Remember in 1995 when Microsoft brought out Windows 95? They made the PC easy to use in comparison to its earlier DOS-based predecessor. That spooked Apple so badly (Well, let’s be honest. So did Apple’s bottom line.) that they brought back Steve Jobs from exile. Microsoft created Office, made Excel virtually the only spreadsheet anyone in corporate America uses. (Yes, I know. There are other spreadsheets. I probably even know most of the two dozen people who use them.) Chances are, your work email is on Outlook.
Well, all that happened in the 1990’s. Wanna know why it took until 2012 for them to come up with the Surface tablet? Oh, they had one years before the iPad was even on Steve Jobs’ radar. It ran Windows 2000 and needed a stylus. Um… Yeah.
So what else has Microsoft done lately? The Zune. Windows Vista. How about Windows 8, which has the most idiotic interface of any modern operating system. And what is the cloud-based system called this week? It used to be Azure. Maybe it’s Azure again. Or maybe…
The problem is Bill Gates retired. Yes, Bill Gates was a ruthless businessman who thought nothing of riding roughshod over competitors. All the while, Microsoft was considered hip, the company that upstaged stuffy old IBM at their own game. But when Bill retired, he put in charge his right-hand man. The Pope Benedict to his John Paul II. Steve Ballmer.
Love Microsoft. Hate them. You can’t deny that, since Gates’ departure, it has been a rudderless ship. Not only has Apple overtaken them as the most valuable company in the world, but Google has pwned them with not one but two operating systems. Yes, the Don’t Be Evil people are Apple’s biggest competitors, not Microsoft. No one uses a Zune. If you don’t own an iPod, you probably use your phone, which is either an iPhone or an Android, with Blackberry getting most of the scraps.
When Gates ran Microsoft, developers and engineers tripped over themselves trying to score some sweet office space in Redmond. Now they stay in the Bay Area, where the only pariah of late is Oracle (the database company who is the only outfit Microsoft seems to be handing its lunch.) And in Redmond? In an attempt to emulate Jack Welch at General Electric, Ballmer has implemented a cannibalistic means of internal competition that has stifled creativity and resulted in brand confusion. The result?
Have you seen Windows 8 lately?
Time for Steve to pick up on the Pope Benedict comparison and retire.
Failing that, how soon do you think HP and Dell can switch to a user-friendly version of Ubuntu?