Random thoughts on Microsoft Strategy

Microsoft has been in the process of changing it’s strategy for some time now. At first I was skeptical of the search/Ad game they are playing with Google. If you were the web entrepreneurial type, you may believe Paul Graham’s web rant on the same topic. After further observation and thought, I see that is clearly not much more then a pain point. The Google/Ad thing may be a huge tree in MS’s forest, but it is quite clearly not the only tree…..or even the tree of the future….

  1. Secure computing, everyone hates security now that it’s in their face (Vista UAC)….I guess that goes to show how much we as users don’t understand where the flaws in our computing behavior is. I am glad that MS finally tried to put their foot down and force lazy vendors/users to make it secure and easy. I can’t wait for Vista’s successor when it works though :) If you look at what Vista is doing today and what we as consumers were letting into our homes, bags, and workplaces before……we should all be ashamed. Steve Riley has always ranted about how lame it is that these third party vendors open up so many holes in our infrastructure. I would like to see Microsoft continue to force all of them out of this practice. Using some of their weight and long arms to strangle the security holes instead of blabbing about it at tech conferences will be a welcome change. Looks like a good way to keep sturdy roots for this tree…
  2. Search/Ad competition, It sure seems to just get under Bill G’s skin that google is still kicking butt. Unfortunately I haven’t seen a benefit from the competition yet…..Microsoft still doesn’t let it’s developers release half-baked products to consumers to test new markets (believe me, I’ve seen some of the internal tools, they could be profitable products if people got a chance to use them). On the other hand, the Google search paradigm has already been defined, so MS is in it’s usual position to take advantage of it’s reach and to integrate search better then gmail did. So when are they going to stop laying around and actually put out something worth using? I tried not to install the google toolbar for IE7….but the results are so much closer to what I want (meaning it works how I want it to work, without me telling it what I want)…….kind of like the blackberry for mobile email does email how I want….
  3. Mobility, Although Windows Mobile is cool, RIM and Symbian have more marketshare, more partners, and better worldwide support. As MS moves further into the mobility space….Live apps + Mobility + traditional infrastructure connections make for a great platform. The podcasting device that is always wined about exists already on windows mobile! Perhaps this tree will grow fairly large, maybe embracing the BES client and OMA-DS will make this truly happen in WM7….
  4. Social computing, ok we’ve seen all the cool MS Research tools out there, how long do they sit in the pipeline before consumers can get them? See number 2…..on the other side we can share gaming experiences (xbox online), music experiences (zune), work experiences (LCS), using our voices (OCS), on the net (Sharepoint), and semi-in-person (LiveMeeting)…that is pretty cool….can you make teleconfrencing between remote users and large presentation rooms better? I want to sit in the audience of teched while at my desk and hear/ask questions as if I were physically there….ok, integrating XBox chat and MSN IM is cool, but businesses need these to just be there and integrated without a lot of work…
  5. New Media, There is of course the endless playground of new media, IPTV, soapbox, etc, etc. Microsoft has done a great job at investing in the next new thing and continuing to not waste too much money on these endeavors. I’m sure when one of them pays off….it will pay off big for consumers, Microsoft, and partners. 
  6. Business suites, ah we finally have something after all of the acquisitions of yesteryear…Accounting, Dynamics, etc about time these things actually become Microsoft products….I hope future acquisitions don’t sit this long in dev before release, perhaps better partnering could bring these to market faster…..Of course there are the old reliable systems that keep improving, It is still a good time to be running behind the Microsoft Steam Engine.  Besides, who has ever been fired for buying blue?
  7. Productivity, yes….MS Office still rocks! Office 2007 has improved everything I do….and there is still room for improvement! That means this one suite of tools will be around and leading the curve for a long time. Maybe integrate search a little better with office for an all around experience? or make office cheaper with ads?

I guess that leaves the question of where are we now? Microsoft is partnering with everyone….F5, HP, EMC, etc, etc, etc…..all the major and a lot of minor companies are signing big deals with Microsoft. Perhaps they see a new horizon and are positioning themselves with new partnerships to maintain market dominance? Perhaps they see competition and want to keep their enemies closer then their friends?

Or my opinion, a mix of the two….their old partners have been sucked dry (Is Citrix still relevant?), or they have been coaxed away by other companies, and now MS needs to find partners who have technologies they can lean on for now (didn’t the first Microsoft technologies have crutches), and borrow in the future (that were turned into legs later), and throw away when they figure out how to do it better (yes, all the partners are consumed or put aside in the end). Hmm, maybe there is some intrinsic value in that flat stock price that is worth something!

It’s kind of the Microsoft way (we’ve seen the cycle a couple of times now, so no….there is nothing new here, no wonder Bill got tired of it and is moving on to something completely different)….and if we watch it for another ten years we’ll see it happen again….any guesses on the next round of technologies or partners that Microsoft will use?

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3 Responses to “Random thoughts on Microsoft Strategy”

  1. Peter Quirk Says:

    Let’s not forget what they’re doing to tackle some really annoying productivity problems in the joint hardware-software space. I commend them for the work on microphone arrays which should significantly improve those dreadful phone conferences with your offshore BPO. Couple this with work on wireless projectors to improve hand-offs from one presenter to another. On the mobility front (or the energy front) the hybrid disk support is another significant advance. These are investments which really separate Microsoft from Google.

  2. joshmaher Says:

    Great point Peter, there are a lot of these advancements that MS has been doing to “make our lives easier”. A lot of the things in their research group is along those same lines….making every day life easier with technology. That has a lot of potential, as far as strategy goes though; those things hang off the big trees (integrating UM with Exchange, or wireless projectors with Vista, etc). So yes, these things are immensely important, but for the most part they are included features in a major release and the ingenuity of the idea is sometimes overlooked.

    One thing I find odd though, is this make things easier with technology doesn’t seem to be the principle they are using for their Search strategy….

  3. Instant Messaging Conversation Search « Messaging….. Technology…… Life….. Says:

    […] Messaging Conversation Search Earlier I made a comment about Microsoft better integrating search capabilities into MS Office…..then I tried to search within a […]

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