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Microsoft just doesn't get the consumer market — and that could be a fatal flaw

Microsoft has missed several categories that have driven personal computing forward. If the company had missed one, perhaps two that lack of foresight could be labeled an anomaly.

Sadly, the number of categories now defining personal computing where Microsoft's either absent or weakly represented suggests a deficit inherent to the company's culture rather than isolated incidents of poor decision-making.

In a candid talk titled Courageous Design Microsoft's General Manager of Design, Research and Product Incubation, Jon Friedman, discussed several products Microsoft killed. The SPOT (Smart Personal Object Technology) Watch, Microsoft Kin, Ultramobile PCs and Microsoft Courier were forward-looking devices Friedman highlighted. Windows phone, Zune, and Groove join these as products Microsoft let flounder in the increasingly important consumer space now driving personal computing's evolution.

Root of the problem

Microsoft's success is built on the enterprise. Even Windows' and Office's consumer successes are derivatives of that enterprise momentum. Consumers wanted the same productivity tools at home that they used at work. This made "putting a PC in every home" easy for Microsoft since there were few alternatives to Windows and Office.

Consequently, Microsoft developed enterprise-focused practices while hoping for "passive consumer trickle down" akin to what drove Windows and Office success. Lack of aggressive consumer focus (while serving the enterprise) is a major weakness, however, in the consumer-driven environment which now has many options.

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's ridicule of the iPhone in 2007, while boasting about Microsoft's (now doomed) business-focused Windows phones, demonstrated Microsoft's cultural flaw. Consumer-focused smartphones ultimately transformed personal computing and led to more missed opportunities for Microsoft. For instance, the smartphone-related digital assistant and ambient computing markets evolved differently than Microsoft expected, according to the company's Corporate Vice President for Cortana Javier Soltero.

Microsoft's 'side project' attitude to consumer products

Though Microsoft's productivity tools like Office and Surface have professional and personal value, its pre-One Microsoft legacy of division negatively impacts its consumer success. Friedman shared how Microsoft treated innovative products as poorly supported side projects.

SPOT Watch

SPOT was an intelligent home and consumer electronics initiative which included a smartwatch. Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates referenced it as a computer on every wrist-top. In a world of connected devices and wearables, Friedman said SPOT was a side project Microsoft killed too soon.

Ultramobile PCs

In 2006, Friedman conceptualized a thin, seven- to 10-inch, always-connected Ultramobile PC with instant on, great battery and a $400 price. He requested 300 people and two years to build it. Microsoft gave him 20 people and six months. A thick, $1,000 device with a poor UI was the failed result of yet another "side project."

Kin and phone troubles

Microsoft Kin was a social, cloud-focused phone. Friedman said Windows phone was pivoting and neither it nor Kin had clear strategies. Kin was killed in favor of Windows phone because Microsoft needed a platform for developers to focus on. Ironically, lack of developers contributed to Windows phone's failure.

Ex-Microsoft employees share why Windows phone failed

Courier

Microsoft's Courier digital journal with a custom OS bridged the divide between the digital and analog, said Friedman. He conceded the project was ahead of its time, but the approach was off-kilter and it was another side project Microsoft was playing with that didn't have clear developer and platform stories.

Interestingly, Courier's target market was, as Microsoft's rumored "Project Andromeda" is, creatives, or lateral thinkers. Or people like mathematicians, marketing managers and teachers who think things through in an analog way (versus an ordered linear fashion) and share those thoughts with others to build on.

Why Microsoft may think the market's ready for a digital journal

Image credit: David Breyer

Image credit: David Breyer

Patents and rumors of Microsoft's folding Andromeda device suggest the company is transitioning from a phone-focus to an ultramobile PC digital journal strategy. Here's why Microsoft may think the market's ready:

  • Microsoft made inking and cloud-based collaboration central to Windows and its device family strategy. Whiteboard, Surface, Teams and more create an environment that supports and facilitates collaborative lateral thinking, the target activity for digital journals.
  • Microsoft's Progressive Web Apps (PWA) investment addresses (in part) the developer barrier.
  • Windows on ARM "resurrected" always connected, instant-on and greater battery life, attributes of Friedman's failed Ultramobile PC. Microsoft is presumably merging those features with Courier's folding digital notepad concept and eSIM for Project Andromeda. With Windows Core OS, rather than Courier's custom OS, Microsoft may be integrating other Windows 10 features and reaching beyond Courier's target market.
  • Microsoft Graph and Your Phone may link iPhone and Android phones to digital journals, allowing them to share information.
  • If it's Surface-branded, company-wide, inter-department collaboration (rather than side project treatment) is likely.

How Microsoft's prepping the enterprise for digital journals

For these reasons, Microsoft may have deemed 2018 the right time for folding digital journals. Still, the problem exists and questionable commitments to the Harmon Kardon smart speaker and a shifting Cortana strategy reveal Microsoft is still struggling with what could be its fatal flaw.

If Microsoft green lights Andromeda, let's hope its ongoing struggles won't deliver a fatal blow to an intriguing new mobile PC category.

Jason L Ward is a columnist at Windows Central. He provides unique big picture analysis of the complex world of Microsoft. Jason takes the small clues and gives you an insightful big picture perspective through storytelling that you won't find *anywhere* else. Seriously, this dude thinks outside the box. Follow him on Twitter at @JLTechWord. He's doing the "write" thing!

161 Comments
  • They flushed 10 billion down drain on phones. There is no "could"
  • Yes but they failed because Android was opensource and Windows Phone wasn't, and US already has a closed phone ecosystem called iOS, so probably Obama (former US President) had talks with Apple's and Google's CEO and didn't included Steve Ballmer back then about why US would only support 2 different Mobile OS's.
    But this is just my opinion.
  • To which I say...Huh?
  • Obama? Okaaaaaaay
  • You bet it is your opinion.
  • Oh yeah that what happened, because the U.S is the centre of the earth.
  • Well.......... The US kinda is the CENTER of the Earth. Less and less each day, but there should be little doubt that the US dominates and sets the tone for technology and entertainment across the world.
  • Open source was not the problem. When WP launched, Microsoft charged OEM's to use it, while Android was free. Windows phone should've been free for OEM'S from day one.
  • I've read a few good articles recently that suggest that the iPhone really is what blew up BLACKBERRY's and Microsoft's businesses. (yes, I know, positive thoughts regarding Apple are prohibited by many blind Microsoft fans here :). Before the emergence of the iPhone the app ecosystem was controlled by the CARRIERS. If you were active with "cutting edge" phones in 2005-2007 you may remember the useless browsers (gopher from the early 90's was much more useful), the really, really primitive "apps" and the requirement to buy a new phone to get a new OS. With the success of the iPod the iPhone was poised to be a "must have" device and Apple was able to use that status to change who was in charge of how the handset behaved. Microsoft and Blackberry were wedded to the earlier way of doing business. When Microsoft failed to change the way it did business Google swept in with Android, an OS that didn't have the same kind of licensing headaches that all of Microsoft's OSes came with.
  • Apple is Apple. They have their lucrative 15% of the
    Market. Microsoft was fighting for the other 85% and Google took ALL of it.
  • An google took ALL of it because ballmers dumbass 'don't get scroogled' garbage and that meant Zero google apps on WP. no gmail, no google calendar etc etc etc youtube (real youtube, not those fakeass apps that used to be in the windows store)
    That gave ALL google users a reason to avoid any WP like the plague. Then MS made the worst apps. Most were a web wrap at best and absolute garbage most of the time. Even when Got developers, most of them must have failed coding class, apps were all terrible on WP.
    Ballmer is the reason for failure. He laughed at the iPhone while Steve Jobs laughed at ballmer for laughing at the iPhone every time a truck took another BILLION to the bank.
  • True on that one mayconvert
  • Google has little to do with it. Microsoft is now an Entperprise company. Those don't do well in the current smartphone market. Ask Blackberry how things went for their BB10 OS, which was a legit competitor to Android and iOS - much, much moreso than the unfinished Windows Phone 7/8 OSes; or the buggy Windows 10 Mobile. At this point, you sort of have to pick your poison. Apple decided to forgo the Pro and Enterprise markets to focus on the consumer markets (and education, by extension). On the other hand... Microsoft has no incentive to be in the smartphone market, when they can just get you guys to pay for Office every month... Why develop and maintain a mobile OS, when you can make the same money just getting lemmings to use Office for no reason other than "industry standard." Aside from that. Windows Phone/Mobile was awful. All of them, and Microsoft was completely disrespectful both to users (7.5 -> Non-Upgrade) and Developers (constantly changing up the development story/reinventing the wheel/lack of API surface making it impossible for developers to port in 7-8, etc.).
  • Microsoft can't sit idle on O365 subscriptions, though. Google Docs is slowly growing in popularity - and they've had collaborative document editing down for years, where Microsoft still hasn't got that sorted. Office (particularly Excel) is more powerful, but more and more people are going to use alternative options when they're free - most people don't really need all those powerful features; and more and more people are starting to realize that. It's going to be really interesting to see what happens to Microsoft in the coming decade; the company is not the same company it was in the 90's and even 2000's - not just in market dominance, but in culture, product focus, etc. I'm hopeful they become competitive again, and with hits like the Surface line, they have the potential. I've been working in Medical Enterprise IT for just three years, and in even in that short time I've seen a definite transition towards using iPod Touches and iPads more; doctors love Apple products. Some even use Macs. I've also seen Chromebooks and Citrix/VMWare thin client platforms start to take off. As more and more features come to competing operating systems and/or device types, Microsoft may loose more ground. Maybe that decline will kick them into gear and spur real innovation and commitment to making good products. I'm eager to see what happens, whatever way it goes.
  • 20% apple smartphone Market growing.
    39%apple tablet market but tablet market has been shrinking Why everybody going to buy a 2 in 1.
    apple in the desktop and Laptop Market at 10% and growing
    Ps in the smartphone market at Amazon makes Alexa phone Google is screwed
  • Amazon would uses Android for their phones and Google Assistant already passed Alexa. That would be no competition for Google, just more Android phones.
  • And you know what they say about opinions right? They're like your anus, everybody has one!
  • Pretty sure that joke doesnt work with the word anus.
  • Everybody has your anus? No wonder you defecate as smoothly as a stick of butter slides around a red-hot skillet.
  • Wtf are you talking about?
  • By that logic Windows itself should have failed in the market due to it not being open source and Linux should be dominating the desktop, laptop and tablet markets because it is open source, which clearly isn't the case. That and the US IS NOT the entire world, Windows Phones had ~10% of the market in Europe but Microsoft decided to do the typical thing of ignoring markets where they are succeeding.
  • The problem is that the consumer is now driving tech a lot more than businesses, at least in the US. Back when PCs were pretty expensive and just growing in the homes, it made sense for a "push down from the business" approach. Now - people have money and will spend it on something cool or convenient. The iPhone changed the game and MS was slow to adapt. The way they handled WP/WM/WP showed that they just don't get the consumer, but we saw that with the Zune as well. It was a great media player - with no market or support. Surface was a bit of an outlier as far as I can tell. It's successful, but probably most successful in pushing the OEMs to do something to keep up instead of pushing out the same old clunky/expensive hardware of the past. I think if Andromeda is going to stand any chance, it needs to be consumer-focused, worldwide, and compelling to buy/use. At this point, the consumer market is going to be really wary of adopting another MS device after the WP mess. (And yes, Mr. Nadella, we want a 3rd platform.)
  • Integrating Windows 10 with iphone/android should have been a focus from the start. This is actually quite smart because it keeps windows 10 in the business side and also allows smart phone users to use the same OS they use at work. If the iphone was only integrated well with Macs then consumers would likely put their phone first and go with Macs. The shift of creating PC's that will also act as phones is their way of trying to enter the consumer market as well but it will likely start at the enterprise. A 3-in-1 sort of model that runs full windows 10 and has cellular capability is the answer to enterprises dealing with BYOD. They can now provide the full experience with 1 device. Not needing to manage all these phones on top of laptops. And since it also will run full windows 10 the integration with their own personal mobile phones will make things seamless. If the form factor is right and the app store grows enough more consumers may become interested in these devices instead of having all these separate ones. It's like the Surface brand got popular because it was the answer to buying so many different things, except it's flawed yet still somehow became popular. The tablet mode of these devices is much to desire as there really aren't any apps built for touch, yet somehow they got popular. PWA could be the answer of course. It's not just the answer for MS. It's the answer to a big problem app stores created. Everything moved from web to the app store. And the app store became a huge nightmare of apps. PWA will be evolving over time and getting better. This also gives other companies a chance to launching their own operating systems without dealing with the big app hurdle. It could lead to a lot of consumer choice. Either way MS has always had issues with first generation products. So if not done perfectly it will just end up getting bad reviews and people will forget about it. This is why MS needs to do this when the time is right. I guess letting their partners try at it first is one way of doing it. I'm not sure foldable tech will bite outside of enterprise. The mobile phone is popular because it's glued to you. It can fit in your pocket. You really need some great engineering to create a tablet/phone that also goes in your pocket and is easy to use.
  • You assume that apps are the problem. Of course, there are multiple companies, so for some maybe you can apply that. However, for most companies avoiding the ad blocking is already worth it. Especially for the biggest ones like Facebook and Google, and they dictate the trends. However PWAs are mostly dead on arrival, simply because they take at least 10x more batteries and batteries are actually the only problem on the smartphones. They could be excessively slow, it would still work on modern smartphones, but you can't make excuses for battery consumption. At the end of the day to achieve something similar to PWAs you could use tools like PhoneGap/Cordova ever since and they never really caught up. If there was the problem you are talking about they would rule the world.
  • Quote: "If the iPhone was only integrated well with Macs then consumers would likely put their phone first and go with Macs." THIS, SO MUCH. This is why I got an iMac. Apple released the Yosemite update with Continuity, SMS/MMS Relay, Handoff, and iCloud Photo Library and that was just too good to pass up. It helps that developers jump on everything Apple releases, so apps were quick to implement iCloud Sync Support, Photos Extensions, etc. There are still barely any Windows Applications that properly sync with OneDrive with the same UX, aside form those that just save files there via the File Explorer window (not using the APIs to Sync to App Folders, like on Apple platforms). The Surface devices were also overpriced. It's was just much cheaper to get an Amazon Kindle HD with a complete content ecosystem backing it than spend 3-5x more on a Surface RT. Even the Kindles had a better app ecosystem. The Surface Pro wasn't a good value compared to a cheaper Laptop and an iPad Air 2 (or, Frankly, a MBA or rMBP) - considering they have Apple-level pricing on the upgrade options. The App ecosystem wasn't really ready for that form factor. It still hasn't really matured, IMO. Touchscreen laptops are still as niche as ever, unless you're talking about those (equally niche) convertibles you fold in half to use like a super heavy tablet with barely any tablet apps and a bad ecosysytem of pen-optimized apps (IF the device even has a digitizer/pen). This is why Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 was so important. It's what people were hoping for, but I completely jumped ship from everything else (except Windows desktop for gaming) when Apple released those updates for their platforms. Microsoft needed a Nexus strategy. When they allowed OEMs to put Windows 8 on those awful low end devices (1GB RAM, laughable eMMC storage, etc.), which couldn't even update the OS properly they made this form factor seem like how low end Android phones used to seem to people. I'm one of those people who replaced an 8" Windows Tablet with a Kindle HD, and it was one of the best decisions I made. Threw the Windows device in the trash. Couldn't even update the OS properly, and it was a PITA to use due to how few touch-optimized apps were out there. It didn't help that Microsoft, for a long time, didn't even let you use the Windows Store without a Microsoft Account login - which caused issues for developers as people were avoiding this, and thus unable to even access the store. Centennial also took way to long. This should have been launched with Windows 10. There is very little use for UWP applications on a Desktop/Laptop machine. Those should have been for Mobile only, with .NET/Windows SDKs/APIs to allow integration between the two form factors - similar to what Apple has done with iCloud, Continuity, HandOff, etc.
  • They are REALLY missing an opportunity right now. Everyone in the US is very concerned with security again and the sharing of personal data. MS should launch a product now as "the most secure platform on the planet - your data will never be shared" to start a new market paradigm.
  • you have a really good point and with Microsoft positioning itself as the driving force behind security innovations its a likely method. if it gets done right. with windows 10 there are more security conscious technologies built in than any other OS so it could be very easy for them to leverage that angle and make a name for themselves. sadly with their woefully atrocious marketing department I don't think they will. Microsoft is sitting on a gold mine of security technology but I doubt the vast majority of even IT professionals even know about it because MS can't market well.
  • This is a differentiator that could work for Microsoft. The best of both Android and ios. It took me forever to jump from Windows 10 mobile to finally settling on android simply because I didn't like Google's business model of selling my data, but Apple was too inward focused and exclusionary. I couldn't decide between the two for the longest time because they are so different. If Microsoft could be the middle ground of secure device that plays well with everyone else. This would probably be sufficient to get me back to Microsoft. Even though their handling of Windows 10 mobile has me really gun shy of ever going back to them. They would have to fix their high brow view of consumers and see the real market for pocketable devices is with consumers, with a business element. Not the other way around. Even us office types generallly use our phones way more outside of the office than we do in the office. Plus there is such a bigger market directly to consumers because many people don't have an office, or need a computer to get work done. There are so many people (stay at home mom's, teenagers, retired people, factory workers, landscapers, maids, food industry workers, retail workers, etc.) who don't have an office, and don't need a work phone. It needs to be a true consumer device with potential office capabilities for the niche who uses those features to reach mass market adoption.
  • Pdch, There is one glaring flaw in your idea. Microsoft shares your data with just as many people as google and Apple.
  • Who do they sell data to? Proof please
  • Who does the others sell to? Microsoft are being sued for selling personal data now blinded fanbaby.
  • Evidence, please lol
  • Here you go fanbaby. Microsoft is no better than any other. https://mspoweruser.com/microsoft-accused-of-illegal-data-collection-spy...
  • Just as many as Google maybe but Apple does not share data nearly at the same level as Google/Facebooks of the world. Not even close.
  • Very dramatic. Although Microsoft does many things down in the "Edge" regarding your data, while Google is forced to do the same in the cloud ☁. So your data needs to be "stolen" as step one, when you use Google services.
  • No they aren't. Facebook useage went up after the scandal last month. No one cares about privacy.
  • Which is strange, cuz one might think, it would go down during the scandal. Did it? Cuz that would prove you wrong.
  • Look it up. https://www.techradar.com/news/what-scandal-facebook-usage-actually-incr...
  • Evidence please lol
  • https://www.techradar.com/news/what-scandal-facebook-usage-actually-incr...
  • There's a fair amount of "fatigue" out there over the Apple/Samsung duopoly. It's not overwhelming, but not insignificant either. Of course, this presumes the "all things being equal" app situation, which is anything but.
  • "Consumers are driving tech" ...
    Definitely agree with this 100%. Gone are the days where people use a device at work and want the same at home. Seems to me people who use a device at home (like an iPad) are driving the choices at work instead. It is what they are familiar with, and it trickles up to the office. I know there is a whole other world that is all about enterprise, servers and other things most consumers don't worry about. But seems to me the consumer driven products: the phone, the tablet, etc, become the face of your company. As the desktop becomes somewhat stagnant I wonder what MS can do to maintain some mindshare. Those consumers afterall are the same folks making decisions (either today or in the future) in the corporate world.
  • I loved the Kin idea back then
  • Microsoft has come up with some stellar ideas. They just can't seem to see them out. Plus marketing or advertising needs to improve. I see this commercial by Apple showing how you can unlock your phone with your face. The commercial looks awesome! Engaging! Makes you want to try it out! Microsoft's commercials always look timid. Shy. Almost begging please try me. Maybe others see it differently, but that's what I see. Plus I'm not sold on this pending Andromeda device. I don't see the purpose if no phone is built in. What's ironic is that other companies will build a similar device with a phone and I can see the commercial now deriding the device without a phone. And guess what? Microsoft might just throw in the towel once again.
  • If you can't see the point, that's probably because there isn't one. Kind of like UWP with no mobile. Or Cortana with no speakers. Or XBox with no exclusive games. MS simply cannot make compelling products. Or Windows with no developers. But, honestly, that's okay. They're doing fantastically well by essentially becoming a better IBM than IBM. They are going to remain an important tech company for years to come, just not one that anyone "cares" about.
  • Personally, I think that Andromeda's biggest problem will be it's price. If you want to conquer the modern smart phone market you need to target the middle, not the top. Mid ranged phones with reasonable price tags, phones that are cheap enough that people can afford to upgrade every couple of years. even if they don't strictly need to.
  • Apple would disagree with you on that.
  • Apple would, I agree. But he still has a good point. It's the reason Android is more popular on a per unit basis
  • But even Android has it's high priced phones. And there are lots of people who still buy them. One of the problems as I see it, Microsoft was bound and determine to advertise their phone as if it were a "work" device with all this nonsense Word, Excel, etc. I love those products and I use them everyday at work. But the absolute last thing I want to hear is that those programs/apps are the best feature of my phone. I want my phone to be about fun stuff. Not WORK! Plus I would pay the price for a solid foldable phone. Otherwise it's just a tablet and I already own a couple of those.
  • Andromeda is not a phone.
  • Thanks I didn't know that. ;)
  • If Andromeda have cellular capability, it is technically a smartphone, especially if if folded has a size of a smartphone. Here is a thing, smartphone defination nowadays has long gone from being a phone with computer now to a pocket computer that have cellular capability, primarily for communication. Modern smartphones are the "pocket PCs".
  • Read the last para, it will interact with ios n Android. Its a device to complement phobes not replace them.
  • Why would you ever want that? What can such a device do that any other one can't? Microsoft better have a great argument for such a thing.
  • I'm going to say this once again. Stop saying it's really a computer and not a phone. If it is called a "smartphone" then it's a PHONE! Simple. Stop it people. Also, let all these phone companies stop celling PHONES and just sell a small computer. See how quickly their business crash and burn. Most people I know, don't have a home phone any longer. They carry a "smartphone" for people to contact them when wanting to speak to each other. It's a phone with lots of other capabilities. One of which is computer capabilities. Not the other way around. I'd love for you to put it to a test. If Microsoft does come out with foldable device without a phone, buy it and get rid of your "smartphone" let's see how long that takes before you go running back to your "smartphone". And as many have pointed out this so called device is suppose to be a companion to your smartphone. So I ask again, what's the point? So, I'll conclude a device the size of a smartphone without a phone is not for me. But for those that will want this device it's their money buy as many as you want. It's all good.
  • Surface Andromeda WILL have telephony.
  • Are you 100% sure?
  • I wholeheartedly agree with you on the marketing. MS needs to adopt a new strategy like apple with the whole "you need this device in your life" they are very passive and not in your face like they should be. this article speaks a lot to how MS doesn't know consumers and I agree to extent. They obviously know how to create features that people will want (because everyone makes copies of the features they have and are very successful with them) they just don't know how to show consumers how they will be beneficial in their everyday life or why they need the feature. So they know how to create the awesome feature but not connect it to the consumer in a way to sell a product
  • Yep, timid. Like this one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdrmounM8uo
  • Phone shipments are declining in 2018 and that's good news for Microsoft, the smartphone industry is facing the same problem happening to PC market in the last 8 years.
    Microsoft created the Surface since it created a brand new category of consumer product called 2 in 1s. And Gartner and other firms are seeing a steady growth in the 2 in 1 market in the last years and thats thanks to Microsoft.
    As an example I have a 11.6 " 2 in 1 for which I paid $450, it supports Windows Hello (fingerprint authentication) has USB Type-C, supports Windows Ink technology and has a better performance than a Surface Pro 3 (low end Core M3 model).
    Most folks today paying $900 on smartphones would get a much better experience for productivity if they purchased a 2 in 1, since a expensive phone is still a phone, but a 2 in 1 has much more possibilities for professionals that want to create.
    Just my 2 cents.
  • A 2 in 1 can't fit in your pocket. Different market entirely.
  • What he means probably is that you have wasted your money 💵 on a phone 📱 to have real-time bunny 🐰 ears on your head rather than admitting it is completely useless to do so and could have bought a low-end device instead and a reasonable 2-in-1.
  • Microsoft didn't create the 2 in 1 category.
  • "2 in 1" is just another laptop. Nothing new there.
  • Gee, you think?... Who needs consumers anyway? As long as Google or Apple don't do business MS will be fine...
  • But they are. I work for a company of 14,000, and consult with several others. We/they used to be an all-in Microsoft shop. Not anymore. iPads are taking over in the corporate offices. AWS is moving in and Azure is moving out. Google analytics. Gmail is taking over Outlook web access. Skype for business is being replaced by GoToMeeting and FaceTime.
  • I believe you're right when you say "Fatal flaw." Consumerization of IT is the current trend and it may be the way things go moving forward. While the iPhone started as and still strongly is a consumer device, enterprises are adopting it as their mobile standard. Slack is also becoming popular in businesses because people have been using it for their personal projects.
    So while Microsoft is currently making boatloads of cash off the enterprise, they really have to ask if they'll be able to hold on to market share there if they don't have a compelling consumer story given that the consumer market is driving so much of corporate IT.
  • I think that the bigger problem - bigger than not understanding consumers - is that Microsoft simply isn't engaging with companies that do understand consumers. Windows phone was a good product, but very few other companies picked it up and ran with it. Microsoft was trying to be Apple, when it should have been aping Google. If Microsoft had engaged more phone manufacturers, and those manufacturers had added their advertising to Microsoft's, then there could have been more market penetration.
  • So frustrating. Surely some people in the board room are recognizing this issue and doing something about it.
  • What leads you to that conclusion? The fact that they have been so successful despite the answers being right in front of their faces the whole time?
  • I guess they're afraid. They could be reflecting back on Windows phone efforts which ended in failures.
  • Good point Jason, it seems to be a fundamental cultural problem. And agree with many points in the comments too. I think the real problem lies in a lack of commitment. C'mon MS, either cook or get out of the kitchen! MS execs need to all get in a room and decide once and for all... are we an A) Enterprise-only focused company or B) an Enterprise AND Consumer focused company. If the answer is A, fine, quit wasting developer's and fans' precious time and hard-earned money trying to deliver something you are only 1/2 committed to. Hold a press conference and officially end the Consumer relationship. Kill it all off: Cortana (in all its forms), Bing, MSN, Outlook.com, Office 365 Home & Personal editions, Office 2016 Home & Student for PC, all MS authored iOS and Android apps except for Office 365 mobile, Skype, Visual Studio community edition, the MS Store in its entirety, xbox and Microsoft Studios, and finally Windows Home Edition. If the answer is B then stop already with half-hearted attempts at it. Break your organization into Consumer & Enterprise if necessary. But commit! Don't be afraid to passionately pursue it. BTW I'm personally in favor of Option B. MS has the skillset and financial resources to provide a solid 3rd option (which is good enough) in mobile computing, and to remain the defacto go-to option in consumer focused productivity computing. But they have to commit! Either commit or it's iPads and Chromebooks, and their Ambient device counterparts we'll soon see in every home. And I for one personally believe we will start seeing them (especially Google) more and more in the Enterprise and Education (worldwide) too, since Apple and Google aren't pursuing "trickle down" theory, they're pursuing grass-roots, ground up theory. https://enterprise.google.com/chrome/
    https://edu.google.com/
    https://cloud.google.com/ https://developer.apple.com/programs/enterprise/
    https://www.windowscentral.com/e?link=https%3A%2F%2Fapple.sjv.io%2Fc%2F2...
  • I largely agree with you. Right now, they're just playing around with keeping their apps and services on iPhone and Android. I broke down and bought a cheap Android device and looked up Paul Thurrott's and other people's suggested ways to make the Android device as much of a Windows phone experience as possible. The bottom line is that you simply can't get their. First, Android, as an OS, is a piece of garbage and nothing but a chaotic, disintegrated mess. It REQUIRES you to customize the hell out of it just to make it attractive and somewhat usable. It REQUIRES constant babying in order to keep it from collapsing under the weight of its own horrible design and programming. Second, you can't kill all of the built-in Google garbage. Third, you can't completely REPLACE the most commonly used features/apps/service with things from Microsoft because they have only built them as an afterthought and have chosen NOT to figure out how to shoehorn it all in so it works seamlessly with the Android service AND their own apps. Want to use "Hey, Cortana"? Sorry, can't be done without activating the app. Want to do anything that requires your Contacts, email or calendar for your Microsoft account? Sorry, you'll have to import to Android's garbage (which is a pain all by itself). OneDrive? Sure, if you ONLY want to use that in its own isolated little world---Google insists that you store everything by default, regardless of the app, THEIR way. Virtually none of Android recognizes I have OneDrive storage and prefer EVERYTHING to go TO and come FROM there. If Microsoft cared enough beyond having placeholder presence on Android (much less iPhone), they'd figure out how to allow us to do this.
  • Trying to turn Android into a Windows phone was your problem. Try turning a Windows phone into an Apple or Android phone and it will also suck. Microsoft's services are mostly inferior to Google's, there is no reason to continue using anything but Office.
  • Almost all of cloud services - including their development tools - beg to differ.
  • Gmail is superior to Outlook or whatever they call their email service. Outlook has certainly come a long way though. Microsoft basically has no cloud photo service, certainly not one that can compete with Google Photos. They have no YouTube competitor. No more music service. Their virtual assistant is all but dead. One Drive isn't any different than Google Drive. Office is all they really have and only if you require it for work. Google Docs is perfectly fine for home use, costs nothing, and you don't have to worry about losing anything.
  • It's your opinion that Gmail is superior to Outlook. My opinion is the opposite.
    Google Docs is a competitor to Word Online, not Office (I assume you mean Office 365 where you're talking about Office). Office is significantly better than Google Docs (in my opinion).
  • Either way, Outlook came out several years after GMail and doesn't have any compelling reason for consumers to switch. Office is certainly more powerful, but who needs that power away from work, especially if you have to pay and isn't readily available anywhere you go?
  • I specifically meant Azure vs...whatever Google calls its cloud package.
  • Who cares about that? It isn't interesting or user facing at all.
  • Bleached is right. Android is it's own thing. Why try and use it and complain that it's not compatible with everything MSFT? It's not supposed to be. MSFT want their consumers to move elsewhere. They've made that pretty clear.
  • Yeah, I agree that the OS is way better in Windows than what I've seen on reviews of Chromebook, even the flagship Pixelbook. And like you, I really WANT Microsoft to succeed in Consumer. And I honestly believe the only thing stopping them from doing so is themselves. The fact that we're all on this site 3 years after they killed Windows mobile, clamoring for it to exist again, proves that they make good products. But in order to succeed at anything... sports... career... academics... faith... marriage... kids... anything... you have to commit. This whole "side project" thing has to stop. It's misleading. People are investing in these products and services. We're talking time and money. It's just not the honorable thing to do, to allow folks to invest in something you yourself are not fully committed to. It's like a slime ball developer selling retirement homes to seniors, and 1/2 way through the project deciding not to finish the development, simply because the profit margin isn't quite as high as they'd initially planned it. It's just dirty and wrong. For me I've set a date. 1/1/2019. And for me a mobile device is the consumer touchstone. We live in a mobile world at present. So no mobile device by then (Andromeda, Surface Phone, whatever), or at a minimum no formal announcement of an upcoming mobile device and I start the dreaded undertaking of switching to another platform. Of course I'll still use Windows at the office, but even there, as a person who has some voice in what products and devices we purchase I'll be pushing for AWS or Google Cloud, Alexa or Google Assistant, iPads and Macs or Chromebook and other Chrome/Android based alternatives, every chance I can. Partially out of spite, just because MS has pissed me off so much as a consumer, but also because most of our apps are HTML based anyway. And with virtualization we can move the Windows based legacyware we have onto servers.
  • I'd say don't disappoint yourself out of spite. If you like anything from Microsoft, stick to it. Those that you don't, find alternatives. You don't gotta switch from OneDrive to Google Drive cause there's no smartphone by Microsoft.
  • You know I spent 1/2 of a career now porting IBM iSeries COBOL\DB2 apps over to what I thought were "modernized" Windows Server\SQL Server\.net\WPF\ASP\HTML5 apps using Visual Studio as a development IDE. But I would happily and most joyfully spend the final 1/2 of that career setting my team and agency up for the future by porting those same apps over to a platform that is truly relevant, a platform that seems committed to its own consumer and enterprise initiatives. Most importantly I want my team to be able to hire and retain the next batch of talented developers and network engineeers both right now and in future. I know I can't hire COBOL programmers right now to safe my life. That's a major factor in why we ported to MS in the first place. That said... to me the company of the FUTURE is also the company of TODAY in CONSUMER, which is in my opinion Google. As far as I can see into future I'd put my money that the youth of today will be growing up learning how to program on a Chromebook. They will be using Google almost everywhere they go. It will Google's phone and Google's AI in their pocket. Google's Assistant they use. Google's browser they use. A browser which BTW has already become the defacto standard in the Enterprise because it was the defacto standard in the Consumer world too. These kids will most likely be learning how to hook into Google's cloud offering somewhere along the line. And when those kids enter the workforce they will want to use Google products in the Enterprise the same way my generation wanted to use Microsoft products and NOT IBM products in the Enterprise. If M$ does something to stem that tide I might change my mind. But right now I view MS becoming every bit as irrelevant to the next generation as iSeries/zOS/COBOL and all of IBM's products are to my generation. In large part because the next generation will simply NOT be using their offerings in any way shape or form in their daily lives. https://enterprise.google.com/chrome/
    https://edu.google.com/
    https://cloud.google.com/
  • Microsoft's failure in consumer space is SUPER ULTRA OBVIOUS to everyone... except Microsoft. How many times can you ROYALLY SCREW UP amazingly forward thinking, useful consumer-focused innovation? It seems Microsoft is looking to completely blow missed opportunities at least 100 times before they take notice. I mean, even when they have the leg up on the competition, they STILL blow it. WTF. Pathetic. I want them to succeed but... this is just... pathetic.
  • I never understood why their phone business didn't take off. I still have the Lumia 928 and love it. Everyone is always asking me what my phone is.
  • Me too. Lumia 950
  • Same here. However, the camera in the 950 is no longer better than the newest high-end smartphones.
  • L950 XL. Love it. When I show them photos taken with it and tell them it was a phone from 2015, they are amazed.
  • There are so many reasons. I think the biggest was Microsoft did not have a good strategy. They tried to combine the worst part of the iPhone (locked down hardware and software) with the worst part of Android (manufacturers making all the devices). There were plenty of other little issues too. Limited APIs, missing features, slow development, late to market, no customization, etc.
  • I see you finally managed to include the main reasons why WP fell behind. It goes like this: Microsoft managed to combine the best part of iPhone, the clean design, no clutter, smooth performance, with the best part of Android, the more open nature (access to file system, SD card support, mass storage mode) and come up with a solid product. They just killed the thing again due to their own incompetence - what Jason points out here being an important reason - and being late to market as the primary reason. We ALL know that if WP was the 2nd mobile platform after iOS it would have been everywhere today. There is just no way around this fact.
  • No. Android still would have steamrolled them. Being free and open source was too big of a pro for the manufacturers. Samsung is going to push their own TouchWiz harder than a Windows phone no matter what.
  • I still got my 925, 930, 950 and the HP elite X2 all still working and recently got myself an iPhone 8 and an apple watch series 3 and out is good. Now can't wait for the next iPhone X with 6.5" screen. Blame Satya Nadella.
  • Good article. But I fear the digital journal will fare the same way like all other MS things. Without good apps to great services it isnt worth a thing. Or is MS just going to do the hardware and send us for services to Dropbox , Spotify, GooglePhotos and Netflix
  • Hope is not a strategy. They just keep ignoring consumer customers. Even when you look at the alleged reasons behind Andromeda, it's almost exclusively in "business speak". Your average consumer doesn't think that way. The ONE advertisement they have the comes closest to connecting is that Surface Pro commercial with the girl doing the design work...but it's not portrayed as work. It's like they don't have anyone that simply spends time WATCHING people across all walks in how they simply DO THE DAY. What do they gravitate to almost without thinking, how to the accomplish things and WHAT do they want to accomplish during a regular day. It's NOT mostly about work. If they continue to push the "productivity" aspect, then hardcore business is the ONLY place they will ever exist. For me, the Windows phones were A) a different and MUCH more attractive presentation of things I want to TYPICALLY do on my smartphone; B) much more integrated so that I didn't HAVE to find and install a bunch of garbage and figure out how to make it all work together; C) had just enough productivity capability so that if I actually did have to do work stuff on the fly, I certainly could.
  • +100500, it seems lack of technical analytics at the top management that's why all you need to kill any thing that can pish the KPI.. But in current business environment it can't be continued for long. Just to Windows 10 same product will be made... And I think several companies have enough money to done it...
  • Microsoft lacks conviction and that's the reason they are unable to fine tune their products as per consumer needs. The moment they see competition, they back out.
  • Teams needs to be freemium like Slack. I help run a historical society with several hundred members, with a budget of very close to zero(as in hundreds of dollars per year, not thousands). As it's not involved in charitable donations, none of Microsoft's enterprise offerings are of any use to us at all.
  • As a consumer, I don't care who makes it. Somebody will. May the best product win.
  • The problem is that quite often the best product doesn't win, the company that markets their product the best wins, even if their product is inferior.
  • Their biggest consumer failing is giving up too soon. They get people onboard with devices and services like the Watch, Groove and Mobile and then leave them hanging, not because those were bad ideas or products, but becase they never fully finished them or rectified issues in future upgrades. Customers are then left with a sour taste because they have invested into technology that then gets dumped. It's for this reason that say buying a video in the Movies app or a book in Edge would never happen for me. I cannot trust Microsoft to support my buy in. Hopefully they are learning. With Office and Office 365 they show complete commitment, so those are safe services, but in the consumer world, they really need to never bother doing something, or commit 100% for the very long journey.
  • If they make a product that can run x86_64 applications and is pocketable, that would be something groundbreaking. They wouldn't even need any new developer ecosystem, if you can have all the programs or UWP apps from the desktop run natively on a pocketable computer, that can be used both as a portable computer and a phone. That you could easily connect to a big screen and start being productive on a big screen too: opening emails, writing docs, opening files etc. It would be something much more versatile and capable than your average or even your flagship smartphone. Smartphones would pale in comparison, if such a gadget were well-made. You can do this right now with a smartphone too, but most of the time you're confined to using weaksauce "mobile" apps, which have always been compromise versions of real, desktop applications.
    Problem is, you couldn't price this in any way that would be affordable to most people. They would have to follow a similar strategy as with the other Surface products, by aiming to position themselves in the premium space. Or maybe, eventually, Microsoft will have the courage to move on from their commitment to not compete with other OEMs which ship Windows-based devices and just launch some more affordable versions too.
    But, knowing Microsoft, they tend to have lackluster launches. They are the exact opposite of Apple. They don't launch new products with a big splash, they just launch them to establish a first foothold in a market and then work to increase the adoption of those products in future versions. They tend to take a less risky approach, usually.
  • Too late. Because of their fatal failures and pathetic behavior, trust in them is lost! They will fail with Andromeda as well as with win arm because it is in their nature to fail, they have no clue about anything than cloud these days and that's the result of giving the CEO position to an imbecile!
  • How do you save an edited comment, I don't see any button for that. It tells me I don't have the reputation to make another post? I'm just trying to edit my comment... Jeez.
  • Satya Nadella most of all doesn't get the consumer market, he needs to return to his division and let someone else take the reins. Hardware drives software, and some software drive hardware. It's not mutually exclusive, nor rocket science.
  • I completely agree. Nadella would make a great VP of Azure and AI. You can tell how passionate he is about it. But he is completely disconnected from the consumer market. He's a back-end guy. Cool. Send him back to a corner office somewhere where he lead Scott Guthrie and the other backoffice enterprise nerds into a brave new world. But give the CEO reins to a guy like Phil Spencer, a relatable, cool guy, who understands consumers.
  • For some reason, some people feel the "only" metric for a company's success is being "king of devices". The weak point of this superficial thinking, is the fickle, biased, time dependent nature of the device ownership. Many, many companies have risen or fallen based on device success as the sole means for existence, as saturation is reached or competition builds the better product. What "really" counts are the underlying, useful, foundational technical services that makes these devices truly humanly useful, as oppose to glitzy hand candy. No building lasts long without that solid foundation. But people do not see, or rarely understand, foundational services. I believe Microsoft is working on that foundation. We can all cry about the loss of Windows Mobile, the phone, watches, smart speakers et al. But IMHO, they can all stay on the shelf until they actually can make my life better, integrate usefully, with a solid services foundation.
  • No, that's not it. People think the "only" metric *here* is being "king of devices" due to the cost of missed opportunity for Microsoft: Microsoft CAN BE the king of devices, they just keep failing.
    No one says IBM's only metric is being king of devices *anymore*. But you could talk about how they missed a giant opportunity due to lack of vision and mobility.
  • IBM found out that in trying to be "the" device today, you will only be dethroned by the competition, because there is little long term loyalty in H/W at the consumer level. IBM shifted to business infrastructure/foundational stuff. Sure they still make H/W, but only for business, and they focussed on subscripted S/W and services, where success and stability lie.
  • ...when at one time they were the leaders in hardware.
    It's a weird way of reasoning: you are a leader in something, and you lose the competition because you're not good enough, then you say "yeah we figured there is competition there so we got out!" no my friend, you were FORCED out by the competition because you were not good enough. And people want Microsoft to avoid the obvious pitfalls, and BE good enough.
  • "Consumers wanted the same productivity tools at home that they used at work." And they want the same personal applications and services they use at home to be available at work. It's this circle of connectivity that Microsoft just doesn't get. They need to be present in both the consumer and enterprise space in order to succeed in the long play.
  • Ahh..."the side project" problem. Like how you don't care that your phone doesn't have 2 serparate volume controls or copy/paste, or your 2 deveopers for the entire Windows Phone project keep pushing non-updates to your Xbox Music app as if consumers are stupid little children.
  • Like my bartender said last night "whatever phone you have, you end up going with those products for everything else so everything is on one system"
  • Microsoft has had way more chances than most at making a run at the consumer market and has failed at almost every turn, even the XBOX can't be seen as much of a success when you see how badly it's losing to the Playstation. They need to make peace with the fact that Enterprise Software/Services (not much different than IBM after it sold it's hardware business to Lenovo) is their future, if they want to have a future that is. If this courier like device is released, it won't be priced or catering to consumers. It might be sold through certain consumer channels, maybe BB will carry it like they do the Surface line but I can't see consumers being the key demographic for such a device nor will the average consumer even if they could afford it, find much use out of a pocket PC that may or may not be able to make phone calls.
  • Great points with facts, Jason. Missed your article on the subject of Project Andromeda and especially on what consumers mean for MSFT.
  • Thanks Ray. appreciate the support.
  • Jason, at some point I wish you would address the other side of the WinTel ecosystem. If Intel could have produced a CSIC chip to compete with an ARM chip, then maybe WinTel could have a strong presence in the consumer space. The entire application ecosystem for the PC market was left out in the cold by Intel's inability to produce a competitive mobile chip for the consumer space. That said, inking is still not quite equal to pencil and paper. I have multiple 5"x8" yellow pads I write on through the day making notes etc., which is easy to use to transfer thoughts into words on a page for others to see and use. Just how much work in hardware and software is required to duplicate the utility of pencil and paper? I do use my surface to write notes during meetings. Then I saw an article about how Cortana will hear, see and transcribe the conversation in the meeting. What happens if that is immediately present on a whiteboard of the meeting, and people add their own notes and drawings. This has to be a huge task and a huge deployment of resources. Then I read this morning about the integration of 3DXP memory onto a server chip which, if Intel is accurate in their description, is a huge leap in processing power. What happens if you move this processor closer to the edge? Add in the tech developed for the Surface pen and screen and the software to power the whiteboard and the software to allow Cortana to transcribe a meeting in real time and the hardware/software to convert the pen movements to a digital record and you have a compelling foundation to deliver services that come close to unifying the analog world of human interaction with the digital world of computing. I guess you should also add in Hololens, VR, and MR. The smartphone is not the end point to this merger of human interaction and the digital world. It is primarily a bridge. A tool you use to transfer your voice across the world and create primarily digital instructions into the information system. I just don't think the smartphone has the power and the utility to fully merge the analog and digital worlds. Will Andromeda become a home for this merger or just a more powerful tool to bridge the divide?
  • My perspective about Microsoft and the consumer market goes back to the very beginning, the IBM 64 and DOS. The stuff in museums now. Originally, it was all about the operating system. Now, OS is almost a after thought from it beginnings. So what went wrong? I started Sweepstakestoday.com (ST) over 14 years ago. My prior background was corporate marketing and sales including hardware and software. This worked into advertising with ST. But more importantly, a close bonding with thousands of members. These members varied in age, mostly older, and experience in computers and software. The first big Microsoft problem I found was the member/consumer on ST knew how to turn on a computer and get on the net. After that, many were lost when problems raised. Granted, even 10 years ago, hardware and software was much different. Mostly slower and difficult to use. Microsoft really missed on this point of helping the consumer. Instead, Microsoft and the hardware makers were in a massive race to create the next generation of products not understanding that the consumer was still having a difficult time. Also many forget 15 years ago, only 50 percent +/- on America had access to any kind of internet. This was mainly the dial up days for the consumer. Then the consumer started to see faster in-home connection speeds with cable. The small town market started to come alive. However the consumers for the most part were still slow to keep up with technology. Unlike MS, I really listened to my members and took ST to number one in the world in Google Search Rankings. The whole point of my comment never took time to really understand the consumer at my level of being a successful website owner who understood the consumer and what they needed and wanted to enjoy the internet. Yes, MS did ask through surveys and opinion polls but I am talking about getting down to the real level of talking with the consumers. I hope someone in MS marketing department reads my comment. Their problems are fixable but not easy. If you are, contact me. God knows I spent a ton of money with MS and hope that deserves some degree of respect. Craig McDaniel, President
    Sweepstakes Today LLC
  • Microsofts problem is this. 1) Users are not supported in their countries
    2)Microsoft seems, that they struggle deliver high quality service or app
    3)Users are feeling frustrated 1)I mean MS has terrible localizations. If I compare Apple, Google, MS, then MS is the worst at it.
    We can not use half of the functions and services like Cortana that are avalible only for US and few other markets. I would like to use Cortana, I would like to purchase a book from your Store. But I simply can not. 2) High quality. Ok, I have to say, MS many times creates something half-baked and releases it to public, then we wait for a long time till it gets some of the promissed function and bug fixes, still avalible only for US on top of that, aaand after all of this, it gets cancelled, because no one uses it. MS needs to improve the quality! Even Windows. It should not be released with bugs and then slowly fixing public version. The feel of using the product is one of the most important things. Even smooth animations, stability and no visible bugs. 3) And then it comes to frustration and trust. How can one trust MS, if they act like that. I mean should I buy their product, should I rely on their services? Wont it be cancelled like many other things? I LOVE MS ideas. I LOVE their design and future vissions. But I really, really dont like things I described. Please think about this.
    Thank you. :)
  • Keep on having the same conversations again and again about MS.
  • I don't really think Microsoft can survive long term as the company they are without the consumer business. Once Enterprise along with consumers eventually move off the windows desktop to something else and that will be the beginning of the end for MS as we think we know it. Google & Amazon will eat their lunch on the cloud side. As soon as companies have to start tightening their belts all those monthly software subscriptions are going to come to an end when there are open source freebees.
  • Andromeda will enter a market where there is no consumer ecosystem. No music service, no apps (unless PWA explodes) and no consumer trust that it wont be cancelled quickly. If it's a Surface device at Surface prices it will be business only. My expectations are pretty low.
  • and PWAs won't explode
  • Microsoft is good at building a toolset/framework for enterprises to make a finished product with.
    Additionally in the enterprise space loads of vendors signed up to carry the ball making and selling finished product. In the consumer space that hasn't happened in a big way. Microsoft is bad at making that finished product for consumers to use and even worse at communicating how or why the product should be used. They are terrible at reaching the developer community that serves consumers which is different than the enterprise servicing set resulting in the App Gap. To exacerbate the situation they mirrored the failed strategy Blackberry used, perhaps unwittingly. They rebooted their effort numerous times, left people holding the bag with no support, and disappeared from the scene while they regrouped leaving people wondering WTF?
    Here's an analogy, they invited people to a party... Realized they didn't have the right entertainment, food and drinks... Abruptly left the party without a word... Then reconvened at another location. Rinse repeat. People just stopped coming, when the invitation arrives they toss it aside with disdain, why wouldn't they.
  • "Windows phone, Zune, and Groove join these as products Microsoft let flounder in the increasingly important consumer space now driving personal computing's evolution. " These were all products that entered highly competitive markets that already had entrenched competitors. That is why they failed. Microsoft didn't enter those markets with a good product, even if they saw where the market was heading. Being able to see the future is not Microsoft's problem. Being able to bring a compelling product to market on time is. Microsoft was right to kill them. Next time Microsoft needs to enter a market on time with a compelling product. Windows Phone was compelling, but the market was already decided. Microsoft has quite often entered a market ahead of everyone else, only to screw around and let someone take it away from them. They risk doing that with AR and HoloLens. As for a product like the Courier, it was just a concept. Nobody even knew if the product worked worth a crap. It's nice to be excited about a concept, but until it becomes an actual product, there is not point in claiming it had greatness written all over it. Having said that, Microsoft as a company is killing it. They've gained over a half trillion dollars in market cap in the last 8+ years. Their stock price has quintupled from it's low of $18/share. It just had a record quarter that beat analyst's expectation by a significant market. There's no reason to be worried about Microsoft as a whole, just in the consumer market.
  • I agree with everything you said - except that the Zune was 'not a good product'. :) The Zune 30 was a superior product to the iPod available at the time. No will ever convince me otherwise because I had both. Literally everything about the Zune was better except the actual music service which really wasn't bad.
  • Could I respectfully disagree about the phone? MS had this almost and failed at least in the US when they alienated retailers to the point where shop staff pointed you at anything but a windows phone. They then bought the best phone company on the planet and killed it off. Not a lot of vision in Nadella.
  • Not sure why you think the retailers had anything to do with that. A lot of people that worked in those stores 10 years ago were tech geeks, and they loved technology. And a lot grew up HATING MS, because of several reasons. We know the stories- they didn't just not sell to people, they told people anything from MS was a mistake, don't buy it, etc. And people didn't.
  • Curious what made you realize that Microsoft doesn't get the consumer market- the fact they have failed at and cancelled pretty much every consumer product they make other than the X-Box?
  • So many arm chair quarterbacks with 20/20 hindsight here. It's amazing that none of you are CEOs at trillion dollars tech companies. What a waste of potential.
  • MS does not understand the value of consumers? Nah, that can't be right (sarcasm).
  • Too many side projects that got canned. Now what will Microsoft do to not continue the failed ideas trend?
  • The problem with Microsoft is its lack of real world thinking. They are not in touch with people. Microsoft had some great ideas. Game changing ideas, only to kill them before they were perfected. Apple has taken several of Microsoft's ideas, perfected them and presented them as their own. They need to hire people who get it. I work with engineers. Most of them are great people. Most engineers look at things through blinders. They see the design. They see the design detail. They see the mathematical properties and proportions of everyday objects. They are great at what they do. They need people who can look past the ordinary and understand that people want what is new and innovative. The iPhone is not the greatest phone or have the greatest OS. But it works. There is hype about the phone. It is more of a status phone. Android is a phone for people who like something that's easy to use. It has tons of free apps. The OS can be modified. The OS has a wide reaching following. The people that developed Android got it from the beginning. Microsoft missed the mark and will continue to miss the mark because they need to be connected to real people with real ideas. People that understand that business and technology needs are not what the average computer, laptop, smartphone, and tablet user want or need. It's ok to take the technology and apply it to products and software for ordinary people. But stop making the mistake that one size fits all.
  • Well - nothing cryptic about my feelings. I think that Microsoft also just doesn't get the business market either. I am sure that my company isn't alone in how we use 'Windows" computers. I have over a hundred users who come into work, turn on their computers and after complaining about how long it takes for it to finish the boot sequence, they open their Non-Microsoft "program" ( because the only "apps" they use are possibly solitaire during lunch). Then after 8 or more hours of work using their non-Microsoft "program", they turn off their computers and go home. No Cortana, no Windows Hello, No Windows Defender (I don't think I am the only Sys Admin out there who uses Non-Microsoft AV), Qh my fellow employees use MS Office 2016, but absolutely none of them have any use for Timeline, Microsoft Edge or Paint 3d. All these years and Microsoft still don't have an OS that doesn't crash, doesn't suck up lots of time doing updates and just plain functions without a hitch. Wow - - talk about having a "fatal flaw". I hope they figure this out soon before I retire in a few years and just become one of those dreaded members of the "consumer market".
  • "Microsoft just doesn't get the consumer market — and that could be a fatal flaw" You are just now realizing this? Welcome to 2016.
  • Microsoft has always been the pioneer when it comes to bringing new technologies and innovations to the consumer market. But one thing that they have always lacked is the willpower to improve upon these products in a continuous and frequent manner. Be it Kinect, Band, Cortana, Groove, Windows Phones etc. the story is always the same.
    The second factor which affect the most is that their products are not available worldwide and even if they are available, they are not advertised well. All they need to focus on with this new Andromeda device is to make it look striking, make it available worldwide and advertise it well.
    While promoting their product they need to shift their tactics country wise and demographic wise. And Voila, they have a hit product in hand.
  • Microsoft is doing some great work, but unfortunately, very few people know about it or care. That is the fault of Microsoft marketing. Build it and they will come is a fantasy. You have to build it AND market the crap out of it. They screwed up by taking too long to just give away Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile OS to OEMs so to compete with Android, and they screwed up by not working with carriers to help promote their phones.
  • This..
  • Add Andromeda to DOA / Failed products. No one wants a device like that outside a few MS fanboys
  • They let Google beeeetch-slap them around. And they sat there and just took it.
  • I really just hope Microsoft fires this noob Chris Capossela before the launch of Andromeda. This guy needs to go
  • You gave reasons why Microsoft is positioned to release a digital journal, Not reasons as to why the market is ready.
  • At last.. Seems the WC team has finally come around to understand what we've been saying all this time. This is a not "possibly fatal" ; I Ó it is fatal!! I am writing this on an Android phone (which is a forced choice, even though I've MSed it as much as possible) but the point is that I now use this to do a full 80% of my computing. I would have preferred to be on a Windows machine when mobile, but alas.. It's time people stop blaming Balmer. This is Nadella's M$ and he now should take responsibility for this Galactic f**k up.. Mobile first Cloud first my ass..
  • I've been trying to prepare my comment by going through Jason's article. On the one hand, the article is pivoting off of Jon Friedman's lecture entitled "COURAGEOUS DESIGN" (emphasis added) as a tour of Microsoft's premature product entries, market mis-reads and overall gaffes. But the article concludes with some speculation on Andromeda and it's positioning within various technology and software innovations. Finally, we land on the last two paragraphs where Jason basically offers his analysis that we should all wait and see. Remember, at the same time that all of these initiatives were coming forward, Microsoft was also launching substantial iterations on Windows (XP, Vista, 7 and 8), Office (2003, 2007, 2013), and Xbox (Original, 360, One), not to mention Surface which is undeniably a hit, and HoloLens. My point is that Microsoft is a huge company and with many, many irons in the fire. A "fatal flaw" that they don't get consumers? If anything, they are well positioned to do what is most needed in this economy: Fail Fast, Move Forward. If anything, I think what we're seeing is that Microsoft is becoming much more strategic about fighting in the consumer space. I do agree that their Cortana strategy is baffling, except to say that it follows the paradigm that has worked for them from the beginning: build a platform, let other entrepreneurs make it dance. Amazon, Google and Apple all own the ecosystem for their assistants...
  • Thanks for your comment DCTonka. Actuall,your point about many irons in the fire during the time of many of the "side project" cancellations of the consumer products mentioned is actually part of the point. For sake of word I count I omitted an admission by Friedman that the I believe the ultramobile PC concept didn't get the support it needed because MS was focusing on Vista at the time. The problem was the "side project" mentality combined with the impact of the siloed departments and lack of cooperation of the pre-One Microsoft culture. Great ideas and innovative, potentially market-changing/leading products were introduced but didn't get the support they needed to become what they could have become. Surface I think is a great example of a product that escaped that cultural flaw. It got company-wide support and inter-department collaboration to ensure great hardware/software synergy with Windows, OneNote, Pen, etc.. Then it got marketing support and business partnerships. So it can be done. :-)
  • The bigger issue is that MS hasn't been able to convince consumers that traditional x86 computing is usable and desirable for normal web based computing outside of 'work'. People only view desktop/windows laptop computing with work. That's why people are satisfied not updating from a PC they bought 8 years ago. No matter what Andromeda or other device that comes out, if it has the words 'MS' or 'Windows' anywhere on it, people will view it as something to be used at work, maybe school. That brand association has been around for over 10 years now.
  • Clearly, post the mouse era, consumer devices are not MS's strength. I would suggest it's the UI that MS needs to focus on, not hardware. A single client Windows/web stack for developers to embrace is required. By all means initiate new APIs within the Windows only front end, but port these s the web UI stack ASAP because that's the space where Google lies. UWP has to be 'web first'.
  • Don't forget the MS Tag barcode project. Yet another effort left to wither and die. Almost every consumer product MS has offered they let die. And I have bought almost all, except, thankfully the Band or the new Cortana speaker. But I owned Zune, WP, WM, Surface RT, Pro 1, and Pro 3. Its all so outrageous. No more trust. And news to MS: I don't want a "foldable journal" or a huge foldable thing that is a PC that's also a mobile phone. I just want a normal phone. MS should have bought Android or eventually just used android and skinned it as WM/WP or done something to allow Android apps to run on WM. WM was and is still the best phone OS and interface out there. Android pales in comparison. But Android has the apps. Shame on MS. Shame.
  • Have to agree. I just got a new Android phone a couple of weeks ago and am quite appalled at how poor the UI is across the 'phone. MS need to keep clear of the hardware space and just focus on rendering or remoting a great UI consistent with W10.
  • I have to agree. Every time I've picked up an Android phone and played around with it, it is the WORST experience. It totally sucks! It's appalling anyone would recommend this POS of a software. But in the name of "apps" people will use this. Well I'm sorry apps or no apps I can't stand to use the crappy software.
  • Microsoft is becoming like Apple, not IBM. The next step will probably they make they own arm CPU for the Surface Devices.
  • Microsoft is nothing like Apple. Dream on.
  • Yes it call surface Team
  • I still get updates on my Lumia 950 XL until spring 2020 😁 And the camera is freaking awesome and so is the outlook and calendar on this phone. Seems to me that they understand the customers fine. Our phones are supported just fine and so are the core apps. What else do we need? Ten new phones yearly that the market will not buy?
  • And now they are killing Groove. So my music on OneDrive suddenly becomes useless. So they want to force me to put money into Google? Have they thought about the consequences? Is their aim to drive me to the conclusion that, as a consumer, this is not a company that I want a relationship with? If that is their aim then they are succeeding.
  • Did a little research over the weekend and the current MS chairman of the board is a former IBM guy. He personally led the search for a new CEO... Nadella. The other board members are no better... in fact worse... all a bunch of rich executives from various non-tech industries ranging from banking to the clothing industry to soda industry to hotel industry. https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/board.asp?privcapId=21835 These folks don't care one lick about OneDrive, Windows mobile devices, Groove, UWP, the MS Store, Bing, Cortana, the Edge browser, MS Rewards, or really anything consumer. Nadella is doing what he was paid to do, kill off Microsoft's consumer "side projects". I agree that it now feels they are purposely, actively, pushing folks off their consumer products onto Google's consumer services. That's the only explanation I can come up with for killing Groove on Android. I think they WANT folks to move their music off OneDrive and onto Play. For that matter I believe they want us to move our Photos off OneDrive onto Google Photos too. And to discontinue our Office 365 Home subscriptions. Not lucrative enough for them I suppose. Would be nice if they'd just come out and say it... "Consumers it was a nice run but you're not welcome here anymore. We are solely focused on Enterprise offerings." At least then we could all go through the 6 stages of grief, and finally get some closure. And even more... stop sinking our hard earned disposable income in a Titanic platform. But my guess is that they are too cowardly to just come out with it. Instead they will just slowly but surely choke the life out of Consumer... bilking folks for every penny they can in the meantime.
  • Exactly. And it's the same thing happening over and over with Microsoft. Any past product / service they have killed in a similar way. How many times can they do that until there is no customer that would believe them any more? I certainly don't. But I have similar feelings about Google too. They both are not dependable and I prefer not to have any (serious) relation with them.
  • I think with all the circumstantial preliminary information on project andromeda, release a first concept in 2018 will be flawed. The problem will be windows 10 and the UI. In its current form, even as windows 10S will not deliver the best experience for this mobile formfactor device. I'm not sure if microsoft doesn't understand the consumer market per se. In my view, they've communicated obscurely what their real intentive focus is. The want to include consumers in the same sentence as business in their promotions and marketing. But they mainly seem focussed on business. In my view they're just not invested enough into looking into consumer aspects of hardware and software.
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  • As much as I like windows phone software,I'm enjoying what they get now.Its what they deserve,being complete morons,thinking that people will follow them as sheep,no matter what.Their own ignorance brought them where they are.
  • I just think that Microsoft is simply too big, too slow, too incompetent. It is only successful where the competition is not really levelled. Their salesmen are good and can sell anything to big companies, where often people making decisions do not understand the tech nor may they care about it much. I've been to many places and worked with many products and it didn't matter much how bad those products were. People complained but nothing changed. In consumer market it is so much different. If you find out a product is bad, you find and pick a replacement. Windows Phone was not bad, but it had so many smaller and/or bigger issues and MS was very slow in fixing them. You cannot survive in such a market with such an attitude. And it dropped products and their customers so often that nearly no one has any belief in MS anymore. Apple is expensive but users know they will be taken care of. And features and experiences Apple provides are usually fluid. Google is cheap and thus everywhere. Not much space for other players, especially since apps are the biggest thing and developers don't want and cannot support too many platforms. BlackBerry did a lot more than MS in much shorter time with a lot less resources and leapfrogged everyone with their BB10 OS. Still that did not helped them to get back to their old glory because the market was already divided. It will take a game changer to change the current status quo. Maybe PWA, maybe real pocket computers, maybe something else that will change the rules. And that will be very good for us customers as current situation is surely not good. We need bigger competition.