Microsoft’s Ten Year Failure Enters Third Decade

In 2010, Apple did exactly what Apple does best: create a ready-to-use platform which both consumers and developers can take immediate advantage of. iPad is perhaps the third-most astonishing tech consumer device in history. 

Since its inception, Gates lead Microsoft as a software-only vendor, and only began getting in the black after Jobs brought Word to the Mac. Those halcyon days didn’t last long, for as soon as Gates had his chance, he revealed his true colours. 

Through until Apple released iPod, MS was focussed on being a software vendor with an integrated operating system: hardware was not on the cards. The Zune marked Gates’ first hardware integration and was a failure of epic proportions which very few people even know of. 

Gate’s second attempt at an integrated product was just as un-recallable: the iSlate was the result of his at preempting Jobs’ tablet, but it was effectively deleted from space-time with iPad’s launch day. Gates’ second attempt, Surface RT, not only was slow and weak, bit also lured customers by association with Apple. Not his first betrayal in this vein, but it certainly burned through billions of dollars in unrecoverable investment. 

Now in 2020, MS has slowly, SO slowly, continued pivoting away from software-only into integrated hardware. Apple began as such in the late 70s. How is it that MS and billionaire Billy Goat have been unable to duplicate a fraction of Apple’s profitability in consumer products?

After 25 years, XBox has finally begun to see lower failure rates and higher customer satisfaction, but Apple achieved those and a LOT more straight out of the gate with most of its products, not just one. No other MS-branded hardware has seen the light of day, and the ancient-but-newly-released Courier not only is already failing, it does not even run MS software. 

From its inception, MS has been built, of course by Gates, to be a business-focussed endeavour. Very few people – not including me – have ever bought a copy of Windows. Office profits exceeded Windows’ some years ago. People were never MS’s customers until Zune. 

Apple’s customers have always been us – the people in the street. Apple’s – and specifically Jobs’ – efforts with Xerox Parc to develop  windows as the GUI moved computing lightyears ahead of dismal and horrid DOS. The origins of these two companies clearly illustrates the vast differences in business cultures, and thusly, the nature of the products they release to the public. 

MS has indicated a sea-change from its vendor focus to be consumer-focussed, yet the expensive-yet-low-quality, and pointedly, low customer satisfaction ratings, of its integrated hardware efforts reveal a critical inability at MS to approach people. 

Surface has gradually been extended into a variety of ‘imaginative’ products, but the dual-CPU/GPU products have high failure rates, the desktop which despite an astonishing price tag is slow and laggy due to MS using a SPINNING HARD DRIVE inside, and the material on the keyboards of cheaper devices quickly becomes stained and dirty from natural oil and sweat. 

MS has hugely profitable businesses with Windows, Office and Server, where it is insulated from dissatisfaction and quality: no hardware maker can afford to damage their anti-competitive licensing agreements with MS by installing Linux; most people cannot not use Office; and few businesses consider investing more now to pay less later by exiting the MS ecosystem. 

All of these business practices have rendered Microsoft, regardless of ‘leadership’, incapable of reorienting toward customers in the near future. Perhaps by 2030, if climate change hasn’t already begun significantly undermining our global society by then, MS might actually begin to copy what actually makes Apple popular: customer satisfaction.