Microsoft: Are Things Really That Bad?
Microsoft is looking pretty healthy for a ‘dead’ company. Sure, former Microsoft VP Dick Brass essentially buried the company in a New York Times Op-Ed piece today. But remember: Skeptics buried IBM in 1993 and Apple in 1996. Critics thought the HP-Compaq deal was forever doomed. And lots of folks thought Larry Ellison had lost his mind when Oracle started buying up big enterprise software companies. So, what’s the reality at Microsoft?
Alas, The VAR Guy does miss the good old days — covering the birth of Windows 95, Windows NT, Microsoft BackOffice, and a range of applications that largely freed the world from expensive RISC/UNIX systems. More recently, Microsoft has missed the boat — badly — on digital music, Internet search, smart phones… and the list goes on.
But don’t count the software giant out. Windows 7 and Office 2010? Um, those will generate plenty of cash. But the really compelling efforts involve Windows Azure — Microsoft’s cloud platform.
With Azure, Microsoft gets to move forward while leveraging its greatest strength from the past: ISV (independent software vendor) relationships. Closed source and open source ISVs are jumping on the Azure bandwagon. The VAR Guy has a feeling Azure is the real deal.
And there are other signs of success across Microsoft — like SharePoint and Xbox LIVE, as Microsoft’s official reply to Dick Brass points out.
Sure, Microsoft has plenty of cash to help sort out its product and organizational problems. But money won’t solve the biggest problem of all: Media relations. The media generally focuses on insanely successful companies like Apple and Google. Second-best isn’t good enough in winner-take-all media stories. Apparently, strong profits aren’t sexy if they aren’t served on an iPad.
Microsoft has two choices: Start innovating and do something sexy. Or start accepting the fact that it’s okay to be a modern-day IBM — continuing to deliver strong profits without sitting at the center of the IT universe.