Remember that software giant that helped make computers mainstream, thanks to its operating system called Windows? Remember the company that took the market shares of Corel, Lotus and IBM back in the 90s? Remember that browser that we all used to surf the web, you know, the blue E? Internet Explorer, that's right. I'm talking about Microsoft. Brings back memories huh?
Microsoft used to crush their competitors back in the day, but things have changed dramatically over the last few years. A combination of bad decisions, lack of improvement and innovation, and especially, lack of success with everything related to the Cloud has led them to where they are today. This is sad, really sad. Actually, Microsoft still offers some of the most robust and reliable applications on the market, there is not even the shadow of a doubt about this. However, other players have released innovative products that make Microsoft's products look more 1995 than 2010. Microsoft isn't #1 in so many fields, it is such a pity they let their products slip away to that extent.
Just a few examples:
- Hotmail – When Google's Gmail was released in 2004, they offered 1 GB of storage space, with a clean interface and Ajax elements. Microsoft made a move several months later, which was more than sufficient for many people to try out Gmail and finally quit using Hotmail forever.
- Internet Explorer – When Firefox started gaining popularity in 2004, thanks to its performance, tabbed navigation, add-ons and plugins, IE 6 remained the same old browser it had been since the beginning… for 2 more years (IE 7, which offered tabbed navigation, was released in late 2006). Though IE 6 was the most reliable browser in 2004-2006, Firefox (and Opera, for that matter) made IE look pretty much outdated. Opening a new window for every web page soon became old and boring and the lack of customization gave market shares to Firefox, which they kept and still gather to this day.
- Microsoft Office – While Google and OpenOffice offer free alternatives to the Microsoft Office suite, MS keeps selling Office licenses for several hundred Dollars. Not only is it rather expensive, it isn't cloud-friendly at all. There's an Office Live Add-in, which doesn't help much. To this day, we still can't collaborate online using Office 2007, except when using third-party tools. Google offers this for free… The only problem: Microsoft Office is more powerful and reliable. If Microsoft releases Office 2010 Online, for FREE, without any license purchase required, we'll witness a clash of titans and Microsoft is very likely to crush the competition. Otherwise, Microsoft Office will keep fading away, faster and faster, in my humble opinion.
- XBOX 360 – Microsoft's XBOX was a huge success, thanks to the machine itself, which was a monster at that time, hardware-wise. However, the big picture in the gaming console world has changed. The current generation has unleashed a reborn Nintendo with the Wii's revolutionary controller, Sony's Playstation 3 with a Blu-Ray player and what else? Microsoft's XBOX 360, with used to have the outdated HD DVD player, and now has a regular DVD player. It is understandable that the first generation of XBOX 360 was shipped with HD DVD players, as the war of formats was still in progress. However, as soon as the Blu-Ray format won the battle, they could have done something to switch to Blu-Ray, but they didn't. The result: The XBOX isn't #1, once again.
- Windows Mobile – Windows CE, Windows Live Mobile or whatever it is called nowadays has never achieved any success in the smartphone world. The Blackberry, the iPhone and Android are fighting each other in this market. Where's Microsoft? Nowhere, unfortunately. I'm sure they could release something that would skyrocket is they really wanted to… but apparently, they don't.
- Search Engine – Bing, MSN Search, Live, MSN, Windows Live Search, MSN Live… Anyways, you know what I'm referring to? Microsoft never made it in the search engine world, and probably never will, unfortunately. Google is too strong, but other are trying hard to increase their market share (Ask and Yahoo, for instance). Bing is a good attempt, let's face it, no one has seen a single drop of sweat on Google's face yet.
- Windows – Chrome OS is coming soon. I think I can end this point right here, enough said.
A series of bad moves and staleness made Microsoft lose their #1 at so many levels. Have they lost their appetite for domination? Their creativity? What happened?