Lack of a Tablet (and Urgency) Costing Microsoft Big Time

Somebody out there has been doing math. We've heard about how the complete lack of a tablet has hurt Microsoft's mind share and maybe even its market share, but now some pundit out there says that it's hurting Microsoft's bottom line, too.

To the tune of $1 billion, no less. At least that's what one columnist over in the United Kingdom figures, old bean, based on some number crunching and analysts' estimates. And maybe it's accurate. Regardless, it only serves to further illustrate how badly Microsoft has screwed up this tablet thing.

And where is the Microsoft we once knew? The company that nearly missed the Web and responded by destroying Netscape? The company that cornered the market for operating systems despite not actually inventing much of what would become the OS? The company that blew out Unix and kept Linux on the fringes? Where is the Microsoft that reacted to the market with urgency, swiftness and debilitating viciousness when it sensed that it might be losing its utter domination of a market it wanted to own?

This Microsoft is different -- big, slow, almost complacent in the face of mounting and genuinely threatening competition. This doesn't feel like a kinder, gentler Microsoft. It feels like an aging, darn near bumbling Microsoft, particularly when it comes to responding to competition in consumer-based product areas. It's just strange, and we can't put our finger on why it's happening...but it is.

Are we overreacting? Send your thoughts to [email protected]

Posted by Lee Pender on March 09, 2011 at 11:57 AM5 comments


Patch Tuesday Light

It was pretty light lifting this month, patchly speaking. There was only one critical fix and only three altogether.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 08, 2011 at 11:57 AM0 comments


Windows Phone 7 Actually Manages To Lose Market Share

We couldn't make this stuff up. Nobody could. Despite the savior of Microsoft's mobile "strategy" appearing not to be a complete disaster (as we thought it would be), Windows Phone 7 actually lost market share for Microsoft at the end of last year.

Yes, that's right. The knight in shining armor that rode in on its mighty steed and relegated the old Windows Mobile platform to the scrap heap of history turned out to be more of a peasant tottering around on a mule. The latest numbers from comScore, the organization of the atrociously capitalized name that tracks these sorts of things, indicate that Microsoft's market share has fallen since Windows Phone 7 hit devices last fall.

OK, now for the requisite caveats. Windows Phone 7 only hit the market in late October in Europe and in early November in the United States. Some of the time period in comScore's January 2011 numbers includes the old Windows Mobile era, then. And, to be fair, Windows Phone 7 is brand-new. Said Microsoft official Achim Berg of the share numbers:

"We introduced a new platform with Windows Phone 7, and when you do that it takes time to educate partners and consumers on what you're delivering, and drive awareness and interest in your new offering. We're comfortable with where we are, and we are here for the long run; Windows Phone 7 is just the beginning."

Yeah, OK, fine. But really, losing market share right out of the gate? With all the press coverage and the TV ads and whatnot? It's not exactly building momentum, is it? One wonders whether Stephen Elop, former Microsoft executive and now CEO of Nokia (yes, it's still in business) is reconsidering his decision to stiff-arm Google and instead partner with Microsoft and Windows Phone 7. (Actually, he might not be, given that Microsoft is apparently forking over $1 billion to Nokia as part of the deal.)

Up at the top of the standings, Google's Android platform took over at No. 1 for the first time, displacing RIM and the BlackBerry mobile OS. Down in third place is Apple, which, despite the hype the iPhone constantly gets, boasts "only" about 25 percent market share. Microsoft isn't even really an also-ran at this point, though, as its 8 percent share (down from 9.7 percent in the pre-WP7 era) has it much closer to Palm than to third-place Apple.

We're not sure what -- if anything -- is wrong with Windows Phone 7, but technology moves quickly, especially in the mobile world. Android has rocketed up the market-share table over the last few years. If Windows Phone 7 is going to do the same thing, it's going to have to do it from a big hole that it has dug itself in its first few months of existence. We can't really see why users would adopt Microsoft's mobile OS en masse, so low market share might be a continuing condition. But falling market share? That's just embarrassing -- and borderline unbelievable.

What's your take on Windows Phone 7? Have you considered buying a WP7 device? Have your say at [email protected]

Posted by Lee Pender on March 07, 2011 at 11:57 AM13 comments


Microsoft Does Its Best To Kill off IE 6

Microsoft really, really, really doesn't want you to use Internet Explorer 6 anymore. Unlike Windows Phone 7, IE 6 actually has double-digit market share, but Microsoft wants to get that number down to zero. Standing in the way of that happening is the fact that lots of applications both internal and external at organizations run only on IE 6. We have a suggestion, though: Just kill IE altogether. Really. In our experience, it's the slowest, clunkiest browser around. Firefox and Chrome have both been better for us. Not sayin'...just sayin'.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 07, 2011 at 11:57 AM6 comments


Exploring the Execudus in Redmond

That sound you hear is your editor tooting his own horn. OK, not really, but a recent Redmond magazine cover story on the recent executive exodus from Microsoft did come out pretty well, if we do say so ourselves. The curious can click here.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 06, 2011 at 11:57 AM0 comments


Microsoft Considers Facebook Lawsuit

Evidently somebody in Redmond didn't "Like" Facebook's recent poaching of a Microsoft advertising executive, Carolyn Everson. Microsoft is now considering taking legal action to keep Everson in Redmond -- or, at least, away from Mark Zuckerberg (who was born in 1984; remind me again how that's even possible).

We always wonder what the endgame is in situations like this. Obviously, Microsoft wants to protect whatever institutional knowledge Everson has about the company's advertising strategy (if there is one), but, really, what's the point of tying all of this up in court? Facebook is a Microsoft partner; Microsoft has invested in Facebook. Isn't there a friendlier way to settle all this? Then again, if this leads to Pirates of Silicon Valley meets The Social Network, maybe we should all just sit back and enjoy the show.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 03, 2011 at 11:57 AM0 comments


Microsoft Buries the Sidekick Next to the Kin

It took Windows 7 to make Microsoft users forget about Vista, but it's taking Microsoft's mobile offerings to make Vista actually look pretty good.

This week, T-Mobile -- oh, and Microsoft, of course -- killed off the Sidekick, the forlorn phone running on Microsoft's Danger data service that suffered a famous crash a couple of years ago. Somebody at Microsoft is obviously trying to make the Sidekick's euthanasia look like some sort of mutual T-Mobile-Microsoft decision, but we're guessing that T-Mobile coldly pulled the trigger while Microsoft looked away and flinched, a tear of regret running down its ashen cheek.

Replacing the Danger Sidekick will be another phone called Sidekick -- seriously, is that name really going to survive? -- which will run on...Google's Android operating system. Reading between the lines (or just plain reading the lines in our RCPmag.com story), we get the strong impression that T-Mobile isn't exactly looking forward to working with Microsoft again in the mobile space. 

Well, who would want to? After the Kin debacle and now the death of Danger (was it the next of Kin before its demise, or vice versa?), Windows Phone 7 would have to be a massive blockbuster to bowl carriers over enough for them to sink massive investment into Microsoft's mobile efforts. A decent OS WP7 seems to be; a blockbuster it is not.

Hey, at least Windows Phone 7 is alive, which is more than we can say for Microsoft's other mobile efforts. And it appears to have a bit of staying power. But it seems as though everything Microsoft does in the mobile space is one step forward and two steps back. Or, in this case, one product living and two dead.

What's your take on Microsoft's mobile strategy? Send it to [email protected]

Posted by Lee Pender on March 03, 2011 at 11:57 AM1 comments


Windows Phone 7 Update Goes Wrong

Finally! This is the kind of news we'd been expecting from Microsoft's forlorn mobile division. Things had been going entirely too well for Windows Phone 7, relatively speaking...until this week.

This week, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 updates turned some Samsung phones into even more useless hunks of plastic than they already were. Apparently, that's called "bricking" phones, which means that Microsoft should probably hire Troy Aikman as its next spokesperson. (If you don't get that mild scintilla of humor, check this out.)

Microsoft has pulled the update, but to be fair this whole thing might not be Microsoft's fault. Your editor's own personal experience with Samsung technologies has not always been stellar, so we're not ready to place all the blame for this problem on Redmond.

And, in the grand scheme of things, this snafu, no matter who is at fault, isn't the end of the world. In fact, it's not even serious enough to pack a comic punch, which is our main source of disappointment with this story.

We've been hoping for a while that Windows Phone 7 would finally take up Vista's mantle as Most Unintentionally Hilarious Microsoft technology, but the mobile OS will have to do better than this if it really wants to earn derision from RCPU. In fact, in a more news-packed week, we wouldn't have written about this at all. It's probably a good thing, then, that this is the last RCPU of the week. At least we avoided the obligatory Pink Floyd "The Wall" joke.

Have a take on Windows Phone 7? Send it to lpende[email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on February 25, 2011 at 11:57 AM7 comments


HP Hits the Skids

Leo Apotheker, the new HP CEO whose name means "pharmacist" in German, hasn't quite come up with the right prescription for his company. HP did OK earnings-wise this week but disappointed investors big time with forecasts for slow growth, which caused HP stock to slide in midweek. Get back to mixing those potions, Leo.

Posted by Lee Pender on February 24, 2011 at 11:57 AM0 comments


Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 Out

Why have just one point when you can have multi? The evaluation copy of Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 is ready for download.

Posted by Lee Pender on February 24, 2011 at 11:57 AM0 comments


Windows 7 SP1 Available

Those of you who aren't MSDN or TechNet subscribers can go get Windows 7 SP1 for yourselves now. The big adds are mainly centered around desktop virtualization, so give it a whirl and see where it lands. Or something.

Posted by Lee Pender on February 23, 2011 at 11:57 AM0 comments


Google Launches Apps Certification Program

This cloud stuff is here to stay, and so is Google. As if you didn't know that already, Google reiterated its presence in IT today with the announcement of the Google Apps Certification Program.

There's something about a certification program that makes an IT alternative seem legitimate. Not that Apps (or the cloud in general) wasn't before today, but it really feels like a viable option for IT with a certification program in place.

Of course, the program isn't really for IT customers -- it's mostly for partners. Yes, Google Apps has a growing reseller program, and participants come from all sorts of practice backgrounds, including Microsoft. As is the case with the Microsoft certification system, diploma-toting Google partners will be able to separate themselves from their competitors and gain some cloud credibility in the IT landscape.

"Both our customers and our partners have been seeking opportunities to differentiate themselves," Stephen Cho, director of Google Apps Channels at Google, told RCPU in a phone chat Tuesday afternoon. "Customers want to have an assurance of the expertise and competence of partners they might engage. [For partners], it shows a depth in the technology."

From where we're sitting, certification also lends a sense of added stability to the whole notion of IT departments moving key functions into the cloud. There's still some trepidation about Software as a Service in the enterprise despite the model's fairly rapid growth, but having another major player (other than Microsoft) provide a certificate of competence to partners has to be reassuring for IT folks who might otherwise wonder what they're getting into with all this cloud stuff.

The first Google certification, Google Apps Certified Deployment Specialist, is available to partners and IT professionals as of today. There are more details about it here. More elements of the program are forthcoming, Cho said. They will include sales, support, developer skills and advanced deployment skills, he said.

"As the product gets broader, our technical expertise will also get broader," Cho said. And Microsoft partners are more than welcome to check out what's going on in Google's cloud.

Have you worked with Google Apps? Does a certification program make the notion more appealing? Why or why not? Send your thoughts to [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on February 23, 2011 at 11:57 AM0 comments