April 15, 2013

It’s convenient to make Microsoft the whipping post for the steep drop in PC sales, but they’re just part of the issue. Where they do bear blame is not building a longer bridge between Windows 7 & 8. Vista was such a disaster that 7 had to hit the market faster than expected to fix all the issues. As such, Windows 8 was released basically on the heels of Windows 7. The PC’s purchased with Windows 7 aren’t in need of replacement. Users aren’t clamoring for a touchscreen PC, and Microsoft has put all the true innovations in Office 2013, not the 8 operating system.

But PC manufacturers should shoulder a good deal of blame. Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc. all threw in with Microsoft, but they remained stagnant on form factor design. Don’t tell me Microsoft products determine what the manufacturers can do; that’s a total copout. Dell’s workstations and laptops haven’t markedly changed or improved since XP was released a decade ago. Lenovo is trying new form factors to enhance the 8 experience, but haven’t produced anything that screams must have (plus they’re expensive, so most businesses can’t justify cost-benefit). HP, I think they’re just a mess.

While the article below is mostly about how Microsoft finds other avenues outside the PC vendors, I think it should have also touched on how Microsoft has to exert some influence on future machine designs. If they really think hybrid tablet/laptop devices have a future, then those devices have to offer something above and beyond the iPad/Android devices. And they have to do a better job getting that message to the market.

To that point – last one of this posting, promise – the Surface ads are abysmal. I like the kinetic energy and music – the guy hopping across the table on one hand is impressive – but they do squat to sell the device’s benefits. Surface is not merely a tablet – it’s everything the iPad can’t be but without the panache. And if you’re going to sell on image alone, then Microsoft will lose everytime. It’s just the truth of the current market and media culture. So turn it into a capabilities study. That’s a winning ad.

As PC sales tank, what's Microsoft's Plan B?