What a week it has been in for Microsoft, at once letting the world know that its fundamental business model is under transformation, and at the same time enduring a very embarrassing media narrative concerning its forthcoming Windows 8 operating system.
The new Microsoft
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In an interview late last week, Microsoft detailed how it was transforming from a pure software company into a firm that deploys both devices and services. This is a large change.
Putting aside the obvious hardware implications of Surface, TNW recently got its hands on a fresh title that was a collection of Bill Gates quotes. They were, to put it mildly, interesting in this context. For example:
Microsoft is designed to write great software. We are not designed to be good at other things. We only know how to hire, how to manage, and how to globalize software products. The key was to never view ourselves as a services company. We had to be a product company. But it was an approach that would probably not apply to any other business. – Forbes.com, 1997
That in the context of Ballmer’s notes on how Microsoft is changing, that specific Gates quote is almost damning.
Except that’s its not, as Microsoft is simply adapting. In the current world, device/software harmony is an asset in and of itself, and now that Apple has managed to delivery luxury goods at affordable prices through manufacturing innovation and scale, Redmond must fight a new game.
Given the Surface, it intends to win.
Windows: Ready, or just coming?
With partners like these, who needs competitors? Bloomberg, take it away:
Intel Corp. (INTC) Chief Executive Officer Paul Otellini told employees in Taiwan that Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s Windows 8 operating system is being released before it’s fully ready, a person who attended the company event said.
To quote everyone at Microsoft who read that story: “Ugh.” Yes, Windows 8 is not the most polished affair; anyone who has tested the software extensively can attest to this. However, to have a critical technology voice – one that likely has a strong influence in the enterprise market – say such a thing publicly casts a pall over Microsoft’s work that is hard to scrub off.
Following, Otellini went on to say that “Windows 8 is one of the best things that ever happened to Intel.” I’m sure that undid the damage.
Bing! In an odd turn of events, Microsoft’s search engine finds itself in a positive news updraft concerning its work on, wait for it, iOS.
Yes, following the troubled release of Apple’s own mapping tool in iOS 6, and Google’s non-presence on the platform, Bing had an opening – its mapping app was live an open for use on iPhones. TNW called on it to take a stand. A few days later it did, albeit in hushed tones.
However, it was Apple itself who ran support for Microsoft’s search technology and mapping tool, in a letter from its CEO apologizing for the maps mistake. To wit:
While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.
No, you are not reading The Onion. That actually happened.
And finally this week, something different: Microsoft submitted a standard to the W3C that would allow any browser to accept any sort of input – pen, touch, mouse, etc – and have it generate the same output event.
This would be great for web developers, as it would simplify the process by which they accept user interaction. The standard isn’t gospel yet, but things are looking good.