06 February 2009

Proof that Microsoft Now Fears for the Desktop

Hmm, lookee here: Microsoft wants to hire a Director, Open Source Desktop Strategy. Here are the details:

The Windows Competitive Strategy team is looking for a strong team member to lead Microsoft’s global desktop competitive strategy as it relates to open source competitors. Our team mission is to gather intelligence, create business strategies, and drive action in the marketplace for the Windows Client business. In this job, you will be asked to think strategically, put yourself in the mindset of our competitors, influence multi-million dollar marketing campaigns, and drive high-level executive thinking around business strategy.

As the Director of Open Source Desktop Strategy you will need to drive research and build holistic strategies across dynamic market segments like PCs, NetBooks, and mobile internet devices. You will be responsible for bringing our business strategy to life by discovering and sharing the market insights that set the foundation for our platform value dialogue with customers and the industry.

Nothing could say plainer that Microsoft now fears for the desktop. You don't appoint someone whose job is to lead a "global desktop competitive strategy" that embraces PCs, netbooks and mobile internet devices after years of assuming the desktop was yours forever unless you have a clear and vivid idea that there is a new and real threat in this sector. And you don't have to be a mind-reader to guess that Microsoft is thinking of GNU/Linux here.

The job would probably be quite attractive to people were it not for two killer responsibilities:

Create a rational set of proof points that promote Microsoft’s comparative value

Build a fact-based marketing plan that articulates the Windows Client value proposition to partners and customers

The problem is, of course, that there is no "rational set of proof points", and no facts on which to build a marketing plan. It will be interesting to see which masochist gets the job. I look forward to, er, analysing his or her attempts to square the circle. (Via Matthew Aslett.)

33 comments:

Fred said...

"And you don't have to be a mind-reader to guess that Microsoft is thinking of GNU/Linux here"

Not so sure about that. What about Google? Check out screen shot of Google virtual desktop

glyn moody said...

I'm sure MS is thinking of Google, but don't forget it runs on top of Windows, Mac etc. GNU/Linux (and MacOS) is the main threat, I think.

Roy Schestowitz said...

I independently did an analysis too, in case you are interested.

glyn moody said...

Of course: I like reading the relevant historical snippets you frame stuff with - excellent stuff.

Leslie P. Polzer said...

Bit of a misnomer, isn't it?

It should be "Closed Source Desktop Strategy"...

glyn moody said...

It's a trick...

amd-linux said...

The very disappointing truth behind this job ad is:

They still don't understand.

They still want to fight us as Compuserve and MSN wanted to compete with the upcoming Internet.

This fight is doomed. They will fail as they can not compete with free on the mid run and they can not compete with the creativity of the largest software community in the world.

Steve, step down. You are a man of the Cold War. Retire like Mr. Bush did before you face Mr. Nixons fate.

glyn moody said...

Well, a lot depends on who they choose, and what that person does...

Abe said...

If You can't beat them, join them"

That is the only option MS has left.

NO, Wait a minute, I take that back. I believe it is too late. MS had its chance to join FOSS. Now it has no option. Whether it continues to fight FOSS or join it, they are doomed. It is all of its doing. It made its bed, its time to sleep in it.

glyn moody said...

@Abe: it's hard to know what exactly is going through their minds: are they still fighting dirty? Fair? Seeking to cooperate? Throwing in the towel?

Abe said...

Glyn:
Exactly, they are in a state of total confusion. They never thought of it happening to them.
It is time for MS, as a software company, to lay down and die.

What is concerning is, before they do that, they might use a nuclear option before FOSS is entrenched.
That wont hurt FOSS much, but it would create chaos that would harm the market and the progress of IT.

David Gerard said...

What is going through their minds? They're still fighting to the death and will not stop until they can't fight any more.

Your competitors could come from nowhere any time - every battle is a battle to the death. BillG stated this expressly in those words repeatedly for many years. That's their corporate culture.

glyn moody said...

I think they're probabaly "too big to fail", but they will probably follow the path of IBM in losing their dominant position in the industry.

glyn moody said...

@David: if so, they're fighting the old battles with the old weapons.

David Gerard said...

yep. So the question is how much damage they will cause in the process of going down. Because they won't go down quietly.

Roy Schestowitz said...

The comparison to IBM is unfair. IBM is about 5 times bigger than Microsoft.

glyn moody said...

@Roy: I don't think the numbers are so important as the dynamics, which are almost identical: hugely-successful monopolist that needs to re-invent itself radically in the face of a new world.

Abe said...

Glyn:
[I think they're probabaly "too big to fail",]

I agree but not totally. They wont fail as a financial compay (Too much money in their pocket), they will fail as a software company.

If we look at the trend, IBM joined FOSS from the very begining. May be due to sheer luck or may be due to their experience and insight. The majority of software companies, including IBM, initially didn't want FOSS to succeed. They considered FOSS as the enemy. So their strategy was to align with MS but in the background.

IBM couldn't do that because of their past experience with MS & BG. IBM foresaw an opportunity with FOSS. They used it to revive their Mainframe and also to stop MS from taken over the whole world.

Novell did the same but instead of strengthen its business, they tried to change FOSS to suit their plans. Big mistake and they will fail.

Sun was behind MS in SCO's fiasco and settled their case with MS abandoning FOSS. They tried playing the ropes. They finally realised their mistake and recently started joining FOSS (OpenOffice, MySQL, VirtualBox, GPLed Java, etc.)

MS created its own enemies using its strength. If it wasn't for FOSS, MS would have dominated the IT world and all other companies would be getting nothing more than bread crump left by MS.

What is left for MS are the ISP who are living off MS handouts. When these handout no longer available, the ISP will start making their own bread by furnishing FOSS services. FOSS creates a level playing field for all to compete. MS can join, but they are too greedy to be satisfied with sharing, and too much of a sleazy to be trusted.

glyn moody said...

@Abe: don't underestimate the inertia of users. I read somewhere that Novell is still earning money from *Netware*.

MS could easily decline gracefully making money from its base of users who will never shift simply because it never enters their mind to shift. Not the best business, but enough to keep them going for many years.

But I think that ultimately some iconclast will claw his/her way to the top of Microsoft, and remake it fundamentally - perhaps by splitting it up into competing divisions.

Roy Schestowitz said...

Glyn,

Novell operates at a considerable loss. Expect massive layoffs probably by the end of the month (time of the report).

glyn moody said...

@Roy: I wasn't suggesting Novell were rolling in it from Netware revenues: that was just an example of inertia. It will certainly be interesting to watch Novell's next few months - something I'm sure you'll be reporting on fully...

Abe said...

Glyn:
*Netware*.
I agree, but is it enough for Novell to survive or sustain a healthy business?

*enough to keep them going for many years*
I agree again, but for how long before those customers see the light? Enterprise level companies, by nature or habit, tend to have single source for most of their services and purchses. If they are going to keep paying to the nose while others don't, how long they are going to stay blind or look the other way?

*perhaps by splitting it up into competing divisions*
I don't think anyone would have a problems with that (well may be some). But that does not suit MS business mentality and culture. Even if it does change, they will have to compete on the same level as everyone else. That is healthy and sustainable. At least, there wont be any monopoly or abuse of.

I can live with that. lol

Abe said...

glyn moody:

In case I forgot to mention it, your article is very insightful, very informative, and your logical deduction is well put.

Thanks for posting it.

glyn moody said...

@Abe: no, I wasn't suggesting Novell could survive on it. As for splitting up and culture, that's why the culture *must* change.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft is the last big standing powerful decease of our modern society and open source is the cure.
They are the lions and the open source society is the buffaloes, the former is strong because despite being a minority it's united and destroys the buffaloes one by one by isolating them (Novel, the others who signed the patents deals) from the crowd and killing them softly, with care.
The Linux Foundation is a sign that the buffaloes are getting smarter.

glyn moody said...

@abe: thanks - and thanks for your interesting comments.

glyn moody said...

@anonymous: I think you mean lions and GNUs....

Roy Schestowitz said...

*LOL* I saw that comments too ("buffaloes are getting smarter.") and you beat me to it.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft is in bad strategic pit:

Apple is clipping the high-end sales.

Netbooks are expanding - and only with Linux and some old XP. Other hardware sales are way down.

Linux is expanding at the low end and nicely upgrading old Windows machines that are too tiny for Vista/7.

Monopoly of forced upgrades (Corporate Fortune 10's move to next version of windows or MSOffice then others are forced to follow) is broken, IT departments have extended their 'evaluation' time on new versions and skip Windows generations. They are now considering skipping hardware updates and even considering (ghastly!) thin clients all around. Ubuntu does this quite easily, converting old fat clients to thin clients easily too.

Some 'fool' of a company released Open Office for free, that was MS's biggest cash cow, and now two other big companies have prettied Open Office up some more.

Google owns search and getting better as a desktop replacement.

Darn Netbooks to do browsing don't need a fancy OS. Broadband is the bottleneck not cpu Ghz.

An uphill battle for Windows, to be sure. New position will be hard (can't push a rope in an organization).

Microsoft's best solution is to quit futzing and embrace Linux. There are value chains they can exploit.

glyn moody said...

Nice summary.

Anonymous said...

People,

The fate of Microsoft is clear. It will wither and becoem a minor layer in the desktop industry.

Our current problem is Google, they're getting too big plus they have the data to boot. I'm much more worried about Google owning nearly all of the web surf data.

Not using/avoiding/undermining Google is where it's at because they could become the 21st century Big Brother.

David Gerard said...

I'm wondering to what extent Microsoft will shoot itself in the foot with Windows 7 Crippled Edition, which runs only three apps. And which, despite much astroturfing otherwise, has been declared by Microsoft to be something they will in fact market in first-world markets for netbooks.

You have three apps you can run. Make one of those Firefox or Chrome with a Flash plugin. Now you have mail, chat, office, music, video ...

If Microsoft had Apple's knack for joined-up thinking, I'd say they'd planned it that way and were going to revitalise MSN and Windows/Office Live for this market. But they don't, they're battling divisions who happily destroy each other's projects.

Microsoft may just have handed the market to Google.

(Which is a pity, because the Windows 7 beta really does seem to be Vista done right. I'm not a fan of Microsoft's odious and criminal business practices, but I'm not going to say bad things about them that aren't true. It runs well and usably and responsively in 512MB. I was shocked.)

glyn moody said...

Extraordinary, isn't it. At a time when they need to show some flexibility, they retreat into their 1980s mindset.