Why Windows 7 Won’t Turn Microsoft Around

Roughly Drafted has an incredible article about why Windows 7 won’t turn Microsoft around. It’s totally accurate: Microsoft is missing the boat over and over and over again.  If I were in charge of Microsoft, here’s what I’d do:

  1. I’d immediately begin a very public plan to phase out Trident and replace it with Webkit over the next two versions of IE.  I’d blog about it endlessly so everyone knows that while Trident will exist (with extended CSS and HTML 5 support, natch) in IE9, it will be a new, fully Webkit based browser by version 10.
  2. Developers, developers, developers? Start bundling Python and Ruby with Windows to encourage cross platform development.
  3. At the same time, it’s time to release a statement granting the freedom for developers to implement .NET on other platforms.  Fighting Mono in any sense just means more people won’t ever want to touch your tainted tech.
  4. On that note, I’d start looking at free.  It’s time to start giving away Visual Studio.
  5. I’d stop the artificial versioning.  Microsoft actively cripples their products.  They handicap their server OS to not recognize RAM until you shell out cash for a more expensive version.  Look at Citrix, who accomplishes this without the same aftertaste: XenServer is free, no limits.  But certain non-essential features are part of an enterprise package.
  6. The cost of software is destined to approach free.  Office software is too expensive, and it’s why people are seriously looking at Google Apps and other office suites.  We’re all beginning to realize we don’t really need Excel, Outlook, and Word as much as we thought.  Once we can convert our PST files, the rest is just getting used to an alternative.

We’re witnessing the collapse of a major entity, I think, and it may take decades, but you can see the cracks now.  Zune doesn’t make money.  X-Box doesn’t make money.  Bing is never going to take any significant traffic from Google.  Windows isn’t generating the revenue it used to.  IE is less important than ever.  Office is finding its way onto fewer and fewer computers.  Linux is coming into its own.  Netbooks will almost certainly, in time, be owned by Chrome or something like it.  Windows Mobile is stale and unpopular on phones today with no suggestion that it will ever be able to compete with iPhone OS, Android, WebOS, or Blackberry OS.

Windows 7 is shaping up nicely; my department at work is enjoying our testing and can’t wait to deploy it.  But that doesn’t mean we’ll make a push to deploy it, we’ll just let it leak in.  And so will many others, most likely.

If you look around carefully, you’ll see the tectonic plates of technology shifting, as slowly as they always have, but as surely as they’ve ever been . Don’t miss it: what will one day be an exciting history is unfolding before us.

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