Don't Cite Microsoft Strengths as Weaknesses


As soon as Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced his retirement, pundits and Wall Street couldn’t drive fast enough to throw him under the bus. Ballmer wasn’t exactly a warm and cuddly guy or a cult figure evoking worship a la Steve Jobs, but he’s leaving behind a Microsoft with assets – not liabilities -- that the 30 second attention span of Twitter just doesn’t get in 140 characters.

Microsoft bashing goes into how the company “missed” mobile and nearly missed the Internet, with tablets and phones magically predestined to rule the world. Really?

If we spin the clock back two decades less a couple of years, Netscape was supposed to rule the world since Microsoft came late to the Internet party. Netscape had dominant market share while Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE), in a word, sucked. After that rough start, Microsoft stepped up its game and ended up crushing Netscape. IE today faces off against Google’s Chrome and Firefox Mozilla in a long war, but it continues to hold a good chunk of the browser market. 

Image courtesy Shutterstock

Mobile devices represent a new frontier where Microsoft has yet to establish a strong foothold. However, software bigots and press haters need to recognize that the company has three strongholds that continue to give it power: Desktop, enterprise, and gaming.

Tablets are great, and fine for mobile workers and light work. But if users need to go heavy with document creating and editing, Web work, spreadsheets, or any sort of technical application, you need a full-sized keyboard, a large screen capable of displaying two documents side by side, and a mouse to maximize productivity.  You don’t design cars on tablets.

Concurrent with control of the desktop is Microsoft’s long-term relationship with the enterprise. Decades of investment in the pillars of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, supplemented by real-time communication capabilities through Lync translate to a steady, stable, and ongoing relationship between the business world and Microsoft. Linux hasn’t been able to breech the corporate desktop, while Google’s Chrome plus the cloud doesn’t offer the richness and power of vertical applications built through the years. 

Gaming is the wild card in Microsoft’s deck. The Xbox provides an ongoing relationship and revenue with the living room. Unlike video entertainment designed to be run anywhere, most successful games are tied to hardware, providing the last successful walled garden in the electronic world. Google continues to hammer away at establishing its own beachhead in the living room while rumors continue to swirl of an Apple home entertainment solution built around an HDTV.

One signal area in Microsoft’s future may be the world of 3D printing. The company has built an API for 3D printing in Windows 8.1 and is highlighting the technology in select Microsoft stores. Such moves seem to outpace Apple’s detail obsessive decision cycle, while it isn’t clear how Google would begin to put together an effective solution with its existing technology. To hear more about Microsoft and its ongoing successes, be sure to catch one of the many sessions at ITEXPO where senior Microsoft staffers will be speaking. Click HERE to see a complete list of presenters, and then search “Microsoft.”

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

Contributing Editor

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