Microsoft doesn’t need a window cleaner, just new Windows


These days it’s impossible to do anything but use iOS as a reference point when discussing new Mobile or Touch based Operating systems. But I’m going to briefly try and share my reactions to Windows 8 as if the iOS never existed.

I mostly hesitate to link to Daring Fireball, because you know everyone does it. But John Gruber’s post following the announcement of  “Windows Phone” in March 2010 makes the a great case for what I write next.

There’s no good way to leverage their Windows PC OS monopoly to extend it to mobile, other than the name, so they’re sticking with it.

I’m going to assume there is merit in the argument that Microsoft have a culture which values “Windows” and “Office” over all other considerations. I’ve seen suspicions deconstructed in a number of articles over the years that restrictions might be placed on innovation in other areas of Microsoft’s business so that those units wouldn’t impact the success of the core business drivers. Namely, Windows and Office.

I’m unsurprised then by the decision to wrap the Windows Phone touch UI over the “tried and true” Windows experience in Windows 8. And less surprised by the dropping of Excel into a teaser video for the product.

In last weeks Planet Money Friday Podcast, they discussed why businesses failing was important for an economy.

Failure, Harford argues, is essential to economic growth. Old companies fail and are replaced by newer companies with fresh ideas.

Similarly, large businesses need to let go of poorly performing units or at least have a hard and fast plan for the day when even their number one performing product will be dead. You’d like to think Microsoft have enough wise heads already planning for what that future may look like. But If I were an investor I’d be worried Microsoft’s strategy looks like an attempt to push back the barbarians from the cash cows of Windows and Office by adding fancy touch UI’s, stirring well and waiting to see what happens.

It goes without saying an overwhelming majority of the populace will still buy services based on this tech for at least the next 4-5 years. What’s under question is will it be a Nokia majority – volume at low margin with no added value – or will it reinvent itself and continue to be a successful majority? Only time will tell, but unless Microsoft have some secret sauce which doesn’t just consist of their current market domination, I’m betting on the latter.

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