The typical two year PC upgrade cycle and Microsoft's software roadmap is not going to hold in a Web-centric app-happy world. Does Redmond get it?
There are two sides to Microsoft: big corporate installation Microsoft looking after the needs of companies that like things under control and predictable; geezer Microsoft chasing after anyone that threatens its turf in the consumer computing space.
So, let's forget about big corporate loving Microsoft because, it has a license to print money, and for the foreseeable future, it is going to dictate how its customers evolve their vast PC installations so that they don't end breaking their vast IT infrastructures.
Let's focus on geezer Microsoft trying to play in the consumer space. Geezer Microsoft is very interesting because, it really is the only company that has feet firmly planted in the enterprise computing space and the consumer computing space. Business critical and consumer ubiquitous. Who else can make that claim?
A recent blog post by Microsoft's Corporate VP of Corporate Communications, Frank X. Shaw, is titled Microsoft by the Numbers. The stats are sobering to the say the least:
Number of Windows 7 licenses sold, making Windows 7 by far the fastest growing operating system in history.
Projected iPad sales for 2010.
Projected netbook sales in 2010.
Projected PC sales in 2010.
Total subscribers to largest 25 US daily newspapers.
Total number of Netflix subscribers.
Total number of Xbox Live subscribers.
Linux Server market share in 2005.
Predicted Linux Server market share for 2007 (made in 2005).
Actual Linux Server market share, Q4 2009.
Global iPhone sales in Q1 2010.
Nokia smartphone sales in Q1 2010.
Total smartphone sales globally in Q1 2010.
Projected global smartphone sales in 2014.
Global Gmail users.
Global Yahoo! Mail users.
Global Windows Live Hotmail users.
Active Windows Live Messenger Accounts worldwide.
Apple Net income for fiscal year ending Sep 2009.
Google Net income for fiscal year ending Dec 2009.
Microsoft Net Income for fiscal year ending June 2009.
Total Microsoft revenue, FY2000.
Total Microsoft revenue, FY2009.
So, it's worth thinking of geezer Microsoft as Michael Douglas getting to sleep with Catherine Zeta Jones, and not as Abe Simpson drooling on the couch.
But when will Microsoft overreach itself with its upgrade cycles to Windows and Office. I'll give the company Windows 7 as a must have upgrade because, Vista sucked, and XP was on life support and it was about to have the plug pulled. Office 2010 is pretty cool. Sure, you can get on Google Docs, but you can also drive a Saturn instead of a BMW. If you can afford the BMW, you might want to think about the experience versus the savings. The experience of Office trumps Google Docs in every way.
Now, we have Windows 8 info leaked across the Internets, and I am at a loss as to what the heck the point of this next Microsoft OS upgrade is going to be for me, as a consumer. The documentation is extensive, and you can download here. Almost all of it is typical of Microsoft's approach the last twenty years: try to meet the predicted hardware path for the PC and deliver features in the OS to drive the platform. However, how much more of the kitchen sink can Microsoft keep throwing into Windows? I mean, they want to have an App Store for Windows 8? What?? They have facial recognition. They'll have laptops that will grow an Xbox wart for gaming as soon as biochips go into mass production.
I recommend you read Eric Sherman's take on BNET. As he concludes:
"Microsoft wants to provide “a seamless experience” across personal and professional use of devices. In other words, Microsoft thinks that by continuing to be the powerhouse in business, it will continue to control home use, and visa versa. But unless Microsoft can remove its historic blinders, when strategy meets entrenched attitudes, it will end up exactly where it’s been, not where it needs to be."
I am a consumer. I don't want to spend another couple of hundred bucks upgrading my OS ever again. I had to Windows 7, and I am happy with Windows 7. I don't want to think about Windows 8, or Office 2012. I hope the next generation of laptops and netbooks really do have a choice of pre-installed OS. I hope it does come down to my experience, and no, I don't want a Mac either because, I just don't think Apple justified the premium, but then again, I don't need a BMW either.
Okay, I can't afford one. But, you get my point. Microsoft is overreaching on Windows 8 as far as I am concerned, but I only matter 0.0000000015%.