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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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RE: Judged by ratings...
By Shadowself on 10/27/2010 6:23:53 PM , Rating: -1
Bundling is NOT the same as integrating it in.

The anti trust suit was about integrating IE into Windows. It had absolutely nothing to do with bundling IE with Windows.

Microsoft incorrectly claimed -- to customers and even in court -- that removing IE from Windows would cripple Windows. Then a software engineer showed that it was a simple hack to get IE out of Windows with no known negative effect on Windows itself. Microsoft was caugh lying to the court.


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.


"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg














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