- Satya Nadella has introduced a friendlier face to Microsoft.
- After the PR push of a softer and gentler Microsoft, is it ok to hate Microsoft once again?
Steve Ballmer can become widely lampooned as the head of Microsoft. An out of touch 100% sales yokel who would probably classify as one of the most overcompensate men per IQ point this side of anyone in the Saudi Royal Family. Steve Ballmer was sidelined and becoming the owner of the LA Clippers, and the New Hope for Satya Nadella became the CEO of Microsoft in Feb 2014.
What Has Happened Since Satya Nadella
Satya Nadell’s assention marked an opportunity for Microsoft to freshen up their image.
If we look at some of Micrsoft’s nonlegacy offerings we can see the following:
- BING: A search engine that has captured 20% of the search engine market.
- Edge: An attempt to recapture some of the positions in browsers that it lost with the rapid loss of market share to Google Chrome on the part of Internet Explorer. Has been ineffective in doing this.
- SQLServer: An undifferentiated Oracle RDDMS copy, but one that has its adherents.
- XBox: A reasonably successful gaming console, but one that has not contributed much to Microsoft’s profits.
- Windows Mobile: A large failure for Microsoft that has not revived since Nadella took the helm.
- Windows Surface: After showing promise, sales have significantly declined and Microsoft’s commitment to it seems to be waning. Microsoft is probably not acculturated to the lower profits in the hardware space.
- Sharepoint: Went from being probably the worst content management systems to a decent one in the past few years. But there is little doubt that Sharepoint has increased IT project failures (and other project failures) since its inception. Is primarily sold because it is thrown in with other products. That is, it exists because of Microsoft’s other offerings.
- Azure: One of the few bright spots in Microsoft’s non-core offerings. Along with AWS, Azure is a main player taking business away from stodgy data center operators like IBM and CSC, in addition to growing the market for PaaS. However, even within Microsoft, Azure is seen as a loss leader, and a way to keep Microsoft relevant.
- Dynamics: A lagging ERP system that is held in place primarily due to Microsoft’s size.
- LinkedIn: An acquisition that was a head scratcher. First, it is as an acquisition that should not have been allowed by the FTC. The reason is that LinkedIn contains network information for companies that Microsoft competes with. This means that Microsoft can review the previous and current messages of all people that work for say Oracle. This would give Microsoft a leg up in competing with Oracle and other competitors. Secondly, LinkedIn has been an active publishing platform since 2014. And what if anti-Microsoft articles are written, will Microsoft censor them? For instance, could I publish this article on LindedIn without worrying about my membership being compromised? Beyond that, Microsoft now controls how much an article is sent in notifications to your contacts. Microsoft could easily implement a review process for articles that contain the word Microsoft and also reduce the exposure of authors who are known to write unflattering articles about Microsoft and Microsoft products. Microsoft had another plan to leverage LinkedIn. “Microsoft is working to integrate LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Dynamics 365 in an effort to make sales employees more effective by allowing them to tap into professional networks and relationships, “giving them the ability to improve their pipeline.” This will not work and seems like Microsoft stretching to come up with some reason to sell people on why the LinkedIn acquisition is a good thing. Since Microsoft’s acquisition, LinkedIn has declined in terms of its usage. Microsoft rolled out a major change which negatively affected the publication on LinkedIn. But overall, Microsoft has not seemed to leverage the LinkedIn purchase beyond possibly spying on its competitor’s messages.
Same Old Microsoft
Around three-quarters of Microsoft’s profits come from the two fabulously successful products on which the company was built: the Windows operating system, which essentially makes personal computers run, and Office, the suite of applications that includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. – Vanity Fair
So let us contemplate that for a moment. Three-quarters of Microsoft’s profits come from Windows and the Office Suite. And these are applications that were mostly the same 10 years ago. Microsoft has for decades been attempting to grow out of its typecasting and its reliance on these products, however, it can’t find very much success elsewhere. Microsoft, due to its financial resources, has great sway over the IT media apparatus. They pay off journalists and media entities to write positive stories about their new introductions, which is why it constantly seems as if Microsoft has some new and sexy product. Yet, as the product becomes generally used, the sales begin to nosedive and the process begins anew with another new product introduction.
And for this contribution, Microsoft pulls in over $100 billion in revenue per year? Part of this evidently was the effect of Ballmer.
“Steve will never get the credit he’s due,” a former executive says. “He was brilliant—brilliant—in finding ways to harvest more money from Windows and Office.” – Vanity Fair
That is right, Ballmer was great at extracting more for Windows and Office, but not at actually improving the value to the customer. It makes you wonder what the 114,000 employees that work at Microsoft actually do on a daily basis. How much work is it actually to simply refresh Windows and Office every few years and then maintain the rest of the Microsoft stable of low value-added applications?
What if Microsoft Were Disbanded?
Aside from pulling out $100 billion a year from the global economy, there is no real reason for Microsoft to continue to exist. They do provide 114,000 jobs, but it’s difficult to see how real most of these jobs are as Microsoft does not do very much but chase its own tail in an infinite loop. Secondly, Microsoft routinely fails in the new businesses that it enters. This indicates that Microsoft only really came up with a few marketable products, and for decades has been using that monopoly to fund a series of poor investment decisions. What this means is that Microsoft is a highly dissipative entity. In this way, the $100 billion that Microsoft receives every year can be seen as a tax which is paid on inventions and development that was already paid for long ago. How much does it really cost to develop Windows, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel and Outlook? Is it not time that these applications simply be open-sourced? Similar suites like OpenOffice are already open-source suites.
We could make Windows and Office open source projects. Companies could arise that simply are paid to provide support, not that Microsoft provides much support for these products currently. Most companies that run these applications support them with their own internal IT department. Individuals figure out Microsoft’s Office and Windows OS by themselves without much support from Microsoft anyway.
Overall, if Microsoft were disbanded, it would not only return a great deal of money to the economy, but it would allow companies to use that money to better effect, and the spread money over other actually innovative applications, and fund vendors that are starved of income by companies like Microsoft and SAP.
Another benefit of disbanding Microsoft would be the ability to promote people getting off of Windows and on to better alternatives.
The Inefficiency of Microsoft Windows
With virtually unlimited resources and decades to do it, Microsoft has still not been able to create a productive operating system. One of the tricks to my personal productivity has been that I never touch a Windows machine unless I absolutely have to. I have two Windows laptops for work, and at one point I set them up at home in different rooms thinking I could leverage them for simple stuff. However, after a month of doing this, I realized that even for simple stuff Windows has a way of sucking the productivity out of you. I realized that I needed to place my two Windows laptops into a box, and buy another Mac. I then in a way instituted a rule that I would not touch the Windows laptops unless there was a specific reason to do so. Such as a need to get into SAP, or to use some of the applications that I have that only run on Windows. Interestingly, many people that use Windows don’t even know how much they lose productivity, but it is a drag on the productivity of countries worldwide. And secondly, Windows is not improving. Windows was probably at its more productive in Windows 7, and every new introduction since then has just been a decline in productivity.
Microsoft Post Satya Nadella
The story post-Satya Nadella is the same as the story pre-Satya Nadella. Microsoft is a monopoly vendor that gets most of its profits from just Windows and Office. This monopoly fails at most things that it tries, and the fact that Satya Nadella is at its head does not make much of a difference. Satya Nadella has had over three years to make changes at Microsoft. And it’s not clear that anything has changed. The honeymoon period is over and now it seems time to face facts that there is really very little interesting going on at Microsoft.
It is time to hate Microsoft again. Satya Nadella was just a new face on the same old story. Satya Nadella is a very good presenter and interviews well. But the results don’t paint a picture of optimism for Microsoft. Microsoft will continue to extract its money from the economy. But the continued financial success of Microsoft shows how ludicrous the protections that are provided to a monopoly vendor actually can be.