Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Like Mark Twain, Microsoft's Demise Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

In a recent article by Dan Kimerling on TechCrunch (Microsoft's Real Problem: Facebook is the New Outlook and Other Ways that Redmond is not Listening to Generation Y), it is stated that Microsoft's future looks bleak and that it will remain an afterthought for Gen Yers, as the company simply cannot keep up with the easy-to-use Web 2.0 stylings and digital distribution methods of Google, Apple, Facebook, etc.

These companies offer everything that young consumers need -- mobility, simplicity, and speed -- and more importantly, a true alternative to the MS hegemony. No longer do they have to buy Microsoft simply because it's the only game in town.

To quote the article:

What has really thrown Microsoft off, is that other companies have shown those consumers both most willing to try new technologies and most willing to open their wallets for technology, the consumers of Generation-Y, that they do not need Microsoft. Companies like Facebook, Apple, and Google, have changed the way that young consumers consume, and therefore purchase, technology. And that is a very dangerous position for a software company to be in, especially one that is not known for being nimble on its feet.

To an extent, yes, this is very much true. Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs are all quite popular and useful applications. But will professionals and business users really abandon Outlook and Office for Facebook and LinkedIn? I'm not so sure about that.

How much money does the Facebook business model actually take in? Facebook ads aren't exactly setting the world on fire. Meanwhile, how much money does Microsoft make on sales of Windows, Outlook, Word, Excel, etc. to professionals and businesses? Ballmer knows who butters his bread, and it's not Gen-Y. So why make products with them in mind (especially when so many of them are already hardcore anti-MS to begin with)?

Now, is there room for Microsoft to improve? Certainly. There's a reason I switched to a Mac, after all, and any piece of software can be made better, faster, simpler, and easier to use. Nobody likes to use a program so complicated and packed with so many hidden and useless features that it makes your brain hurt. But I'm sure that Microsoft will be just fine without pandering to the Twitterers of the world.

Now if only they could do something about those utterly ridiculous ads with Gates and Seinfeld ...