Microsoft BUILD in Anaheim. It's more interesting Microsoft news than it has been in a long time. Let me explain.
Microsoft is in my view a company that delivers great enterprise solutions and since I left my corporate job my interests shifted away from enterprise solutions into other directions and thus had less attention to what Microsoft is doing. My focus is on the users, the small business and consumer web, the overall consumerization of IT and mobility. These are not the areas where I see Microsoft being very innovative and successful even when they try very hard and have solutions in all these areas, but they often are complex in all aspects, from usasability, deployment and even accessibility of the Miscrosoft organization. This is all very understanding, because Microsoft's DNA is tightly coupled to enterprise solutions that require more complexity than more consumer focused solutions.
Microsoft is the company that gave us a PC on every desk and that has been a great achievement. Together with their hardware partners they completely changed the computer industry to supply cheap commodoty computers that gave the software partners a great desktop platform for building their solutions. However in recent years the desktop platform becomes less important due to the shift towards Software as a Servives solutions consumed from the browser and the extensive growth in moblity and various mobile devices. Microsoft adjusted their business, but haven't been able to show the same dominance and leadership as in the early Personal Computer years.
This weeks preview of Windows 8 is interesting, because it can potentially lead to a new wave of Microsoft dominance and that opportunity is what keeps me following the BUILD news with more interest than usually. I've no interest in Windows 8 on a desktop/laptop, because it will be just more of the same and it's not the platform of the future. Desktop automation is complete and there is no gain in trying to squeeze more productivity out of people that sit at a desk behind a computer. The real opportunity is automating those people that have NO access to a computer and this is where the real opportunity for software vendors currently is. With the emerge of the tablet form factor, 12+ hours of battery life and less weight than a sketchbook there is a way to reach those people that are not behind desks but still deal with procedures and processes. Up until today they are primarily managed on paper, but can easily be replaced by a tablet for every single person.
For this to happen the price needs to get down to say less than 200 € to support business models that charge 10 € a month for using the device over a 2 year period. All Microsoft needs to do to make this a success, is to deliver a tablet operating system that is cheap, energy efficient and supports a wide variety of solutions that we are currently not aware of. In other words, the restrictions on what and how to build those solutions should be minimal. Further they need to encourage their huge hardware eco-system, that is dying for a new growth driver now the PC market is declining, to innovate and do better than ever before. It's not about competing with the iPad, it's about doing things differently that drive new solutions. When there is an abundance of cheap commodity tablets the software eco-system will capture the huge software opportunity of automating those people that are standing with their ankles in the mud each and everyday.
When successful Microsoft does have a chance to dominiate again for another decade. Unfortunately only the future can tell if this really will happen.
What do you think? You agree and give Microsoft still a change or do you consider it already a lost opportunity for Microsoft?