Style over Substance
If you really want to understand Microsoft's slow decline that seems totally counterintuitive, you have to go back in time. In doing so you will see the point where the company deviated from serving it's core market and (very) successful adoption strategy.
Start at the beginning. There were two strategies being tried in the new personal computer market that was then dominated by systems like VAX, Xenix, UNIX and AS400 micro, mini and full mainframes. These strategies were, "What you use in the office you will use at home" and "What you use at home and school will redefine the office." These strategies were used by Microsoft and Apple respectively. The other players targeted niche applications as Commodore held the video and graphics arts markets. Focusing on Microsoft, the migration from office to home was an amazing success helping feed the "hobbyist" demographic as well. From IBM's initial dismissal of the PC market the door opened for all of the PC "clone" producers, that dominate the branding we know today, to get there started. And all across this new open architecture ecosystem was Microsoft as the primary OS.
One of the main keys to the success was the open and modular architecture in both hardware and software. Third party innovation grew from garages into powerhouses like Symantec (who bought Norton Utilities and AntiVirus.) Time passes and the new commercialized Internet becomes "a thing" that Microsoft was initially ignoring. This was the first warning that the company was losing touch with it's customer base and the technological environment as a whole. They did not see the potential of the dot.com era and review the complete botch in dealing with Netscape. Roll the clock forward through the Windows 3.11 and NT Advanced Server generation till we hit Windows 95 and NT 4.0 Server. These were the last truly innovative OS foundation products that balanced the modular requirements of the technical staff and the "ease of use" of the consumer. Case in point - WolfPack - a free third party developed network software plug-in for load balancing servers. It allowed a standard license NT 4.0 server to perform the one additional required function that otherwise required an Enterprise Server license.
We are now at the place where Microsoft makes it's fatal direction change; Windows 2000. Don't get me wrong, the Windows 2000 is a fully functional solution that runs well, but here is where the obscurity and deliberate lack of simple modularity beings. I submit that this started here due to the perceived loss of revenue due to the third party developers replacing functionality in the higher priced products. The result is a dumbing down and abstraction of access to the core functionality of the OS. If you need a "wizard" that is much akin to an installer package just to perform basic administration, something is wrong. Combine that with crazy licensing schemes and now you are really starting to alienate the tech staff who has to support your product.
It is true the the servers, cloud offerings, and subsequent OS releases do work... well mostly. This attempt to remove the product from the in-depth control of the Net Admins and wild experimentation of the hobbyist is slowly rendering the viable interest of all of Microsoft's offerings down to the lowly shrink-wrapped closed ecosystem Mac OS.
So here is the take away. Everything in the article is well, nice. It's pretty, but it shows the final closure of control and innovation due to an isolationist walled garden philosophy. Yeah, I'm one of the proud former users of DOS 1.1 and I even started my first ISP using NT 3.51 Advanced Servers. Now, I am saddened by the direction that is clearly the direction of the industry focused on hype and quarterly profits. It is clear that without a major course correction, Microsoft no longer deserves the innovation enabling title it once held. It is going to become just another me-too also ran. Oh, don't worry, they aren't going to fade from the ecosystem immediately. Use Novell as the timetable reference. There are still a few Novell servers out there running fine and doing their jobs... and MySpace is still on-line even under the shadow of Facebook. Once defining powerhouses but lost their way and the core markets. If Microsoft wants to get ahead of this, try defining and evangelizing private clouds and once again work with your vendors to INNOVATE package solutions using the wisdom of the past and the capabilities of today. Think private cloud style SBS with an old school ISA firewall. Streamline the virtual servers, make it modular so we can extend it. Let your customers do the dreaming.
and the list goes on. If you don't empower your customer to be your R&D, Linux will. And that is what will replace you. One good GUI for LDAP user/file security management and I am gone as a customer forever. Heck, even the Zorin version of Ubuntu Linux has auto-updates now... annoying pop-up style just like Windows. Libre Office needs a good replacement of Outlook to share calendars and contacts... then why buy MSOffice? To use a cloud solution that, thanks to Snowden, we know is pre-compromised?
Style over Substance... doesn't matter if it works, just as long as it is pretty enough to keep them distracted till the next release.
</ Rambling Rant>