linux is abstract art to most people. I wasn't bragging about "One Windows" myself anyway. But as is the case with Windows, what counts for users is compatibility of applications across devices. Providing the same APIs across different devices with different kernels provides more value to users than having the same kernel with different APIs.
    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Winner:

      In fairness, S to Pro is a free upgrade for all in 2017, and for certain user types perpetually (that is, until MSFT unilaterally changes its terms). OTOH, fascinating how few articles and news pieces there are on OEM machines with Windows 10 S. Cynical me, I suspect MSFT wants OEMs to pay wholesale Pro license prices for S license kits and is meeting some resistance from OEMs.

  16. Tony Barrett

    MS are attempting to change their entire business model into something that works differently from before. Windows is no longer their main cash cow - it's just a conduit into their subscription services, their app store and advertising. This is their new model to monetize the end user, but to do that, they need everyone and everything running Win10, and that's proving a massive uphill struggle, as they have 30 years of legacy baggage tied to their legs. The methods MS have tried so far have in some ways been dubious, and in others downright deceiving and underhand, but they're continuing with this head on.

    MS have enough cash to try things that can and have failed dismally, but again carry on along the same path (Win10S for example), in the valiant belief something *has to* work in the end. The consumer though, has generally given up on Microsoft - Google, Apple and Amazon are the big players now. Windows desktop revenue will continue to decline, and nobody seems interested in their app store (mainly designed for Microsoft's mobile ambitions, but mostly pointless on the desktop). The app store is portrayed as a secure way to deploy, manage and update apps, but for devs, it's downright hostile and limiting as it has such a small user base and very high costs). MS *are* trying to become the next Apple, but they just don't have the blind loyalty and following Apple do, even if they do try and release 'desirable' kit like Surface, it's out of reach for 95% of people.

    Gotta say though, Nadella's plan is big, bold and ambitious, but the risks are massive, and require billions in capital to follow through with. I'm sure he's promised a lot, but he hasn't really delivered yet. There's a lot of dead MS products lying along this road, and they're not making many friends with the radical changes they keep making. We do need MS in this world, but this MS as it stands just seems to be intent on plowing on down this path, trying to be both Apple and Google at the same time, but not really succeeding at either. They say they listen to their customers, but do they, really?

    • MutualCore

      In reply to Tony Barrett:

      To date the only subscription service(that runs on Windows PC) that has any sizeable # of customers is Office 365. Microsoft has never given #s for paid OneDrive, paid Groove Music, paid Skype, etc...

      So I'm not buying this narrative that Microsoft is hoping to gain huge new revenue from consumer subscription services. They know their bread & butter is - commercial licensing & Azure. After that they hope Surface becomes a multi-billion/year business. Everything else are 'bets'.

  17. Supatra

    Do Apple and Google allow you to choose updates you want and don't want with their OS updates? Such an approach cant work in reality because it would require vast and vast amounts of resources to support. I guess the solution would be to remain on the prior versions for some of these objections, and there are millions and million who do so, and that's OK.


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