Benny's Adventures

Microsoft is Not an End-Stage Company

Paul McDougall over at InformationWeek makes a claim I consider ludicrous: Microsoft will not be around more than a decade.

To be fair McDougall doesn’t come out and say that Microsoft will wither away and die as a company but judging by the language used in the rest of the article I can’t imagine him conveying anything else.

And perhaps he is just taking this stance to draw traffic to the site. In any case I’d still like to toss in my two-cents.

I do believe that Microsoft is going through a tough time. The market is changing and Microsoft has had its missteps. Remember Vista? Come to think of it, I seem to remember people saying Microsoft was dying when Vista was having trouble. Windows 7 came around and is considered pretty successful. Ah but guess what, it’s Windows 7’s success that is dooming it!

Microsoft – and in fairness, Apple as well – always has its detractors and these claims repeat every year if not every week but they continue to survive and thrive.

The first piece of evidence is Internet Explorer’s market share. This is one of the areas where Microsoft is struggling but with IE9 looking to compete strongly with the other browsers in the most popular game now – speed – Internet Explorer will become more competitive. That’s not to say it will or will not lose more market share but at some point the internet browser market will reach a steady-state (given no large disturbances such as Chrome or Firefox suddenly becoming unbeatable) and Microsoft is setting up to have a large of the pie as possible when the equilibrium is reached.

McDougall makes a short claim about smartphones and I think he does this without really knowing what’s going on. Windows Phone 7 has recently come out and though it has its faults it also shows promise.

One thing McDougall makes a mistake in is not giving value to the PC market share Microsoft holds now (>90%). Apple survived and thrived having a very low market share for a long time and then took off when the iPod came out. Apple was able to leverage a developing market, find success, and use that success to fuel further endeavors. Similarly Microsoft has the potential to leverage their success in the PC market to improve in other sectors.

It’s not a guarantee for success by any means but there are signs indicating that Microsoft is slowly but surely getting the right idea. And fortunately for Microsoft they can afford to be slow and sure because of the market share.

McDougall ends with some dubious statistics:

Market research group NPD recently found that 13% of iPad users bought the Apple OS-based device instead of a Windows PC.

This bit of data fails to mention if anybody in that 13% already owned a PC. While McDougall posits this statistic as a definitive number it really isn’t and I immediately see that as a huge (and frustrating) hole in his argument.

And do you know anyone under 30 who uses anything but a phone for the bulk their personal computing and communications needs these days?

I understand that this is an opinion piece but opinions based on faulty sampling is not something I’d be proud of displaying as what I believe. Before I get into a straw-man argument… I’ll move on.

McDougall starts with this:

I believe that Microsoft as we know it may not be around in another decade–maybe not even in five years.

This is not a bad thing. I think this is precisely what Microsoft needs for continued success – change.

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30 October 2010 - Posted by | Technology | , , , ,

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