Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 7th Dec 2013 00:55 UTC
Microsoft

"It's pretty much a brick," says Pawn Stars' Rick Harrison as he rejects a Samsung Chromebook brought in by an actor playing a customer. Microsoft really doesn't want you buying this thing.

But why? Just how big of a threat are Chromebooks, Google's oft-ridiculed web-only laptops, to Microsoft's core business?

I'm puzzled too. It doesn't seem like Chromebooks are that big of a threat - why create terrible advertisements that only provide Google with free publicity?

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Microsoft are just scared
by Tony Swash on Sat 7th Dec 2013 12:00 UTC
Tony Swash
Member since:
2009-08-22

Microsoft are just scared in general. Microsoft spent years building a super defensive, and for a long time very effective, defensive business strategy designed to protect Window's position on the desktop and Office's role at work.

Twenty years of defensive culture about their most important products bred a deeply defensive corporate culture.

Then in a shockingly short time all that defensive work was rendered almost irrelevant, Microsoft were quite suddenly out flanked and now find themselves in the utterly alien position of playing desperate catch up in the fasted growing and arguably most important tech markets.

It's like some who has always believed in imaginary conspiracies suddenly falling prey to a real conspiracy, their paranoia has exploded.

It must be a deeply disorientating and worrisome time at MS, the current CEO is a lame duck, no new CEO has been anointed and a company built on corporate career ladders and fiefdoms is turning its organisational structure upside down.

And the cash cow products are ailing.

No wonder they are worried.

Reply Score: 13

RE: Microsoft are just scared
by sb56637 on Sat 7th Dec 2013 13:47 in reply to "Microsoft are just scared"
sb56637 Member since:
2006-05-11

Microsoft are just scared in general. Microsoft spent years building a super defensive, and for a long time very effective, defensive business strategy designed to protect Window's position on the desktop and Office's role at work. [...] Then in a shockingly short time all that defensive work was rendered almost irrelevant


Hmmm, interesting point. But do you really think that Microsoft's dominance on the traditional desktop and school and business use is actually in jeopardy? I'm not arguing, I'm just genuinely not sure. I would be the first to rejoice if the desktop/business computing market became more diversified, but I don't see Windows / Office really fading in the near future.

Reply Parent Score: 4

Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

I don't think either is going anywhere anytime soon. What we're seeing at Microsoft is an interesting thing though, Microsoft's service orientation inevitably will make them more platform agnostic.

Xbox Music/Video launched on multiple platforms
Skype on multiple platforms
Office on multiple platforms
.NET Framework licensing restrictions removed for Mono in many libraries
Outlook on multiple platforms

Microsoft's entire Azure stack including the SDK are cross platform. Hell, there's a node.js VS plugin. By Microsoft.

Hell hasn't frozen over, Microsoft is going head first into services and its something to take note of because they are a very tenacious competitor.

Also the tunnel vision that caused them to miss the mobile boat isn't guaranteed to be there come the next disruption. They're already well positioned in the living room and in hybrids.

What happens once the money train dries up in mobile phones like it did for PCs? Who will have the most diversified business still standing?

Reply Parent Score: 4

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

but I don't see Windows / Office really fading in the near future.


I'm sure someone said the same about WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3 once.

Reply Parent Score: 8

TechGeek Member since:
2006-01-14

"Microsoft are just scared in general. Microsoft spent years building a super defensive, and for a long time very effective, defensive business strategy designed to protect Window's position on the desktop and Office's role at work. [...] Then in a shockingly short time all that defensive work was rendered almost irrelevant


Hmmm, interesting point. But do you really think that Microsoft's dominance on the traditional desktop and school and business use is actually in jeopardy? I'm not arguing, I'm just genuinely not sure. I would be the first to rejoice if the desktop/business computing market became more diversified, but I don't see Windows / Office really fading in the near future.
"

I didnt think much about it either until recently, when I saw pushes for schools to start putting Raspberry Pi's in their classrooms. The education system is broken in many places and they are looking for things like Linux and new teaching technologies as a way of bolstering their offerings.

Reply Parent Score: 4

benytocamela Member since:
2013-05-16

One of the problem with reducing something as complex as a giant corporation like Microsoft down to a soup opera, is that one runs the risk of missing the forest from the trees. Because you're only focusing on an arbitrary subset of the company.

If you look at it from a more quantitativeish metric like profitability, a different image emerges. Because as it stands MS is still one of the most profitable operations in the world. And at the end of the day that's what dictates success for a capitalist public corporation.

And I say this as a person who tends to have little use for Microsoft's products or technologies.

Reply Parent Score: 3

Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

One of the problem with reducing something as complex as a giant corporation like Microsoft down to a soup opera, is that one runs the risk of missing the forest from the trees. Because you're only focusing on an arbitrary subset of the company.

If you look at it from a more quantitativeish metric like profitability, a different image emerges. Because as it stands MS is still one of the most profitable operations in the world. And at the end of the day that's what dictates success for a capitalist public corporation.

And I say this as a person who tends to have little use for Microsoft's products or technologies.


I do think the long term blend of corporate culture and business strategy shapes a corporations decisions over time. There are reasons Windows 8 is as it is and it has almost nothing to do with what Microsoft's customers actually wanted. Windows 8 is a defensive response to the rise of tablets, it is an attempt to defend Windows rather than, say, an attempt to build a great tablet OS and experience for the customer.

It is true that at the moment, and probably into the medium term, Microsoft remain very profitable and very large, but they must see the same trends we can. The centre of gravity of personal computing is shifting to mobile devices (and MS had almost no presence in mobile devices), software prices and margins are declining across the board (and MS makes most of it's money from software) and PCs sales seem stuck in a long term pattern of decline (and MS makes most of it's money from PC related products). So any prudent manager at the top of Microsoft must be concerned and they clearly are.

Until comparatively recently the PC and Windows was utterly hegemonic in the world of personal computing, to all intents and purposes there was no alternative to Wintel products. As a result Microsoft was very powerful, it could set the agenda for the tech world, it could squash things it didn't like and promote things it liked. For almost two decades Microsoft was feared and it's power was respected by all. Now in a space of a few years all of that has gone. Microsoft is not powerful anymore, it does not set the agenda, it is ignored by many large tech players, it is no longer feared by anyone (except by some of the almost dead PC OEMs).

This is a new and deeply unnerving world that Microsoft finds itself in and its super sensitive response to things like Chromebooks is a sign of it's deep corporate anxiety.

Reply Parent Score: 3