How would you fix a 'malfunctioning' Microsoft?

How would you fix a 'malfunctioning' Microsoft?

Whatever your thoughts on Microsoft, the Surface tablets, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and all of that, I think we can all agree that the once-mighty MS is no longer quite the unstoppable force it once was.

That much is no big deal: things go up, things come down. Such is the way of the world. But the more interesting question is what would you do to change things if you were put in charge of Microsoft right now?

Under current boss Steve Ballmer, Microsoft is in the middle of evolving from a pure software company – think Windows XP, Office, Hotmail etc – into a “devices and services” company – Surface, SkyDrive, Bing and so on.

Broadly speaking, it seems a fairly sensible evolution to make, as the “old” Microsoft model just doesn't fit the way the technology industry is moving. But is Redmond's reinvention going to plan?

Not according to former exec Joachim Kempin, who gave his thoughts on the matter to ReadWrite in an interview this week. The real story, Kempin suggests, is one where Microsoft has consistently lost out by failing to pounce on opportunities, then has caused further damage by treading on its supposed partners' toes when trying to play catch-up down the line.

“It seems to me that Microsoft is basically malfunctioning,” said Kempin, a Microsoft employee for nearly 20 years who joined the company in the 1980s.

“Back in the late 1990s we had our own tablet under development,” he continued. “It never saw the light of day. When I left in 2002 people were talking about social media. We were selling phone software. But we didn’t take advantage of any of that.

“I’m not a big fan of Facebook. I’m on Facebook, but the program is so confusing and user unfriendly. Its value lies in over one billion people using it and the network which runs it. The user investment is immense.

“Microsoft should take advantage of that and do a next generation of Facebook and do it right,” Kempin said. “People would use it if they could transfer their posts with one mouse click. A Metro-like Facebook clone, and Microsoft would look way cooler than it does today.

“Instead the company produces its own hardware [i.e. the Surface tablets] and tries to compete with Apple while pissing off its loyal hardware manufacturers. Oh my God.”

Indeed. Need a ladder to get down from that soapbox?

It's easy to point fingers and criticise in hindsight. It's also easy to tell others what they should do, since you can do so without having to work out how to do it.

But leaving that aside, do you agree? Is Microsoft "malfunctioning", as Kempin suggests? If you had the chance to plot the next five years for Microsoft, in which direction would you steer the ship? More Surfaces? Bingbook? Something else entirely? Head for the Comments below and have your say.

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JanSt / MOD  Feb. 13, 2013 at 11:18

In part 2: How can Satan improve Hell?
I think I don't wanna play...

satchef1  Feb. 13, 2013 at 14:22

The chap is looking at things the wrong way. This isn't Apple vs Microsoft. It isn't reactionary tactics. It's not about the iPad.
Apple, Amazon, Google and Samsung are all moving hardware and software design and development in-house. In order to compete in the future, Microsoft need to do the same. OEMs are set to become irrelevant.
This isn't a move that Microsoft are pushing - their business was stronger on the old model - but it's a move they have to make. In 5-10 years the OEM sector will be dead. In a decade doubtless there will be two or three victors from the 'big 5' tech companies. Sticking with the old OEM model would only ensure that Microsoft is one of the losers.

CTPAHHIK  Feb. 13, 2013 at 15:51

satchef1, what you are saying contradicts Google. I might have missed your point, but Google doesn't move away from OEM, so far Google didn't have a single successful hardware product.
I tend to think that Google and MS are both software companies and should stick to software. Just because Apple has an ecosystem it doesn't mean everyone should follow.

barrybarryk  Feb. 13, 2013 at 16:00

Windows 8 is actually selling fairly well, in line with Windows 7 anyway and that's despite fewer PC sales and Surface Pro tablets are quite popular at the minute with a lot of enterprise customers considering rolling them out. True, they probably wont all roll them out, but they aren't even considering any other tablets and enterprise roll outs are where MS has always been focused

MS are probably in the best shape they've been in since Vista launched. Now if they can just sort out that phone platform and scrap RT altogether...

JanSt / MOD  Feb. 13, 2013 at 17:24

Well, they aren't rolling out any other tablets because 2 1/2 years have taught them they aren't good for much serious work :p You want proof? Last year every Irish MP got an iPad, and now the country's in an even bigger mess.

Seriously: Windows 8 is doing well, because it's Windows. It's still more Window-ish than any alternative, and corporation loathe change/retraining etc... If MS relaunched XP as Win 9 and gave it a new skin, it'd do well, too.


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