‘Microsoft has failed’: Really?

Several recent articles on SemiAccurate.com have been, shall we say, less than favorable in comments about Microsoft. And that’s being very polite.

This story, from back in June, discusses how HP has parted ways with Microsoft over Surface and its hardware, choosing instead to ally with Google. There’s this one, about how Microsoft has cut Valve.com–the maker of Steam–out of Windows 8 consideration, which would not seem to be a very smart move:

[Steam has] 40 million users. 40 million avid gamers that buy software. 40 million avid gamers, game companies, and people who have invested literally billions of dollars in games. Those games are 100% tied to Steam. Games are the only thing that ties PCs to Microsoft these days, everything else is better, more secure, and more stable when it is not on Windows. If Microsoft cuts out Valve, or even makes life a teeny bit hard for Valve, much less pulls a Wordperfect, they will cut 40 million users out of their software library. If they needed yet another reason not to upgrade to Windows 8/WART [Windows ARM-based RT], this would be it.

If you thought that was a bit harsh–to quote Bachman-Turner Overdrive, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

In an article from last week, SemiAccurate’s Charlie Demerjian (the same author as the first two referenced stories, above)  declares, “Microsoft has failed”:

To fix things, [Steve] Ballmer didn’t acknowledge the massive problems confronting the company, didn’t address how their purported fixes are not only failing to stem the losses but also destroying the market for previously safe products, and he didn’t even announce anything to look forward to at all. Instead, he picked a scapegoat, canned Steve Sinofsky, and claimed Surface sales were, “modest”. iPad sales are not modest. iPhone sales are not modest. Android phone sales are not modest. Android tablet sales are modest only in comparison to Apple products. Surface sales are not modest either, they are an absolute disaster.

Getting back to Ballmer’s eulogy for [Steve] Sinofsky, remember that? He said that the guy gave his all, did a great job, and took the fall for, well, Ballmer most likely. The rest of the quote goes on to say how integrated the whole of Microsoft is now, go team. It all works together, and is a single whole unit. In fact, you would be forgiven if you thought of it all as one piece that will get tighter integration as we move forward. Great.

Unless you own an iPhone, iPad, Android phone, or Android tablet, they don’t play well with Microsoft by Microsoft’s design. You can’t have Office on them, you can’t properly integrate them in to the Server 2012 offerings, and they can’t run the scant few Windows 8/WART programs out there. They sure can’t run Halo 4, and will never be a surface, but do have an app selection that dwarfs what Microsoft can offer, not to mention music and video libraries that again are without peer. If you give up your iPhone, iPad, Android phone, or Android tablet, you can be with the 2% of loyal Microsoft customers that have bought all of the offerings and are enjoying an existence free of non-Microsoft products.

Somehow, 98% of the market doesn’t seem to be moved to abandoning their current devices. In fact, you could say just the opposite is happening. Windows 8 sales are withering, and the target market doesn’t seem to want to pay more for less functionality just so they can get an OS that has “modest” sales and no apps. For a good reason. Give up iTunes and their reams of purchased songs, movies, and TV shows? Android or iOS apps that have no equivalent in the Microsoft ecosystem? All for more money and a clunky frustrating interface? What’s not to love? Why would any consumer not want to re-buy all of their libraries so they can move to a Surface?

I’m not sure what exactly it is about Microsoft that Demerjian dislikes so much. As I’ve said before, most of the time when there’s this much negativity towards one platform, that usually means there’s strong favoritism towards another one. Well, it doesn’t look like he’s an Apple fan…Demerjian pretty much hates them too.

While I might normally be amongst those to jump all over Microsoft for screwing something up, in this case I have to disagree with his opinions. I do understand his arguments, and they do make a certain amount of sense. But I’ve mentioned before about my collection of news and opinion clippings blasting the debuts of both the original iPhone and iPad–and how amusing it is to look back at those now, to see how completely wrong they turned out.

I’d place these negative Microsoft comments in much the same category. I do believe there should be concern both from and for Microsoft. But I also think it’s a bit too soon to throw dirt on them yet.

However, just in case, it might be time to take inventory of the digging implements.

(I’m curious–what do you think? Do you believe as Demerjian does, that Microsoft has failed? Or are your feeling just the opposite: that the new Windows 8 and Surface RT are world-beaters? Please share your feelings in the Comments, below.)

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