When did Microsoft lose it’s Mojo?

I think it would be hard to argue that Microsoft has been on a downward spiral for the last decade. But what was it that sent them into these dark times? Sure, they lost the case against the DOJ and have been slapped on the hand over Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player, but their decline goes way beyond that.

If you recall, Windows 2000 and Windows XP were well received Operating Systems.

The Xbox and the Xbox 360 have both been well received, even though they’ve had plenty of hardware issues. Don’t act like that red ring of death doesn’t exist.

Office 2003 and 2007 went over well with customers.

Windows 2000 Server had some growing pains, but Windows 2003 really pulled things together.

Exchange 2000 had some issues, but again, 2003 pulled it together.

Microsoft even had a big game division. I seem to recall AoE, RoR and Halo being huge sellers.

It’s not like Microsoft isn’t making money (despite what that stock price looks like), but quite honestly in the past 5 or more years they can’t seem to do anything right.

Even though Bing is supposedly making headway, Microsoft sucks at search and how much has this project cost? They were willing to spend how much on ailing Yahoo!?

The MS Mobile initiative is a joke. They keep trying and failing to get a useful mobile product in to the market. How much did the Kin cost? How much have they invested in Phone 7?

Some people say the Zune is a wonderous device. Personally, I don’t know anyone who has a Zune (other than my old Microsoft buddies). So who has one of these? Just on the surface this thing doesn’t hold a candle to the iPhone/iPod in terms of users and saturation. I’m not saying the device is bad, I don’t know anything about it. And that’s the point, I don’t know anything about it because no one I know has one…

I don’t think we even need to talk about the complete cock-up Microsoft has made of both the Tablet and Netbook markets. I’m not sure they even understand what these devices are really for.

What the hell happened to the game studio? What were you thinking with that?

We’ll skip over the fiasco that is Windows Vista, it’s been done to death and Vista really didn’t deserve the ass kicking it got in the press.

Is anyone paying attention to Microsoft’s cloud computing initiative? Does anyone care?

And there’s dozens more examples of Microsoft missing the boat on products and initiatives that seemed obvious to everyone else. If you recall back in very late 90’s, we all thought Apple was going to collapse and go under. They were barely producing any software and machine sales were in the toilet. It was hard to even consider them a competitor to Microsoft. And I firmly believe that couple hundred million Microsoft handed over kept that company going.

But here we are 10 years later and Apple has shocked an amazed us all. Not only did they climb out of the cellar but they have become as powerful, if not more so than Microsoft. And they have assets that actually exceed their old rival. How the hell did that happen?

Apple has had plenty of missteps as well, but, they have advanced far beyond what Microsoft has been able to do in the same time. Apple has conquered hardware, mobile gaming, media, tablets and commercial TV/movie programming. Regardless of whether you like iTunes or not, it’s an impressive piece of technology and offers content far beyond any competitors offer including Microsoft or Amazon. Amazon has books and movies as well as TV episodes, so they’re pretty close. But they have no mobile solution and there is no game/app software. So quite frankly, they’re the closest competitor.

Now is this simply a matter of Apple didn’t dominate any markets so they had no limits on growth where Microsoft had already dominated all their territories and now have no where to go? I don’t think so. I think Microsoft has dozens of new avenues to explore, they just aren’t getting it right. MSNBC was their media attempt and I can’t say that has really turned into anything. Microsoft doesn’t have their own content delivery network. There is the "Media Guide" within Windows Media Player, but come on, that’s a piece of junk. That just plays clips and pulls a feed from MSNBC, it’s not like I could actually buy a movie or a CD with that. Basically it’s useless.

Truth of the matter is, Microsoft has plenty of new spaces they can work their way into, they just keep failing at it. So far, tablets have been a fail. Streaming content has been a fail. Mobile has been a fail. Cloud computing is going no where. Office 2010 is showing signs of stress. And IE is struggling to stay relevant.

Microsoft is still making money, but they aren’t making it into new markets. So who’s to blame for that? Is Steve Ballmer just not up to the task? Has Microsoft as a company burned too many bridges for people to want to work with them anymore? Does Microsoft not have the brain power to pull of their latest projects like they used to? Are smart minds going to other companies like Google and Apple?

In years past it was Microsoft who set a direction for the industry to follow. They had a major hand in creating and bringing technology to the masses. But now it seems that Apple and Google have taken over the reigns and Microsoft is just sitting on the sidelines watching.

Where did their mojo go?

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