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Turning Microsoft Around — Again

July 29th, 2013 - 3:09 pm

Steve Ballmer, echoing Bill Gates’ famous internet memo of almost 20 years ago:

The results are in. Windows 8 hasn’t taken the market by storm. The Windows 8 tablets manufactured by our hardware partners are sitting in warehouses. We just took a $900M write-off on our RT tablets, now on fire-sale.

It doesn’t matter who actually proposed or implemented the failed strategy, I endorsed it. What matters most — the only thing that matters — is what we’re going to do now.

I have a plan. It’s conceptually simple but I won’t sugarcoat the situation. It will be extremely difficult to execute, particularly given the urgency.

First, I am tasking Terry Myerson, our EVP Operating Systems, with creating Windows Mobile 9, a tablet-capable version of Windows Phone 8 that will serve all of our mobile products. Until last week’s reorg, Terry was leading our Windows Phone group and is therefore ideally suited to the new task.

Qi Lu, EVP Applications and Services, will work with Tim to deliver a full, real Windows Mobile Office without the limitations imposed by RT. And, in keeping with our strategic need to spread Office everywhere and to provide the widest base for our on-line Office 365, Qi Lu will also produce Office versions for Android and iOS platforms.

Just kidding — that’s not Ballmer. Instead it’s Jean-Louis Gassée writing the memo Ballmer ought to write, if he wants a shot at making Microsoft relevant in mobile.

What’s interesting to me is, Gassée is echoing the advice I’ve been handing out for a year or so now: That Surface was going to flop, that MS is producing too many mobile operating systems, that Windows Phone ought to be scaled up to tablet size, and that desktop Windows ought to be left a desktop OS.

Whether or not Microsoft should actually build its own hardware is another matter. It’s one thing to manage a supply chain to build and distribute and sell 77 million Xbox 360s over the course of seven years; it’s quite another to build and distribute and sell 100 million phones or tablet each and every year. Nobody is better at operating at that scale than Tim Cook, and even he runs into problems with almost every single launch. I don’t know that Microsoft has anyone with that skill set.

But first, Microsoft needs a leader with something close to Gassée’s vision.

Anyone?

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All Comments   (6)
All Comments   (6)
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What blew Windows 8 out of the water was two things. First, MS destroyed their developer relationship (the tending of which was the company's actual core competency). As I understand it, the primary difficulty was in forcing devs to work in four mutually incompatible environments--Phone, RT Metro, Pro Metro, and the classic desktop Windows. All for a new system with an unproven market and some...interesting...ideas about the UI. Fat chance, when you can just develop for Apple and make money.

Second, the Office group failed to deliver mobile office that works well and integrates well with a companion desktop machine.

If the developer network had been properly cared for, they would have been quite happy to make money fixing any real UI issues, and Metro is actually kind of neat on touch-enabled devices.

If mobile Office had been worth anything and enabled tight integration across devices, that would have been a major selling point for many people (especially businesses). That would have jump-started the market and given the aforementioned developers incentive to keep working at making things better.

But now, having blown up the developer network, MS may not ever recover.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Gassée?? To Be or not to Be...
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Microsoft has some of the best and brightest talent in the world. I know a few such people. The problem is, just about every good idea is committee-engineered out of existence and morale is about what one would expect in Berlin 'round about spring, 1945.

It is perhaps the best example of how middle management, lead by horrible example, can sink even the biggest of ships.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Microsoft is middle management all the way up.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Just not within MonkeyBoy's skill set.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Microsoft's business talent consists solely of the abuse of monopoly. Their skill set is how to manipulate Dept of Justice anti-trust division.

There is no other skill set being fostered in Redmond.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
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