The resurgence of Microsoft

Microsoft has had a pretty rough time the last few years.  Steve Jobs innovated like a mad genius and came up with the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad.  That’s alot of ground to cover and Microsoft has not been able to keep up.  At best, they tread water.

However, Steve Jobs is gone and I have serious doubts that Apple will come up with the next great thing without him.  In the meantime, Microsoft has gone all-in on their latest products.  Their bet is that touch screen laptop-tablet combos will be big and Windows 8 is designed from the ground-up to be the operating system for it.  A slew of sexy new devices have arrived, just in time for Christmas.

The Microsoft stores are sexy too.  For decades the strategy of Microsoft has been “embrace and extend”.  It means they embrace what works and then take it further than the original idea.  They took the Apple Store design and made it even cooler with built in wall videos and interactive gaming with Kinect.  They took the iPad and extended the idea to house an entire operating system, not just an “app” device.  Devices like the Surface and the Acer Aspire S7 are gorgeous and provocative.This is Microsoft’s moment to create a big buzz around themselves.

I have been using Windows 8 for a while now.  It works well.  I am taking alot of new design tips from their approach to Metro and a slew of new apps.  The touch screen will become part of the design process and you will see a merging of “deskop UI” with “touch UI”.  Bigger buttons, gestures, the whole shebang.

If I traded stock (which I don’t), I would buy Microsoft.  They have a great collection of new technologies and they seem really solid.  I would also short Apple stock.  I think their high-water mark is well behind them.  Mac Mini and iPhone 5 were boring before they even came out.  Innovation drives success in technology and right now Microsoft is doing exactly that.


3 replies on “The resurgence of Microsoft”

Not a big fan of Windows 8. It might be great for tablets and other touch screen devices, but as a laptop/desktop OS it’s not so easy to use. There are some really nice features under the hood in Windows 8 (memory management, application sandboxing, etc…) but the UI will keep me from using it full time. I wish they would have release multiple versions tablet/touch with Metro and laptop/desktop with the older desktop.

Microsoft is also doing some nice stuff in the development world. Visual Studio and .Net are both solid and new features added to .Net are very nice.

I don’t see MS accelerating in innovation.

The innovation that is needed would be an OS where the file system is rock solid and fast (not slowed down by constantly updating the UI) or extends seamlessly to the cloud (think three level or four level fusion drive (ssd, local hard drive, in house server, public cloud), an OS that supports retina displays, an OS that makes leaps in conserving battery (or energy in general for small embedded devices in things and wearable components), an OS that can be separated from its UI, so you can control the TV, heating, fridge, light, adruino with your phone/tablet/PC/browser. Or how about an open file dialog with built in search for files?

Most of the things you mention (or not) are still embrace and extend: MS Stores, Surface tablet, App Store, Bing, Office 365, …

The good innovations I see from MS are the Kinect and some of their Azure cloud infrastructure. Windows 8 tablet UI is promising, but that there is a different Windows 8 mobile is disturbing to me (it indicates that the core is not modular enough to be scaled and adapted – Linux can do it, why not MS? The same needs converge, multi core, energy management, ….)

Don’t forget SkyDrive. I started using it and am amazed at how good it is. At $50 a year, it’s also really cheap. The online apps are solid. Kaj, I think you are not giving them the credit they deserve.

Whatya think?