Re: Could Windows 10 spell death for Microsoft?
Poor Quality Assurance has killed many a large corporation, and the way Windows 10 is going could ruin Microsoft.
While the rest of the world continues to see them as "the Windows company," MS no longer sees itself in that way, and it appears from their behavior that they are doing their best to get out of the Windows market as we've known it. Windows is just a bit player in terms of MS profits these days, and it takes a disproportionate amount of resources to eke out that profit compared to the cloud stuff, and those development resources don't scale down as sales drop. With the PC sales numbers in decline and MS showing no evidence that they have even the slimmest bit of faith in the continued utility of the platform, no doubt they have predicted a date where under the old way of making money with Windows, it would cross from being a mild profit maker to a break-even, then into loss.
With "cloud first, mobile first" Nadella, this had to be a sign that Windows as we'd known it had outlived its usefulness to the company. Either it was going to have to be monetized in a big way, or it was going to have to die. Or both!
If this was the plan, MS would have to bring their full monopoly power to bear against their customers, forcing users of previous Windows versions into the line of fire so that they can be plundered mercilessly. MS has never been shy about wanting as much money as they could possibly extract from their customer base, but this was a line they would never have crossed back when they saw Windows as the golden goose.
That was always the thing that made me wonder, ever since the early days of GWX. How can a company behave this way and expect to keep their customers? Surely they must understand that you can only push people so far before they overcome vendor lock-in and inertia and look for shelter from the abuse dished out. The only conclusion that made any sense was that they had no intention of keeping their Windows customers. The aggressive forcing of Windows 10 in order to get people onto the monetization platform, and the merciless monetization of users once they succumbed to the Windows 10 pressures, would result in significant short-term revenue gains at the eventual cost of the Windows platform as we've known it. The monetization would continue until a tipping point was reached... eventually a suitable replacement for Windows would be found (whether something Googly or a Linux distro or both, or neither), and the few early movers would become a trickle, then a torrent, and finally all of that pent-up resentment at MS would trigger a mass exodus.
At that point, MS would be free to become the cloud services company Nadella wants them to be.
I question how well this would really work. Cloud services are inherently platform-agnostic, but if it is Google that ends up being the vendor that takes over as far as the local OS maker, they will have just infuriated all of their Windows-using customers who will have just welcomed Google representatives into their premises to oversee the changeover right at that moment when trust of MS was at an all-time low... and Google is also a cloud-services provider.
MS may want to shed their "Windows company" legacy, but if they do, they also shed their primary feeder into their own cloud services. Sure, MS cloud services are making money now, and lots of it-- but from whom? Windows customers, I would think. They may not have made as much as they wanted on the front-end, but the front-end drives the back-end. Getting rid of the front-end because the back-end makes more money just seems really stupid to me.
To the computing public, MS will always be the Windows company. If Windows is seen to be in decline, people will infer that MS is in decline, even if they hear that MS profits have never been higher. There was a point that AOL profits were never higher too, yet they were already doomed, even though neither they nor the investors knew it yet. If you take away people's natural on-ramp to the cloud services world and give them the idea, however mistaken it may be, that MS is in trouble, that could be all the prompting needed to drive customers into someone else's cloud.
Time will tell, of course. Maybe I am wrong about MS wanting to kill off Windows as we have known it (as a general purpose operating system), but I can't see any other way that treating their own customers like they have makes any sense at all. If MS could have abused their customers and monetized them mercilessly to improve the bottom line and keep the Windows platform strong and vibrant, why didn't they ever do that in the Gates or Ballmer eras? Did MS have higher regard for customers before now, or did they just not like making money as much as they do now?