Technalysis Research
Previous Guest Columns

March 5, 2014
Commentary: The smart wearables debate: Fashion vs. function

February 22, 2014
Commentary: The battle for the first log-in of the day

January 30, 2014
Commentary: The tablet market is slowing -- long live the smartphone

January 10, 2014
Commentary: Hardware companies try to reinvent themselves

TECHnalysis Research Guest Column

April 4, 2014
Opinion: A new era for Microsoft?

FOSTER CITY, Calif. -- Let's be honest.

It's been easy to bash Microsoft the past few years. The company tossed up a fair number of softballs — Windows RT; the "Metro" interface; Live Mesh, no make that SkyDrive, no, sorry, really it's OneDrive; Windows Mobile; Surface….you get the idea.

In some instances, it's not that the products or services were all that bad. But the manner in which Microsoft brought them to market somehow managed to leave a bad taste in mouths of those who were watching.

There was also a brash, egotistical feel to many of them that turned people off -- made worse by the fact that most felt the arrogance was completely undeserved. Not surprisingly, the market also took a rather dour view toward them, keeping their stock languishing for some time.

But things are different now, or at least they're certainly starting to look that way. The stock price is at historic highs, there's a new more modest, "let's get it done" type attitude and, most importantly, a rash of new products and services that are filling in the gaps or fixing the problems they've been saddled with (in some cases, self-inflicted) for some time.

Between the "at long-last" delivery of a positively reviewed Office for iPad last week, to the grand unification theory of Windows 8.1 for PCs, tablets and phones, and numerous other announcements this week at their Build developers conference, they're starting to put together a story and an image of a company with a new-found mission.

The most intriguing part is Microsoft is building a vision of software that moves above and beyond device platforms—arguably the core of the company — to one where they provide services at a higher "metaplatform" layer that isn't dependent on other operating systems. In a sense, it's a twist on the classic "embrace and extend" philosophy that drove the software giant for years.

Of course, it's easy and tempting to give the credit for all these developments to new CEO Satya Nadella and he unquestionably deserves some of it. But, you don't write the code for new versions of Office, Windows and Windows Phone (among many others), launch new services like their Enterprise Mobility Suite, or put together critical new strategies in the 50-plus days since he's taken the top role.

Clearly, these efforts have been going on for quite some time and, importantly, seem to reflect a more modest company that seems keenly aware of its need to earn and maintain its status as an industry leader — and not assume it should be there.

Certainly, the company faces many challenges ahead in regaining its status. Plus, turning companies around — especially big ones that many industry participants and observers had become something of a dinosaur — is not an easy, nor a short-term task.

But, as long-time Microsoft watchers have started to note, the signs are encouraging the company is focusing its energies in such a way that Google, Apple, and others will no longer be able to pass them off as irrelevant.

Here's a link to the original column:

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