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Steve Ballmer is pained by his company's struggles, but his attempts to turn around his company's struggling units have seen little success thus far.   (Source: Reuters)

Microsoft Zune is one of the company's struggling products. Others include its search efforts, its mobile phone efforts, and its tablet efforts.  (Source: LIFE)
CNN Money says that the end may be near for Microsoft's attempts to appeal to the masses

Amid record profits Microsoft has serious cause for concern.  It is coming off the high of the fastest-selling operating system in its history -- Windows 7.  That OS sent its profits soaring and convinced some that Microsoft was no longer on the retreat.

But part of Windows 7's success was due to how poorly received Vista was.  With Windows 8 landing reportedly in 2012, the company may have significant difficulties in convincing the average consumer to upgrade to its latest and great OS.

Other than the Windows brand, Xbox and Microsoft Office are the company's other two major successes in the consumer sector.  But the Xbox trails Nintendo's “family friendly” Wii and the Office team is getting seriously nervous about growing consumer interest in OpenOffice.

On the other hand, Bing has failed to gain even 10 percent of the search market in most metrics, despite a massive ad push and a deal with Yahoo. Zune remains a tiny player in the MP3 market, having failed to become a true competitor in terms of sales to Apple's iPod line.  And Microsoft's smartphone empire, once a major player, is in rebuilding mode after the disastrous Kin and ill-received Windows Mobile 6.5.  It is placing its hopes on Windows Phone 7, but that phone enters a packed market.

Internet Explorer, Microsoft's browser, has long led the market, but has seen a steady decline in recent years, which may allow Firefox and Chrome to eventually reach its formerly insurmountable market share peak.  Microsoft's key hope here is a new product, Internet Explorer 9.  

So while it seems that 
CNN Money's recent headline, "Microsoft is a dying consumer brand", is a bit sensational, it is a claim that is grounded in some reality.  

One of the key points in the article is that aside from the struggles of many of Microsoft's consumer "expansion" business units, it is also bleeding executive talent, like many other struggling firms (HP, Yahoo, etc.).  States the report, "Microsoft's executive suite is in turmoil. CFO Chris Liddel, entertainment unit head Robbie Bach, device design leader J Allard and business division chief Stephen Elop have left within the past year. Ray Ozzie joined the exit parade last week."

The report praises Microsoft's recent efforts, but concludes in cautionary fashion, "Microsoft just has to hope [they're] not too late."

Much like the Romans or Greeks, Microsoft has built a mighty empire, a key part of which are expansions into new arenas -- in Microsoft's case phones, video game consoles, and internet services.  

But much like the Roman empire fell, Microsoft appears dangerously close to losing its expansions to hungrier parties.  But much like Rome, it will likely hold on to its central holdings (Windows, Internet Explorer, Xbox, and Microsoft Office) for some time, even if its other efforts fall into commercial purgatory.

The talent gap is absolutely a concern for Microsoft.  And equally concerning is the fact that the company is being led by Steve Ballmer.  Mr. Ballmer, while a brilliant tactician in some regards and a man with obviously enormous love for the company, has failed to execute a strategy to turn around the company's struggling units -- or one that works at least.  

To succeed, Microsoft may need to move on without Mr. Ballmer.  But who to pick to lead the world's largest software company, perhaps the most powerful technology company in the world?  The leading candidates have already left the company.  That means that, essentially, there's no easy answer to Microsoft's leadership issues and that the ongoing risk to the company is tremendous.

Is Microsoft's consumer brand "dying"?  Not yet, in our minds.  But it lacks the hunger that it once did.  And it most certainly sorely misses the leadership of its founder and chief visionary -- Bill Gates.



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Judged by ratings...
By jskirwin on 10/27/2010 2:21:28 PM , Rating: 4
A similar thing can be said about CNN.




RE: Judged by ratings...
By dusteater on 10/27/2010 2:26:53 PM , Rating: 4
Exactly true.

And I think Microsoft has also been treated unfairly worldwide in anti-trust cases. If anyone deserves that it should be Google, who really is an internet search/advertising monopoly, but of course no one will go after them. Because Microsoft is evil right? And Google's motto is "Don't Be Evil", so they must not be?

It's just a shame Microsoft is forced to work twice as hard as anyone else in these fields because of old biases.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By Spivonious on 10/27/2010 2:33:35 PM , Rating: 4
Exactly.

Apple bundles all sorts of software with OSX and receives praise. Microsoft bundles a fraction of that and receives lawsuits.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By Shadowself on 10/27/10, Rating: -1
RE: Judged by ratings...
By sprockkets on 10/27/10, Rating: -1
RE: Judged by ratings...
By jhb116 on 10/27/2010 7:22:41 PM , Rating: 4
Are you even old enough to use Netscape? The reason IE took over - in large part - is because Netscape became bloated (much like many Microsoft products today) and lost its appeal.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By The Insolent One on 10/27/2010 8:24:41 PM , Rating: 2
I call bullshit here. I am old enough to remember Netscape and NCSA Mosaic (as if either of those matter).

Even as late in the game as when AOL bought Netscape, the Netscape browser was faster than IE.

Netscape's death was due to IE being integrated. Nothing more complicated than that.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By Boze on 10/27/10, Rating: 0
RE: Judged by ratings...
By The Insolent One on 10/27/2010 11:28:57 PM , Rating: 2
Methinks the name of that bundled suite was called Netscape Communicator.

I was only referring to the browser (Netscape Navigator).


RE: Judged by ratings...
By Fritzr on 10/28/10, Rating: -1
RE: Judged by ratings...
By JonnyDough on 10/28/2010 5:57:06 AM , Rating: 2
You said:

"present"
"penetration"
"keep experimenting until they find the combination"
and "crush"

all in the same sentence.

**Giggles like a little school girl**


RE: Judged by ratings...
By pjpizza on 10/28/2010 5:51:39 AM , Rating: 1
When IE 5.5 came around, Netscape required some Java version in the background, which just slowed down my browsing to a crawl. IE 5.5 worked like a charm, much much faster, and I'm sure that's around when Netscape died (good riddance!).

Netscape was maybe a little more in compliance with w3.org, but it ran like a freakin snail in tar...


RE: Judged by ratings...
By pjpizza on 10/28/2010 5:55:35 AM , Rating: 2
Not to say competition is bad… Thank goodness for competition (or maybe we’d be stuck with IE 5.5… Ewwwwwwww...)


RE: Judged by ratings...
By sprockkets on 10/27/10, Rating: 0
RE: Judged by ratings...
By Spivonious on 10/28/2010 8:35:35 AM , Rating: 2
ActiveX is no more a threat to standards than Flash or Java. It allowed COM controls to run in the browser.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By sprockkets on 10/28/2010 1:57:58 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah, and who was allowed to use ActiveX? Microsoft and Microsoft themselves.

As an example, the old SBC portal page for DSL signups was IE only. This caused major headaches for support since we couldn't register them ourselves, and IE on the majority of computers was hijacked into not working properly.

Thankfully that isn't the case since nowadays activex is depreciated.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By Shadowself on 10/27/2010 7:28:59 PM , Rating: 3
Microsoft had more than one anti trust suit in the U.S. The one concerning the integration of IE was the second major one. The first major one was over a totally different issue -- forcing hardware vendors to buy a MS OS even if they loaded another OS onto the sytem was the primary issue if I recall correctly. Additionally, Microsoft was caught doing things that never went to court (like having both public [slow] APIs that they told to ISVs and private [fast] APIs that they used internally for products like MS Office and other MS applications).

From the mid 80s to recent times there has been a long, long list of claimed malfeasance -- most of which has never been proven.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By Skywalker123 on 10/27/10, Rating: -1
RE: Judged by ratings...
By jonmcc33 on 10/28/2010 1:41:08 AM , Rating: 1
Guess how people got onto the web before Netscape and IE came along? They used the garbage that came with ISP CDs, such as AOL, Prodigy, etc. Microsoft included a free product with their OS so that people can use it instead of the crap that AOL provided.

The reason it took off so well wasn't because it was included with the OS per se. It was because Netscape became crap, especially after AOL acquired them.

The only bad thing that Microsoft did was ActiveX and not updating the browser for over 5 years. The reason I swtiched from Microsoft to Firefox wasn't security. It was stability and features (ie tabs). Of course Mozilla has became quite stagnant themselves with stability and features. With a vanilla install the browser is pretty featureless. It's also horribly unstable with Javascript. So I have since switched to Opera.

Anyway, it has nothing to do with including a free product with their OS. Apple does the same thing with Safari and nobody complains. It's their software so they can include it if they want. If you don't want to use it then use IE to go to your browser of choice's website and download it. End of problem.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By Reclaimer77 on 10/27/2010 6:52:32 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Microsoft incorrectly claimed -- to customers and even in court -- that removing IE from Windows would cripple Windows.


An OS that ships without a browser IS crippled by definition. How are you going to get drivers and software and etc etc without a browser!? You REALLY rather load up a third party browser off a floppy or disk before you can actually USE your OS??? In today's Internet driven times of complete connectivity with the world at all times, an OS without a browser is the dumbest possible idea you could come up with.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By Shadowself on 10/27/10, Rating: 0
RE: Judged by ratings...
By Reclaimer77 on 10/27/2010 8:39:49 PM , Rating: 2
To the end user, what's the difference?


RE: Judged by ratings...
By Shadowself on 10/28/2010 12:19:33 AM , Rating: 1
Huge difference.

To the average end user (and many, many corporate IT teams -- as what corporate IT decrees the end user must use) being told by Microsoft that the IE browser was an integral and non removable part of Windows made it the only browser they considered. If IE had been a stand alone app like Navigator or another browser, very likely people and organizations would have done comparisons and may not have chosen IE.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By zmatt on 10/28/2010 8:51:23 AM , Rating: 2
Actually Most IT departments are smart enough to make their own decisions about that. Speaking from an IT perspective, we use IE not because we choose to, but because a lot of the outdated and unstable specialty software that our users have will only work with IE 6. IT only has so much power. We can dictate what is on the machine until it pisses off the higher ups.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By Hieyeck on 10/28/2010 11:41:11 AM , Rating: 3
Not exactly true.

Until someone can build a browser that can be as locked down as IE via group policy, major corps will stick with IE.

Why lock down settings and choice? Remember, PEBKAC is the answer to most computer issues... Not that I'm complaining. It keeps me (and I suspect many other DT trolls employed).


RE: Judged by ratings...
By Reclaimer77 on 10/29/2010 6:50:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
To the average end user (and many, many corporate IT teams -- as what corporate IT decrees the end user must use) being told by Microsoft that the IE browser was an integral and non removable part of Windows made it the only browser they considered.


That makes no sense. First off show me where Microsoft "told" IT departments everywhere IE was the ONLY browser they could use.

Secondly, even if that was the case, think about it. So just because you think you can't uninstall a browser means you can't use another browser of your choosing? Huh? Explain to me how that makes sense. It's not like IE was 10 gigabytes and you couldn't just make another browser your default, delete the IE shortcuts, and go on your happy way as if IE didn't exist.

I haven't deleted IE from MY Windows, but I still use Firefox as my main browser and Chrome for other stuff. How is having IE on my machine adversely affecting my use of other browsers?

Your arguments are retarded. Seriously.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By sprockkets on 10/27/2010 10:29:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
An OS that ships without a browser IS crippled by definition. How are you going to get drivers and software and etc etc without a browser!? You REALLY rather load up a third party browser off a floppy or disk before you can actually USE your OS???


The point being made is that Microsoft falsified evidence to make it look like Win98 without IE would run slower. They were forced to admit they lied to the court.

Bundling IE wasn't so much an issue as Microsoft FORCING OEMs to not bundle Netscape or even Quicktime.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By Reclaimer77 on 10/28/2010 9:13:29 AM , Rating: 2
I fail to see, again, how bundling IE with Windows means OEM's also can't install a browser of their choosing as well.

Excuse me, but I guess I have missed the feature of IE that blocked all other browsers from working??

Please, it's ancient history anyway. Give it up.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By Hieyeck on 10/28/2010 11:45:12 AM , Rating: 1
Um... what kind of idiot are you...? Money, it always comes back to money. There's probably some stipuation how a Windows license costs X so long as IE is bundled.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By Reclaimer77 on 10/28/2010 9:29:20 PM , Rating: 2
You're the idiot. Microsoft does NOT make money off IE and never has. Arguing over what MS bundles with Windows is stupid in this respect, because once you have Windows MS has already profited from you anyway. MS is NOT in the browser business.

quote:
There's probably


Probably doesn't cut it. Either there is or there isn't, I'm leaning toward isn't.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By The Insolent One on 10/27/2010 6:38:10 PM , Rating: 2
I know this might be a little rudimentary for some of you, but purely what or how much you give away (bundle) has nothing to do with anti-trust issues.

However, when you have a virtual monopoly (95% + or -) in a very visible & growing market, and you give the appearance of using your freebies or bundling in a predatory way, that is what gets regulators salivating.

If you were to hand out $100 bills on the street to everyone who walks by, unless your company is a monopoly, no one would stop you.

And just to point out the obvious, neither Apple (nor anyone else) has even a majority of the market using their OS and/or apps.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By nowhereman95 on 10/29/2010 12:19:14 PM , Rating: 2
Why do you mention Apple? Do they still even make computers? Even if they do, do they matter? Time to move on.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By Taft12 on 10/27/2010 3:08:24 PM , Rating: 2
What does anything you just said have to do with MS's brand "dying".

Dying is indeed a tad sensationalist, but it sure doesn't have the mainstream consumer awareness of Apple or Google.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By mcnabney on 10/27/2010 3:11:01 PM , Rating: 2
I disagree. There are fully functional and accepted options to everything that Google does. If Google ceased to exist tomorrow we would all have to update some bookmarks and many would have to scamper for a new email provider. Can you imagine if Windows and Office were instantly gone. Could Mac and Linux really jump in and take over? Not likely. Microsoft has a true monopoly and controls the very environment that everyone else has to play on. Google is just a powerful company.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By Spivonious on 10/27/2010 3:19:10 PM , Rating: 5
If Microsoft failed, we'd all continue using the software we already own. When GM closed Pontiac, did all Pontiac cars suddenly break down?


RE: Judged by ratings...
By inighthawki on 10/27/2010 3:22:47 PM , Rating: 2
A monopoly does not just mean they have the majority of the market share. There are alternatives out there to Windows and Office, but just because nobody uses them doesn't mean Microsoft monopolizes that market.

For those living in the past, Microsoft is not a Monopoly just for having a large market share.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By The Insolent One on 10/27/2010 5:29:44 PM , Rating: 1
"Please define 'is'."

-Bill Gates August 28, 1998


RE: Judged by ratings...
By JakLee on 10/28/2010 6:16:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
"Please define 'is'."
-Bill Gates August 28, 1998


"It depends on what the meaning of the words 'is' is." –Bill Clinton, during his 1998 grand jury testimony on the Monica Lewinsky affair


RE: Judged by ratings...
By pyeager on 10/28/2010 10:56:33 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Can you imagine if Windows and Office were instantly gone. Could Mac and Linux really jump in and take over?


In a flash. Mac/Linux and OpenOffice.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By Da W on 10/27/2010 4:01:02 PM , Rating: 2
This is all old news. There is no deniying that Microsoft past 10 years have been a complete failure. Bing does not lift, windows mobile is dead, kin was a disater, Zune HD was not even pushed outside the US, Vista blah blah blah. Only Xbox worked.

It does not mean the future will be so. Microsoft is on every computer, every office, many living rooms, in Ford cars, i really believe their phone effort will pay, and they will have tablets. Their phone/search/tablet efforts are at zero for the moment, then they can only go up right? Their recent efforts since windows 7 has been top notch. Everybody knows the company and every pension plan owns the company.

But, Microsft is loosing market share in free internet browser software, down from their 100% market shares of years ago. OH MY GOD!!!!! THEY ARE DYING!


RE: Judged by ratings...
By inighthawki on 10/27/2010 5:19:51 PM , Rating: 2
I disagree, Bing is a great search engine, windows mobile took a break but we won't know if it's a failure until a few months from now, kin...ok, zune hd was awesome and recently went outside the US, xbox is a huge success. This is not to mention there is plenty of extra stuff they have done.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By Tony Swash on 10/27/10, Rating: -1
RE: Judged by ratings...
By acer905 on 10/27/2010 6:28:02 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. Strange feeling, but it's true...

Microsoft is going to become irrelevant in the future. Businesses aren't going to play the upgrade game just because MS wants to put out a new OS. This is especially true when the upgrade requires major hardware upgrades, and delivers limited productivity increases.

And, as consumers continue to show people, they want simple. They want pretty. They want the one with the Wifi's and the bigger GeeBee's. I doubt that i will abandon my desktop anytime in the near future, but many people will. Connected mobile devices, with a multitude of accessories (non-proprietary is best) for enhanced functionality (ie extra battery for long trips, Bluetooth keyboard for long text input, dock for monitor/desk usage) are where things appear to be heading.

Microsoft and Windows don't quite fit well into such a scenario.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By acer905 on 10/27/2010 7:53:27 PM , Rating: 2
For you Tony...

Just thinking about stuff... I can see a future product from Apple. They have been seemingly pushing the iPhone and iPad as the next best thing since sliced bread. iOS is getting fairly popular, and is getting features that make it productive (ie copy paste & multitasking). And, with the latest info on Lion, it seems like they are bringing the iOS experience to the desk.

Knowing their penchant for shiny, and seamless integration, it makes me wonder if their ultimate goal is to kill OSX (which would explain why they refuse to come up with, say OSXI, instead putting out 10.# versions) and completely replace it with iOS.

If this is their goal, I think i may have figured out a product for them. While tablets are fine as an on the go device, desk use is not their strong point. People really enjoy their large screens, and (for lengthy text input) physical keyboards. This is where my idea comes in.

Introducing the "iMac; Dock Edition". Imagine if you will a 24" widescreen monitor, with an integrated 1TB HDD, wireless mouse and keyboard, and iPad dock. When you are at home working on your term paper, just plug your iPad into the dock, and work as you have always worked. WHen you wish to leave, simply undock your iPad and take it as you go. But wait! there's more. Next to your iPad dock port is your iPhone dock port. Simply connect both devices to your "iMac; Dock Edition" and run apps from both, with all the power of both.

(to tell the truth... this actually sounds somewhat cool to me...)


RE: Judged by ratings...
By Tony Swash on 10/28/2010 5:51:10 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Introducing the "iMac; Dock Edition". Imagine if you will a 24" widescreen monitor, with an integrated 1TB HDD, wireless mouse and keyboard, and iPad dock. When you are at home working on your term paper, just plug your iPad into the dock, and work as you have always worked. WHen you wish to leave, simply undock your iPad and take it as you go. But wait! there's more. Next to your iPad dock port is your iPhone dock port. Simply connect both devices to your "iMac; Dock Edition" and run apps from both, with all the power of both.

(to tell the truth... this actually sounds somewhat cool to me...)


I agree.

Actually back in the early 1990s, before Jobs returned, Apple made a subnotebook called a Powerbook duo which could be inserted into a dock on a desktop mac so you could access a screen, keyboard/Mouse and bigger storage. I never had one but I thought it was very interesting as it combined low storage mobility with the power of a full desktop computer.

See here
http://lowendmac.com/misc/mr07/0904.html

Interestingly Apple have over recent years occasionally secured patents on a similar set up and such an arrangement with an iPad is an interesting possibility.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By Silver2k7 on 10/27/2010 7:24:39 PM , Rating: 2
"But, Microsft is loosing market share in free internet browser software, down from their 100% market shares of years ago. OH MY GOD!!!!! THEY ARE DYING!"

lol yeah.. well back in the day I actually liked Netscape but todays Netscape (Firefox) i don't like that much..

IE8 does what I want a my browser to do.. ive not seen any reason to switch to something else thought I have Firefox installed.. its always good to have a backup browser just in case some site wont work or whatever.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By Hieyeck on 10/28/2010 11:46:38 AM , Rating: 2
Google stuff is just really good. Just because they make bundles of money, doesn't mean it's evil. Google has just as much right to earn ad dollars at the same rate that its competitors do.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By kattanna on 10/27/2010 3:23:16 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
A similar thing can be said about CNN.


CNN in particular and journalism in general.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By Reclaimer77 on 10/27/2010 4:36:42 PM , Rating: 3
People have been predicting the doom and gloom end of Microsoft for 20+ years now.

Move along, nothing to see here. Shame on you CNN, terrible reporting. Microsoft will almost certainly live longer than you. People actually USE MS products, while on the other hand NOBODY watches your network anymore.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By Skywalker123 on 10/27/2010 10:30:48 PM , Rating: 2
and one day they will be right!


RE: Judged by ratings...
By themaster08 on 10/28/2010 1:50:00 AM , Rating: 2
People predict the end of the world all of the time....

and one day they will be right too!


RE: Judged by ratings...
By muIIet on 10/27/2010 7:23:59 PM , Rating: 5
Do people still watch CNN?


RE: Judged by ratings...
By jonmcc33 on 10/28/2010 1:31:08 AM , Rating: 2
I agree but the funny part is that CNN is always swinging on Apple's balls. So I wouldn't expect anything less from CNN at all.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By stimudent on 10/28/2010 8:15:19 AM , Rating: 1
At this rate, it may be just a matter of time until the competition strangles Microsoft to death. I think about 10 years ago or so, Ballmer put his hand over his throat pretending to strangle himself. It was to show what Microsoft was going to do to its competitors. It's now happening to Microsoft. What comes around goes around.


RE: Judged by ratings...
By FITCamaro on 10/28/2010 12:06:33 PM , Rating: 2
Except the government won't bail out Microsoft if they fail like they will with CNN. Of course with Gates hanging around Obama lately, maybe they will.

Most major news outlets are in danger of going out of business. Except Fox. But remember, they're the ones full of idiots, extremists, and racists.


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