After Gates, will Microsoft matter‾

18 Jun 2008

It's a Microsoft world. For all the new technologies and devices of the past decade, MS still dominates for most users.

I was thinking this this morning as, once again, my PC took ten minutes to boot up. Microsoft then advised me it wanted to take over my computer for an hour in another attempt to patch up its shoddy software.

In my mail box, Amazon plugged a book called Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft Plans to Stay Relevant in the Post-Gates Era.

Stay‾ Stay relevant‾

Microsoft might be ubiquitous, but that doesn't equal relevance, nor mention reliability, elegance or efficiency.

I can't think of the last thing that Microsoft did that benefited the user as much as Microsoft itself.

Social networking. Web 2.0. The mobile internet. Broadband and 3G. the iPhone. Google. Utility computing. Microsoft missed them all. Back in the 1990s, Microsoft even missed the rise of the web, choosing instead to launch MSN as an online service.

Forrester CEO George Colony believes the reason Microsoft still trails Google and why Apple is now an industry leader again is because Bill Gates has stepped back from the wheel.

If true, it's something Microsoft shareholders might be contemplating now that Gates is leaving for good.

But it may also be that companies like Google and Apple have a culture of innovation that enables them to turn out fresh and attractive products. Microsoft has a culture of imitation and, dare we say, intimidation and domination.

Microsoft's efforts in segments it doesn't already own is poor. It can claim a moderate success with the Xbox, but more typical is Windows Mobile; after decade of investment in handset platforms, it has 12% of the smartphone market. And has anyone ever seen a Zune music player‾

No-one is scared of Microsoft anymore, as this blogger at Extreme Tech points out. The Yahoo and Vista debacles merely make that more so.

Good luck to Gates in his philanthropic work. Like him, several hundred million PC users are also hoping to leave Microsoft behind.

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