I saw this link on Fox today where it asks “Has Microsoft Lost Its Tech Edge?” and my only response is “You Just Noticed?

My personal realization of this started over a year ago but was then repeatedly reinforced over and over again at trade show after trade show lat year. MS was there at all of them, CES, Computex, IDF – that’s no surprise. What was shocking was how pointless their presence had become. An example – at Computex I saw a dozen or more tablet computers in the Microsoft booth as if they were coming out with a bunch of new and interesting hardware. But 80% of them were locked away in boxes (more here) and the rest were just retreads of 8 year old tech. Beside the useless hardware was the pointless revision of Office. To see more of the same at CES this week doesn’t surprise me at all.

The worst moment was when MS joined Intel during the tech keynote at IDF. When asked “Does MS have anything exciting you are working on?” in front of thousands of tech fanboys and media reps the woman literally said “no…not really.”

I was shocked!

Nothing? Really? You can’t even lie about it and say “…nothing I can share. [wink, wink]”? It was embarrassing and it sure looked as though the answer took the Intel guy by surprise…but there it was.

In short – Microsoft appears to have completely lost any sense of vision for the future. Yes, the landscape has changed and new technologies have emerged. Can that possibly be a surprise?I should point out that I don’t see this throughout MS. I think XBox continues to be the best thing in gaming and the Kinnect is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in years. (I LOVE JoyRide – critics who panned it are morons) and what MS Game Studios did to make Direct X 9 super friendly to MMO gaming was a brilliant and industry-leading move. So I see those divisions totally rocking it. It’s these Windows/Office jackwagons who are dragging the whole thing down. And sorry Steve, but you’re sucking up a bunch of wind and failing where MS and the broader tech space need you to lead.

The Fox story nailed it when they say “Ballmer took over Gates’ role as CEO but not as company visionary.” The Word says “without vision the people perish” and that seems to be what’s happening at (most of) Microsoft. Ballmer is a manger and cannot seem to find any sense that MS is doing anything other than retreading what worked 20 years ago. I should clarify that I don’t doubt MS’s validity as a profitable company, clearly they still make a pile of cash…for a while still. But what is desperately missing is even a whiff of excitement or creativity or leadership. There was a moment in 2010 when Apple’s market valuation surpassed MS and Steve Jobs said it was ‘surreal.’ But looking at how MS has behaved since Gates walked…

It wasn’t surreal. It was inevitable.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/01/06/ces-steve-balmer-talks-kinect-windows-phone/

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2 Comments
  1. Lennie

    While I agree Microsoft has lost its “cutting edge” status. I think the loss is solely rests on Steve Balmer’s lack to show the innovation behind the products the Microsoft made in the last few years (Ten, Two as spokesman) since he became the voice of Microsoft. I feel Microsoft is seeing the vision and executing the vision only to be let down by the outside developers. At CES this year there are dozens of “Windows 7 tablets” that look (yes look as I can not touch) to be iPad equivalents designed to match the corporate need the iPad leaves well … lacking. Cloud computing with a cloud capable tablet == corporate innovation. Yet Balmer says NOTHING of this huge accomplishment that happened on October 22, 2009 (The release of Windows 7). If Balmer let the public know what Windows 7 was instead of looking back making Windows 7 the “Vista” replacement then the innovation that it really was. The tablet revolution started with the iPad on April 3, 2010, yet if Microsoft showed the development community (Asus, Lenovo, Dell, HP …. any retail computer seller) what a REAL tablet looked like the revolution would have existed since Windows 7 released.

    Microsoft will become the back burner of innovation as long as Steve Balmer continues to represent Microsoft as a “money” is the importance and innovation means nothing. Windows 7 included full support for touch screen (Multi-Touch, swipes, rotate the works), screen rotation. But the biggest thing Windows 7 could mean for tablets is “the cloud” aka full collaborative access to documents using online productivity software from any where the tablet can connect where multiple devices in multiple countries can collaborate on the same documents at the same time. Cloud computing, part of Windows 7 included on any Windows 7 device….. innovation.

    Yet does anyone know, not the public == Steve Balmer is the worst spokesman ever!

  2. I don’t think I would say it was inevitable. Clearly Ballmer knows how to set up good people to lead a department, as evidenced by the Xbox division. The problem has been, I think, that he’s in charge of the Windows/Office unit of the company, when he should really delegate that to someone who has a passion and vision for it – I don’t know that Ballmer has a passion for anything other than the mountains of cash he can rake in.

    Also, as evidenced by Microsoft’s focus on ARM-based platforms at this CES, it’s pretty clear that at least someone there is thinking of the future, and has enough clout to motivate the management to change.

    So, downfall inevitable? I don’t think so. I think they’ve taken too long to right the ship – and it’s cost them. Hopefully Apple having more market valuation was the wake-up call that they needed, rather than a death-knell.

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