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Is Microsoft Still Relevant?

“Well, technology companies either move forward, too, or they die. They become less relevant.”? — Steve Ballmer.

I am writing this post on Windows XP, an operating system first released in October of 2001. It is a good enough operating system which means, for the most part, I endure the experience of running Windows. Windows 7 will soon hit the shelves at roughly $300 for an Ultimate version. I can pre-order a copy. I can line up early for a copy. I can host a Windows 7 launch party.

But I won’t.

The New York Times had an interesting piece on Microsoft. The online version is here. The Fake Steve Jobs provides a less sanitized and more vulgar version here. Some interesting quotes from the New York Times:

Is Microsoft leading the digital era?

For many years, Microsoft and its leaders could make sweeping statements like this with little public pushback. Microsoft embodied the technology industry and was the grand arbiter of the tools people used to conduct business and navigate the digital era.

These days, however, Microsoft has legions of doubters. While it still commands a prominent and profitable position in computing, brand experts say consumers stumble when trying to define what the company stands for and whether it can create a grander technological future.

Is Microsoft relevant?

Critics of Microsoft say it has hugely underestimated market changes and plotted a long and winding course toward irrelevance. It remains too fixated on its old-line, desktop-based franchises, they say ”” too slow, too predictable and too, well, Microsoft.

Can Microsoft build great products?

Executives at Microsoft say it has gotten its house in order, putting an end to delayed, clunky products like the maligned and then ignored Windows Vista… According to a new CoreBrand study, Microsoft”™s reputation and the perception of its management and investment potential have been declining for over a decade, with the drop-off accelerating over the last five years.

Is Microsoft the Evil Empire?

Rivals now simply dismiss Microsoft as a laggard rather than hitting it with the Evil Empire criticisms so familiar in the 1990s. In its place stands Google, which now has Microsoft”™s mantle as a game-changing technology behemoth and is also increasingly perceived as a dominant competitor whose power warrants concern.

Microsoft will be around for a while yet. And hopefully a new leader will drive some much needed change in this company. When the New York Times decided to run this photo of Ballmer as the cover for the story, you know that it is getting time for a leadership change.

ballmer

Windows 7 Launch Party

Have you planned your Windows 7 Launch Party yet? Don’t wait! Get started today!


Microsoft Retail Store

Another bold stroke of innovation: the Microsoft retail experience.

As Time magazine put it:

The world’s largest software company is faced with doing whatever it can to make Windows 7 a success, even if it has to open a store in every mall in America.

Here is a video highlighting the Microsoft experience.

Windows 7: Simple, Not Easy

I had to chuckle when I read this on Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows:

I’m referring of course to Microsoft’s decision to finely tune every nook and cranny in its upcoming Windows 7 operating system in a bid to dramatically simplify the system. This work is valuable and necessary. But I’m worried that Microsoft is turning Windows into an OS that is far more like the Mac than previous Windows versions. And that’s not necessarily a good thing. That’s because Windows 7 is turning into something that is simple, but not easy.

Clearly he is worried that the folks in Redmond are not necessarily skilled with all this simplicity stuff.

Read the rest of his post here. Some interesting thoughts and perspectives on product design, simplicity and complexity.