As far as its technologies are concerned Microsoft enjoyed a stellar 2012. Sales are another matter.

The software giant rolled out a radical new Windows and two brave new tablets. Microsoft re-positioned Office for the cloud and post-PC computing, then delivered a stunning smartphone operating system.

MIcrosoft’s reboot is impressive, it isn’t enough to solve the company’s problem. It dominates technology’s declining sectors and sits on the fringe in key growth markets.

Microsoft plays catch-up

Microsoft remains miles behind in tablets. It is too early to say how the market will react to Windows 8 devices, yet even the most bullish projection says Apple will dwarf Microsoft’s tablet sales for years.

Apple fears Samsung, not Microsoft.

Smartphones are the same. Nokia’s Lumia 920 is a fabulous phone – the most powerful handheld on the market. Other Windows Phone 8 devices are technically ahead of Apple.

Market share? Bugger all

Yet they command a negligible market share. Here too, Samsung is Apple’s main rival.

Microsoft has plenty of developers on board to keep its devices app store humming, for now. How long will they pour resources into servicing a market sliver?

Microsoft still dominates PCs, but that’s a fast declining segment. As CNet reports, PC sales dropped 21% since the launch of Windows 8.

This means Microsoft’s grip on the enterprise computing market could quickly unravel. As workers out front turn to non-Microsoft devices, there will be less pressure to run Microsoft on back-room kit.

Given the remarkable slew of great products coming from Microsoft in the past year, you have to wonder what the company can possibly do to get back on track. Any ideas?

9 thoughts on “Nice try Microsoft: not good enough

  1. Microsoft’s idiot gamble wasn’t the new workflows for Windows 8, it was that people want the walled garden ala Apple.

    Most people who use iPhones/iOS (imo/in my experience) are uneducated in their love for the system; a combination of false myths, old data and ignorance of features. A good example is things like the notification centre and panoramic pictures being touted by Apple when Android has had these features for years, and even iOS may have had these features (but not built-in). I think once they have been educated in what free choice gets you on a more open platform people realise what they have been missing out on. (What do you mean you can change your messaging app?)

    imo the majority doesn’t want a walled garden, they were tricked into it. Now that people are coming to their senses a new ecosystem looking a lot like Apple’s isn’t very appetising.

    I think Metro can work very well if they went a bit more integrated than they have (making classic apps force to run in Metro paradigm) and attacking multitasking more aggressively (I think nowadays processing power is getting enough that much like their share charm you can have applications advertise their wants and available outputs to be able to communicate things to open apps without switching to them. e.g. You have a file manager and a photo editing program open, you can send a command to the file manager from the photo editor to retreive a list of files (either previously selected in that window or all available or some kind of filter), now those files will open in the photo editor or you can do vice versa; from the file manager you select several files and send them to the photo editor which asks what you want to do (resize, auto-fix redeye, convert file type…). Of course this can be expanded quite complicatedly, just something I came up with just now).

    • lol, got off on a bit of a tangent and forgot to write my other point:

      Windows (and it’s derivatives) have always been described (loosely) as an open platform. Anyone can get some free tools and develop an app they want and then distribute however you want (CDs, USB drives, email, Internet download, etc). With the introduction of the app store in W8 people are getting a bit nervous at how much power Microsoft is going to exert over people in how they can (and what they can) produce for the platform. This is what games companies are worried about (they have their own content platform apps and sure as hell don’t wanna start paying 30% to Microsoft for something that has been free for 20 years).

  2. The more I read about MSFT windows tablet the more apparent it becomes that these are essentially a retry of the tablets they made earlier with a new UI and later technology. It failed then and it will probably fail now. It doesn’t look they can make the cognitive jump to a post Windows/Office age. This is a shame, if this latest offering bombs their best bet is perhaps to break them selves up and allow those parts that can succeed do so with out being dragged back into the mire by those who want to run office on your windows electric tooth brush.

    • Have you used one? They are by far the best tablet out there, people only hate on it because of the pedigree the name has behind it. If Microsoft release W8 under a different name they would be getting praised out the ass for a great product.

      • Windows 8 is nice on a tablet – I think it still needs to go through one more product development wash-rinse cycle. Windows Phone 8 is just about there – it could possibly do with a service pack to clear up a few lose ends and a couple of apps to fill in obvious gaps.

        Like I said, development-wise Microsoft has done well. Now it needs to focus on getting the strategy right – that may involve accepting lower gross margins or even becoming a smaller business – I’m not sure there’s any willingness to accept either of these.

    • “cognitive jump”

      Let’s stay with the metaphor.

      I think Microsoft is standing on the edge thinking about the jump, but it isn’t willing to jettison enough of its baggage to leap all the way across the gap.

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