Tuesday, October 6, 2015

MSFT Lowers Expectations and Declares Victory

Microsoft's PR flaks must be encouraging the CEO to get in the news more, and he has been placed in two recent, high visibility stories.  In one, there is a rambling, philosophical interview about long-time insider, CEO Satya Nadella being, in fact, an "outsider" at Microsoft.  There seems to be little evidence so far that (a) this is true, or (b) that it would be making a difference to making this behemoth more nimble, responsive to consumers, and consistently innovative.

In 2014, we wrote,
"The Nokia acquisition could easily become this company's Waterloo.  Value creation at Microsoft won't happen with the Ballmer-created organizational rabbit warren, bloated cost structure, and dysfunctional culture that we've written about in our most widely read posts."
Well, Steve Ballmer has gone to play with new toys, including basketballs.  Microsoft wrote off 80% of the the value of the Nokia acquisition, according to the WSJ; this was inevitable, as we wrote when the Windows Phone forecast of 15% market share was first given.

Now, CEO Satya Nadella has pared back the plans for new Windows Phone launches to what looks like a very singular offering for corporate users.  So that leaves me, an early adopter, and a somewhat satisfied user of the first Nokia Cyan an orphan.  Typical Microsoft.

My first experience with Windows 10, which was okayed for my aging but perfectly functioning Windows 7 laptop, was tremendously dissatisfying. Windows 10 comes with bloated, self-serving products like Microsoft Edge, and it doesn't seem to work well with the free version of Outlook Live. My local copy of Outlook from Office 2013 froze up, crashed, and lost many of my contacts.

Of course, the Waterloo analogy is a bit overwrought, as this company can financially slough off this economic fiasco.  However, this company badly needs a cultural evangelists inside the company that can speak for the consumers, not the corporations.  Inside Apple, that person happened to be Steve Jobs at the top, and throughout the organization it was populated with people obsessed with the user experience and feedback.

Windows is really betting the farm on Windows 10, and Waterloo may be down the road apiece unless things really change.  I hope that the CEO gets a machete and hacks away at the culture inside Microsoft that could have allowed the Windows Phone to be relegated to a meaningless share of the mobile phone market.

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