The problem is that no obvious replacement exists....
Bill Gates has time on his hands.
Microsoft has released its financial results for the third financial quarter of 2013 and the results make uncertain reading for CEO Steve Ballmer, who is also about to lose his chief financial officer Peter Klein. Redmond reported revenues of $20.49bn for the three months ended 31 March, up 17.2 per cent year-on-year, and …
If you look at any MS stock graph you see huge increases while BG was running the place. Hand over to SB and Microsoft essentially flat-lines from there out.
Reinstalling BG would do wonders for reinvigorating stock confidence. He might not deliver anything, but it would at least give the stock price a nice kick and allow a lot of people to make a lot of money (or lose it depending which end you're on).
Jobs had character defects, but at least the company didn't have a near permanent presence in the courts.
BG has defects that make it appear he considers the law and user rights as a mere inconvenience, only to be paid attention to when it gets in the way of sales or when a pesky EU gang hauls him into the dock for practices his company got away with in the US. This is why I often compare Google with Microsoft - practically the same modus operandi including flinging around a frankly incredible amount of BS to cover it all up:
"The bold bets we made on cloud services are paying off as people increasingly choose Microsoft services including Office 365, Windows Azure, Xbox LIVE, and Skype," said chief Steve Ballmer in a canned statement. "While there is still work to do, we are optimistic that the bets we've made on Windows devices position us well for the long-term."
Thus, I don't think bringing BG back will help the company, Sure, the stock would spike, but anyone with half a braincell would at that point sell. Which means the shares would drop again.
Ballmer is a classic lieutenant: prepared to faithfully do the master's bidding, however weird, illegal or idiotic it was ("developers, developers, developers - and deodorant"). These people don't fare well without masters because they don't have vision themselves (that's why they're such good right hand men - no threat). It is easy to be a threat to Ballmer, just be visionary or smarter - and Ballmer will eject you. What is left is not going to help MS in any way, shape or form because Ballmer will see that as a threat instead of good leadership. Thus, it remains Ballmer who is standing at the rudder, watching the surrounding water levels rise.
From an outsider perspective they don't rise: it's because the ship has been sinking for quite some time. The good news for Ballmer is that it happens very, very slowly - this will take many more years.
"Jobs had character defects, but at least the company didn't have a near permanent presence in the courts."
Not for lack of trying, after all he was the one who was going to go thermonuclear on Android and the one who let slip in his memoirs that he had colluded with publishers to increase the price of ebooks.
MS are in a perfect storm of their own making. They got lazy and allowed the mobile and cloud markets to run off without them. With controversial approaches to Office and Windows not going down well with either enterprise or consumers, their highly detrimental and desperate focus of competing in the tablet market has ruined the PC market and lost them some already struggling friends. They look like a firm without a clue how to get back into the game and a radical change of thinking is needed at the top.
I doubt many would shed a tear for MS at this difficult time. Particularly with a dinosaur at the helm in a market where you need either a visionary, or an in touch-with-the-modern-world CEO, neither of which Ballmer seems to be.
They also seem to have got stuck in telling us what we want rather than simply listen to what we're telling them. Complaints about Metro aren't exactly difficult to find after all and it's a pity they don't pay more attention to them beyond offering the option to boot direct to the desktop in 8.1 (perhaps they'll end up having to release an '8.1.1 for
workgroups desktop users' so that TIFKAM can be removed entirely?).
Some executive somewhere at Microsoft is probably so emotionally invested in the whole Metro - TIFKAM? - thing that they seem to be completely incapable of seeing how much people would rather get rid of it. I guess working at a large corporation really *is* like living in a Dilbert strip...
While Internet Explorer 9 was in public beta, I sincerely tested it and tried just about every new feature it promoted. Long before I knew of the Metro fiasco, I noticed an inconsistency in the UI when you pinned a website to the taskbar - what effectively acted as the home button to take you back to the root of that website, the website's icon, was to the left of the Back button, while the home button itself disappeared for a pinned window. The inconsistency itself isn't that the home button disappeared but that its effective replacement suddenly moved from the right side of the window to the left. I reported that inconsistency as a bug, actually thinking it might have been something they hadn't addressed yet, only to be told that that inconsistency was by design.
What I described is a minor detail (and I personally know of only one person that uses pinned websites... and only because I pinned it for her to make it convenient to log into Facebook), but that very same response appeared to bug reports about Metro - that everything about it was by design, even as the complaints grew.
Yes, I get it - they have a vision. The problem is that their vision is incomplete and quite simply what the vast majority of people want. For the moment at least, both OS X and other *nix desktops are a niche market, so Apple and *nix desktop developers have more freedom to experiment with interfaces if for no other reason than they don't have to satisfy as many people.
Most people still use Windows for two primary reasons - their legacy applications work on it, and they're used to its interfaces (graphical and otherwise). With Metro, they've just lost their GUI familiarity, and with Windows RT, they've lost their legacy applications. People who use Windows expect it to look and feel like Windows.
PS: Curse the lack of an edit button. I was looking at the wrong tab when I first responded...
...that everything about it was by design...
It's the same with office too. They've changed the way protection works in Excel 2013 and other office applications so that it deliberately works more slowly. Apparently this is done to make brute force attacks more time consuming to perform, but it's irritating nevertheless. Working with a large workbook used to take ~1 minute. Now it takes nearer 10.
Yet again we have Microsoft telling us what we want without bothering to ask why we're using these features. In my case it's more to do with stopping users doing boneheaded things rather than protect information as such, but rather than listen to what users are telling them - there are plenty of complaints online if you go looking for them - they prefer to parrot the line about this being done 'by design' and there being no fix for it. They keep on repeating that this change has been made to comply with ISO standards, but this seems to ignore that those same ISO standards are based on Microsoft's own work.
In short Microsoft seem to be telling the users 'this is what we're going to do whether you like it or not - screw you'.
(and it would be nice to have editing features wouldn't it? personally I'm not sure why they would want to restrict this to members that have badges since a post with errors in affects them as much as anybody else)
Hah hah, a 'perfect storm' of year over year revenue increases and 2 billion dollars NET PROFIT a month? That is my kind of perfect storm!
Enterprises are pretty much all locked in to multi year agreements for Win/Office, which they have already paid for.
The phone business finally appears to be firing. It is now clear that WP will replace BB as the third major mobile ecosystem.
So yeah, a bit of work needs to be done in the consumer tablet space. But with $63 billion in the bank, increasing by $2 billion every month, I doubt MS are sweating it too badly. I guess tablets probably have a two/three year refresh cycle, so given their lateness to market MS will not get the initial sale but will be able to have a go at the refresh sale.
It is now clear that WP will replace BB as the third major mobile ecosystem.
Yeah, sure. Let's just bet corporate secrets on a company that has as yet to manage to bring out a single product that is even remotely secure, against a company that lost track of the fact that people want the occasional modernisation, but who have established a reasonable (but incomplete) reputation for security.
I don't think so. The fact that MS has fallen hard on its face in these markets before is not helping either - nobody is willing to bet on a horse that has as yet to manage actually finishing a race, let alone win it.
Yeah, a bit weird.
I'd be up towards the front of the queue to give ol' Steve the boot :D but you've got to wonder at the logic of dissing the performance of a company that increased profitability *substantially* during a market downturn and the CFO leaves in disgrace.
That's business for you, fickle and weird.
Yes, came here to say just this. I looked a the headline figures and thought "blimey that growth rate looks pretty healthy". The downgrade is due to struggling Windows 8, tablet and phone strategy however. so I suppose Goldman's point is that this is the high water mark.
I guess the CFO is looking at the current sales figures, and going >gulp<
Nobody is writing MS off but the figures are relatively poor. The last year includes lost of Windows 7 + Office 2010 rollouts by corporates before XP runs out. Such business is certainly nice to have but does not count as growth. That was supposed to come across the board: from mobile, from consumers, from SaaS. But that growth hasn't materialised. In the meantime the PC market has entered terminal decline while everybody else's phones and tablets are selling like hotcakes.
Usually in a situation like this the geek(s) heads would roll so it's kind of cool that the finance guy is getting heat. The downside is that this time it is the fault of the geeks who are responsible for Windows 8. I fancy myself adaptable and I even like the Ribbon but damn it all Win 8 is awful.
Don't know about him, but my views after having used it for 4 months:
- Every icon normally added to the start menu gets sprayed onto the Metro start screen after an install, so I have to keep re-arranging the icons there.
- Some metro icons can take two tiles, Some can't. It's not clear why that is.
- Changing a shortcut's properties means locating the 'file' it's associated with, then changing the properties of that file.
- Lesser-used icons for programs that I have installed fill (on my 1920x1200 resolution screen) 4 screens of (largely) disorganized icons.
- Search is useful if and only if you know the name of the lesser-used program you are looking for
- But not if that program is an 'app'. Those sort and display differently.
- Some computer settings (lock screen, user accounts, user account types) are available in a Metro settings panel. Some of those are also available in the control panel but with different options.
- Every time a Metro app that can read different file types gets updated, Windows asks me again if I'd like to use it to open this file I clicked on.
- Management of networks (wireless or otherwise) is entirely at the command line using the netsh command. Windows will still 'see' the same network as 'different' from time to time, so you'll still see connections to 'network 12' or some such.
- Can't change an automatically-detected 'private' network to a 'public' or 'home' network or vice versa. Those settings still affect the firewall rules though, so if it's mis-detected you get to use netsh some more.
- I keep turning media sharing off. It keeps showing up in the network locations, with one instance for each user account. None of them work though, because media sharing is turned off.
- Changing file file associations works for some applications and file types. For others it doesn't work. If the file name of the program you want to use happens to be the same as the one you used to use, it will never work. This is even if you change it in the registry.
- Desktop 'charms' mean that overshooting into a corner (desktop or Metro mode) mean that you can (and will) accidentally activate something you didn't want to at some point or another.
Weirdness that isn't well documented:
- The system-wide search tool is the same search tool you use to search inside Metro apps like the Microsoft app store. This isn't mentioned anywhere that I could find in the Windows help. Google found that though.
- If you want to open a second instance of a program (a second notepad window, for example) the process is:
- Go to the metro screen
- Right-click on the app tile
- Select 'open new window' from the charm bar at the bottom of the metro screen.
- Hibernate, a feature I've been using since Windows XP, is now so unreliable that I have disabled it. The 'clue' that Windows gives you if it can't restore your state is particularly helpful - it turns the computer back off. Unless you are in a dark room, it's easy to miss that the computer you just turned on isn't on any more...
That's just off the top of my head. I've got more if you want them.
I initially 'upgraded' so I could determine if it would be useful to roll this out inside my company. After using it for a while, I can't imagine a time when I'd want to do that, so we will be skipping this version and advising others to do the same. Maybe Windows 9 will not get in the way as much as 8 does. Maybe we'll all just switch to Macs.
Thanks for that full overview, very helpful.
Maybe we'll all just switch to Macs
I've spent the last half year almost exclusively helping companies doing just that. It's easier if they are small - large corporates which were weaned off sensible concepts such as Open Standards have dug themselves in so deep that extracting it will take more long term planning, but even there I have helped kickstart projects to do just that.
Personally, I don't really believe in a monoculture - I believe in "best for the job". That's why I like Open Standards - it removes the need for one type of desktop. It also helps at a strategic level, especially companies going on an acquisition tour should start with getting their own house in order. It can add about 2 months of revenue of the newly bought organisation to the bottom line with every merger..
One possibility is current low sales have been inflated by expected future sales and even if real sales pick up considerably they might not reach the level required to cover the imaginary sales figures they've been putting forward. Good time to leave before the cops get you.
I do find the comments section of the Reg amusing. Post a ‘Microsoft Profit Announcement ‘ news piece and the usual people start frothing at the mouth and writing about the demise of MS, even though the company is in rude health financially and is going from strength to strength. I mean, they are making $2 billion a month profit. Not revenue, or turnover, but PROFIT!!
But the really funny thing is the vitriol of the posters. You would think MS ran over their puppy.
What makes me chuckle is that that most of the views & opinions I hear in the comments section were formed many years ago. The commentards have obviously spent many years nurturing these feelings of resentment. I guess they must have formed these opinions based on what MS was doing in the late nineties, or the turn of the century.
The funny thing is though that most of the people who were making those decisions at MS in those days have left. They made so much money that they no longer need to work for a living. Anyone still left at MS from those days works there through choice, not necessity.
So, even if the commentards best wishes came true, and MS goes down the plug hole, the people who made the decisions that they so hated will not be affected. They are already set up for life and nothing can take that away from them.
$8Bn profit on $60Bn of cash isn't a good rate of return for a software company. It's not even good ROI for a rental property. Companies that in theory only have to push out free to make online downloads of products that they built years ago are expected to make a little more
The analysts real question is where do they see MSFTs stock price in another 10 or 20 years time. Will we still be queuing up to buy DVDs of Windows19 and upgrade to Office2033?
> Will we still be queuing up to buy DVDs of Windows19 and upgrade to Office2033?
Nope, we'll (or our successors will) have their credit cards slurped by the minute to use Windows 300 and Office 240 (numbers based on the days of uptime per year the "cloud" will have).
MS CLOUD FAIL
(Let's see... "tech genius" icon - check; all-caps byline - check. Missing anything? I'm surprised the "Big E" hasn't been around. What an ironic name to call him.)
What a load of pish. You are muttering about 'rate of return'. MS has returned well over $100 billion to shareholders via dividends. I would rather have the divi then see them spend the $$ on some stupid project, for example, building ugly glasses for socially retarded nerds that will just get them beaten up/mugged more often.
And 13.5% on property investments? Hhhhmmmm. most of the muppets in property manage about 6% gross. You are either bucking the trend or lying. I know which I would guess.
Windows 8: failing, business don't want, nor do consumers.
Office irrelevant and overpriced for home users and no real shout about features for a decade.
Windows Phone; dead
Xbox: Almost Dead.
Really what do Microsoft have that's worth anything anymore???
I agree with most of those pionts except the x-box. Although I only expect the x-box to last one maybe two more generations.
Lets face it, the majority of microsofts xbox related profit comes from xbox exclusives owned by microsoft. Next generation both microsoft and sony are going to a more PC-centric architecture. The majority of 360 peripherals already work on PC as it is.
With a more PC like architecture I see more of the first party games coming out on console and pc, and the following generation just pushing it all to PC. Just personal opinion, no real fact to back it up but it many ways it makes sense.
Nobody likes being a loser, and in their two generations Microsoft has come last place twice now. (xbox destroyed by ps2, 360 recently overtaken by ps3 although only by a small margin, defeated completely in europe, japan and the rest of the world, the only place microsoft saw victory was USA)
I honestly believe microsoft would be better suited shifting more of their console games to PC this generation (after a delay of course) after all, PC gaming was killed by the console rapidly overtaking them for a period, it's only right that PC destroy the console in return now that the playing field has been evened out.
Microsoft are very good at fooling people with carefully crafted press releases.
What people fail to realise, the Xbox is a massive failure for Microsoft, much beyond them being in last place this generation (something they have been continually shouting about how how irrelevant Sony was they they were in last place, but now the tables have turned, not so bullish).
With a 50% or higher failure rate. How many of those 70m console sales are turning into users? 40m at best. Of which only half of those bother paying for XBox lIve....
In other words, a paying userbase of 20m. How is that not a total and utter flop.
They have.....drum roll...a bunch of LEGACY products that make them $2bn a month in profit.....
Fixed it for you. Nobody is buying their new stuff, as Microsoft have totally and utterly failed to move with the times. The new IBM.....
They "totally and utterly failed to move with the times" Really, and that's why for example their Server and Tools division grows in double digits for the last several years ? :-)
The new IBM - wonderful! IBM is a great company with very solid profitability and great R&D.
You know, toys are not everything...
Apple and Android are benefiting from the consumerisation of IT. Microsoft's response is a hybrid consumer/business OS - Metro in the front, Windows in the back (hence the mullet analogy).
Time to split off a real consumer brand (Xbox tablets & phones?), and refocus on making Windows/Office the best possible business machines? Or is it already too late?
... to realize that a lot of businesses are still running XP and are quite happy with it. When they kill XP, they imagine all those businesses will upgrade to Windows 8. HA bloody HA!
Ok, there's Windows 7, which is perhaps less painful. Even so, lack of drivers will obsolete a lot of hardware, and lack of RAM will obsolete a lot of PCs. And there's no real upgrade path. MS say you should upgrade to Vista and then from Vista to Windows 7. Sorry I feel another attack of graveside laughter coming on. Even if it worked, how many extra man-hours will that consume?
Given the requirement to tear it all up and start again, how many will stick with Microsoft, and how many will go to Apple? Some may even find time for Linux. Those that do stick with Microsoft are unlikely to bear any goodwill for Microsoft in the future. Sooner or later someone will ship a Linux derivative for business use (just as Google shipped a Linux derivative for handset and tablet use: Android).
So what they have to do now is simple. Announce that XP will continue to be supported until an idiot-proof upgrade to Windows 7 is developed. And annnounce that you'll never have to learn a new interface because the Windows 7 one will be maintained in perpetuity (ie Windows 8, Windows 9 will have a "Windows 7 style" option). Ditto Office.
Oh, and to make money stop selling perpetual Windows licenses. That way you won't have to keep shredding old Windows in order to force customers to use New Windows. You'll just charge them renewal fees for continued support of what they want. Of course, it would help if your customers trusted you more than they trust a low-end used-car salesman. Sacking the CEO might be a good start, followed by a new CEO eating humble pie.
Not that I particularly want to defend MS here but the lack of an upgrade path for a desktop OS should be pretty much irrelevant in a lot of business environments. If your IT bods don't know how to create baseline images and push out software automatically then I suggest you go and speak to someone about getting new IT bods!
I've visited my bank account this morning. I can now confirm my future is more uncertain then Balmer's.
Seriously, those folks claiming Win7 is not a serious improvement over WinXP are unknowledgeable. More a religious statement to propagate hate against Microsoft then any actual fact. We have boost PC speed here 4 to 1 ratio moving from WinXP_32 to Win7_64. CAD stations boosted hundreds of time moving from WinXP AutoCAD 10 to Win7_64 AutoCAD 13. Things that used to take 10 to 20 minutes just to zoom in and out (extra large CAD drawings) are now instantaneous with the same hardware.
Sorry. I used to hate Microsoft, but I enjoy that company more and more. Windows 8 is very easy to "upgrade" to "interface-like-win-7" and then you enjoy faster speed. Better manageability. et.c. Read my lips. I hate Metro. Then so what ??? I don't care !!! All you need is to boost memory to over 8 gig. Preferably 16 gig. It cost nothing and is an excellent wait to keep your PC four more years. I thank Microsoft for that. Driver compatibility was no issue here. Rock solid. Never bombs. Thank Microsoft for that.
So what are you saying? They sold us shoddy product before?
<< Long time Windows user. I cannot believe how badly the Win8/Office 2013/Visual Studio 2012 ecosystem has nosedived. Looks like they let a bunch of art students loose on the products instead of asking how real people use them.
call me mad but personally i dont think microsoft are in TOO much trouble. at the end of the day you could say win7 was their starter for touch but windows 8 does make a good stepping stone in the right direction. I just got myself a hp envy and i have to say windows 8 pro on a touchscreen has been nailed down. Granted metro is ugly and redundant and this can be fixed, but in terms of how it works it is a good system. excellent desktop features, speedy and even from the first beta still not had 1 crash or problem with it. however i would like to see the 'start menu' put down into a smaller menu like windows 7 and previous versions that could be pulled out to be fullscreen or various sized dependant on taste. this could start with your app list and then have sub menus to scroll through ie my computer docs etc, meaning minimum effect to desktop function but also taking touch and smaller screens into mind. you could also then snap the start menu for instance to the right of the screen as you would an app and use them both side by side. but hey thats me many of you will disagree with this so just back off fools i dont really care if your gunna hate
Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019