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Does Microsoft Have Its Mojo Back?
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Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
4/7/2014 | 11:40:47 AM
Optimistic
I'm quite optimistic about the immediate future of Microsoft, something that just a short while ago I was quite soured on. In my mind Windows 9 was going to be even more of a closed ecosystem than 8 and instead of opening itself up - like it has done now - Micrsoft would follow Apple's way of thinking and circle the wagons further and further as its relevance shrunk.

Now though it has potential. It will at the very least be interesting to watch. 
xwagner
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xwagner,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/7/2014 | 11:53:52 AM
Implying that MSFT ever had any Mojo
Whom are we kidding? MSFT is kind of the US government of the computing world. Huge, bloated, inefficient. Windows  XP remains popular and STABLE, yet MSFT is abandoning it -- dumb. Some of MSFT's offering are like leafing through a 1975 Sear's catalog and gawking at the fashions. Hideous polyester knockoffs of what kids might have been wearing five years earlier. They still make the Windows phone? Talk about an excruciating miss. And the "Surface" tablet? Was that meant to kill off the iPad? That's just sad. MSFT seems to distill or concentrate the most aggravating and willfully boneheaded behavior of the PC set, then wonder why nothing is selling. Mojo? Microsoft? Are you high?
stevew928
IW Pick
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stevew928,
User Rank: Strategist
4/7/2014 | 12:23:16 PM
Re: Implying that MSFT ever had any Mojo
That's pretty much what I was thinking as well. You have to have mojo to get it back. Microsoft never really had it. Their popularity was due to a combination of savvy and dishonest business moves, not mojo, innovation, etc. There is a lot of talent at Microsoft, I just keep hoping it can one day be allowed to shine through. With Ballmer out of the way, I'm guessing that might be a possibility, so hopefully their future is now brighter - but not in simple terms of sales and people feeling like they are forced to use the stuff - but in their producing great products people want to use.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
4/7/2014 | 12:45:09 PM
Re: Optimistic
Ever walked into a Microsoft retail store? It's usually vacant. The problem has been that Microsoft has not built an ecosystem that can compare to Apple. There's nothing wrong with that, but understanding that perhaps a consumer-centric world is not Microsoft's strength should be a concession that the company should pursue. 

It's been a great run for Microsoft on the consumer front. But let's be realistic: Other than the Xbox, what has the company done in the past ten years as a hit in retail? Time to concede to focus on servers, tools, virtualization, etc. 
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
4/7/2014 | 12:58:11 PM
Re: Optimistic
What might change your opinion on Surface? Price point? More apps? Weigh in and tell us what you think, readers.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
4/7/2014 | 1:58:09 PM
Re: Optimistic
"It's been a great run for Microsoft on the consumer front. But let's be realistic: Other than the Xbox, what has the company done in the past ten years as a hit in retail? Time to concede to focus on servers, tools, virtualization, etc."

While I'm not really sure how to solve Microsoft's hardware dilemma (price cuts would help), I don't think they should ignore consumers altogether. I won't be surprised if we see a cross-platform Cortana release before the end of the year, for example. By 2016, maybe Microsoft will only have 10% of the global smartphone market. But maybe it will have 30% of 40% of the digital assistant market, and all the spoils that come with it.

For example, if Cortana becomes available on iPhones, it will surely have hooks for a Skype app. But will Cortana also be able to initiate FaceTime chats? If Microsoft finds the right balance between openness and internal synergy, it could be a software and cloud force to be reckoned with, both in and out of the office. In Microsoft's ideal world, cross-platform software/services success could still feed demand for Windows devices; if iPhone users come to love Cortana and OneDrive, for example, some of them might drift to Windows Phone, which should be able to integrate the services more organically. I think Microsoft faces tougher prospects on the device front than the software/services front, but I can see why Nadella is still talking about both as opportunities.

All of that is speculative, of course, but I think it shows Microsoft still has reason to pursue consumers, at least with software/services.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
4/7/2014 | 1:59:20 PM
Windows 8: best supporting OS
The challenge for Microsoft is to keep up the momentum as a cross-platform cloud/mobile champ without letting Windows 8.1 fall off the map. It's clear Windows OS is transitioning to a supporting role. But with BlackBerry out of the picture, Windows can be a solid third option on smartphones and tablets. Cortana, free Windows licenses (which should reduce phone prices), and the Univeral Apps program for developers put the company in a position to finally get some consumer attention. As long as they don't screw it up with lousy marketing as they did repeatedly in the Ballmer era.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
4/7/2014 | 2:04:45 PM
Re: Windows 8: best supporting OS
Great points, Shane.


Regarding marketing-- I think Microsoft's Windows ads have gotten much better lately. It's the recent Samsung ads that annoy me. But you're right: Microsoft has some momentum that could translate to consumer traction, and with Windows Phone 8.1 about to launch with new features and new hardware, Nadella will face pressure not to repeat the poor messaging that sometimes characterized the Ballmer years.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
4/7/2014 | 2:15:55 PM
Re: Windows 8: best supporting OS
Give Cortana Scarlett Johansson's voice. Game changer.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
4/7/2014 | 2:32:51 PM
Re: Implying that MSFT ever had any Mojo
"so hopefully their future is now brighter - but not in simple terms of sales and people feeling like they are forced to use the stuff - but in their producing great products people want to use."

Semantics around the word "mojo" aside, I think this is the key point. ;)

Microsoft still faces problems-- Windows XP, Surface, etc. But before Build, it faced even more problems: old developer-new developer balance; Windows versus cross-platform; license revenue versus cloud services revenue; feature deficiency on mobile phones; developer hesitancy to re-write apps for different Windows platforms; no Office on iPad; price and feature competition from AWS and Google; and so on.

Nadella didn't completely solve this longer list of problems, but he did a lot to point the ship in the right direction. The last parts of Ballmer's tenure were marred by his hesitancy to embrace what works now, rather than what worked once upon a time. His strategies advocated partial solutions (were this not the case, Nadella, in his former role, wouldn't have led the Azure to such rapid growth) that were sabotaged by Windows protectivism. Nadella still has work to do, but I think he's justified new optimism.
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