Is Microsoft Slowly Fading Away?

Earlier in the week I read Robert Scoble’s article - Starbucks CIO shows why next version of Windows is “risky business” for Microsoft. He certainly paints a dark, dark future for Microsoft.

Bill Gates created one of the most successful companies on the planet. Under Steve Balmer’s watch, Bill’s empire seems to be sliding into obscurity. Microsoft no longer seems influential or even relevant.


When was the last time you saw lines around the block for a Windows 7 Series phone, a Zune or anything from Microsoft? As the world moves more toward mobile computing, Microsoft seems to be slowly fading away.

The Influence of Apple

Starbucks isn’t representative of all North American computer users but I was surprised to find out that iPads and iPhones are the most used devices in Starbucks stores. Because iOS doesn’t support Flash, Starbucks doesn’t support Flash. Why upset all those Apple customers drinking lattes in your coffee shop? They’ve decided to support HTML 5 on their social network to so that people with iPads and iPhone and iPod Touch devices could use them properly. That is influence.

When was the last time that you heard an organization the size of Starbucks say that they were going to support Microsoft’s Silverlight? Windows Mobile 7?

Balmer Lacks Vision

Unfortunately for Microsoft, I think Balmer lacks vision and doesn’t know where to take the company. I guess you could argue that lack of vision has always been Microsoft’s problem. They tend to follow more than they innovate. This goes back to the very first version of Windows right up to Windows 7 which to me, looks like a clone of Mac OS X.

It’s easy to bash Microsoft but they are still a very successful company. Ten years ago Microsoft owned the computer world, Apple was coming off life support, Netscape and AOL were major online players and Google was just taking off. Imagine what the technology landscape will look like in another ten years.

Is Microsoft the Next Blockbuster?

I think Microsoft will continue to flounder, lose market share and some of the influence they use to have. They’ll continue to milk the profits from Windows and Office but unless they produce a “game changer” soon, they could become the next Blockbuster. And if Balmer doesn’t step aside soon, Microsoft will continue to fade.

If you don’t think that Balmer is part of the problem, just watch this video from 10 years ago:

Brown Zune

Microsoft Tends To Follow More Than It Leads

Remember the misguided Microsoft Kin that was killed off earlier in the year? It reminds me of Microsoft Bob, Windows Marketplace and the brown Zune. None of these products took off or became the next big thing because Microsoft tends to follow more than it leads.

While Microsoft continues to flounder, Google and Apple continue to surge ahead with innovative operating systems and award winning products. Microsoft is showing promise with Windows Phone 7 but is it enough? I would hate to be in Balmer’s position or the project lead on Windows 8.

Posted in Technology at 8:19 PM