Microsoft must emulate Apple and Google in order to better compete: True or false?

As we continue into 2013, one thing in the world of tech is clear: Microsoft’s Windows 8 and its two Surface model computers are all at best only a modest success, and far below what the company had hoped for. It has tried to copy some of the things that both Apple and Google–its arch-rivals–have already figured out on the way to the success of both. Perhaps Microsoft has even more lessons to learn from its chief competition.

When something isn’t right there seem to be no end to suggestions on how best to fix it. A recent PCWorld.com article has suggestions on how Microsoft can improve its standing and actually pose–if not a threat, at least a better presence–to Apple and Google.

Here’s an excerpt:

The winds of change are a-blowin’ through the PC industry, and those winds have left Microsoft clutching at its market share and searching for relevance. Windows 8 is Microsoft’s first major effort to weather the tempest, but no operating system alone is enough. True salvation lies in adopting the strategies of enemies.

Indeed, to shore up its future and compete with Apple and Google, the once infallible software giant must become Apple and Google.

In Forrester Research’s graph of OS market share, the blue part keeps getting smaller.

The need for drastic measures stems from the startling fact that Windows no longer rules the computing world with an iron fist. Sure, it still presides over the desktop; but thanks to the rapid rise of tablets and smartphones, Forrester Research estimates that globally Windows beats at the heart of just 30 percent of all consumer computing devices—a staggering 40 percent drop in just four short years. If it wants to stay relevant in the new normal, Microsoft needs to change something fast.

That “something” doesn’t involve reinventing the wheel (though it has involved reinventing Windows). Instead, Microsoft should take a few pages from the playbooks of its uber-successful rivals.

The article goes on to make some suggestions as to what the company should do. Amongst these include:

  • Remembering that it’s a software company, not just a Windows company.
  • Create better cross-platform software–like Google does with Chrome, for example.
  • Get more deeply involved in engineering and manufacturing its own brand of PCs, the way Apple does, and not rely so heavily on third-party vendor partners.

To better illustrate that last point:

Windows needs heroes. Windows needs shining stars. Simply put, Windows needs Macs—paragons of design that represent the perfect marriage of beautiful hardware and highly functional underlying software.

While it’s pretty clear that Microsoft will never dominate the PC world as it once did, it could still develop a product–something like Apple’s iPad–that can’t be successful matched by others and carves out a niche all its own. Then the company will be able to better compete once again.

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