Microsoft’s Lost Decade

1. Here’s Andrew Kim’s proposed re-branding of Microsoft, because if you’re going to be cool and try to be about more than just the Windows OS, then you shouldn’t have a traditional window as your logo. I love the idea of marketing Microsoft as a science-fiction-y company and the reasoning behind this, even if I don’t love the execution.

Regardless, seeing Kim’s work makes you realize how badly Microsoft’s corporate story is. They are the exact opposite of Google and Apple. What comes to mind when you think of Microsoft? Exactly.

2. Horace Dediu perfectly encapsulates the trouble Microsoft is in with Windows. In 1984, PCs outsold the Mac 6-to-1. By 2004, the ratio of Windows PCs to Macs sold peaked at 56-to-1. Today it’s under 20-to-1 and continuing to drop. Incredibly, if you include iOS devices in the conversation, Windows-based PCs only outsell Apple products 2-to-1. You can imagine what this will look like in a year or two as iPhone/iPad sales continue to be healthy and Mac sales continue to surge.

“The wiping out of any platform advantage around Windows will render it vulnerable to direct competition. This is not something it had to worry about before. Windows will have to compete not only for users, but for developer talent, investment by enterprises and the implicit goodwill it has had for more than a decade,” Dediu writes. “It will, most importantly, have a psychological effect. Realizing that Windows is not a hegemony will unleash market forces that nobody can predict.”

3. Keep both of those things in mind as you read this Vanity Fair piece which suggests the company “could serve as a business-school case study on the pitfalls of success.

It’s a fascinating read, if a bit unfair to Microsoft. Nobody, not them, not anyone, could have predicted the disruptive success of Apple’s last decade. It’s not fair to say Microsoft should be blamed for not doing what Apple did, because the truth is nobody has done what Apple has accomplished recently. Microsoft has had success with Windows 7, the Xbox, Kinect, Azure and other enterprise products. And the company seems game to the competing even if they are a bit late in playing when it comes to tablets, phones, etc.

It’s an interesting period for the company and fascinating watching them try to shed the past and stumble awkwardly into its future.

4. As an addendum, Charlie Rose just conducted a great interview with Bill Gates.

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