Saturday, January 4, 2014

Microsoft "One" - Has Microsoft lost their vision?

Microsoft was founded as a software company in the late 1980s as a development company focused on operating systems and productivity platforms. They hit gold in 1995 with Windows 95 and the subsequent releases of Microsoft Office.

By the late 1990s, Microsoft had carved out two successful niches to their market: business and consumer.
The consumer platforms consisted of Windows 95/98/XP Home Edition, whose trend continues through Windows 8.1 Home.

Microsoft's Redmond Campus

The business platform grew exponentially into a number of platforms focused on the complex demands of business with data processing and storage. Some of the sucessful platforms included:
  • Windows NT Workstation/Server
  • The Windows Server platform
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Microsoft Virtual Server/Hyper-V
However, that vision has changed. Technology has also greatly changed since the days of Windows NT. The line between business and personal use has become blurred. Most companies allow employees to tie in work email on personal mobile devices such as smartphones. Companies also demand more diversity to services and are sensitive to cost. As Microsoft made purchase of their software more expensive and complex, a new solution developed to compete with cloud based computing: Software as a Service (SAAS).

In 2012, Microsoft began deployment of the new Office 365, which is a subscription based form of Microsoft Office. Instead of paying anywhere between $150 and $350 for a single license to use Word, Excel or Outlook, users now pay a fixed monthly fee. Microsoft expanded this to include the popular Microsoft Exchange service, which was traditionally hosted in house on a server. Servers running Exchange as a stand alone system often cost between $4,000-$8,000. One solution Microsoft used to offer was the small business platform. However, the final release of this product in 2010 was problematic due to instability caused by the way the system allocated memory. Microsoft's solution was to discontinue Small Business Server (SBS), calling it outdated with the gaining popularity of subscription based computing.

These changes may be fine, but with the release of Windows 8, Microsoft is now attempting to funnel business and consumer users into the same interface and platform with the new and difficult to use interface. Since mostly all business computer users also use computers for personal use outside of work, the rationale is to tie all platforms and devices together.

To further complicate Microsoft's vision, they now seek to be a purveyor of both software/services and hardware. One example is the Microsoft Surface tablet. Their survival strategy is to be in both devices and software for consumers and businesses, and to do that effectively, everything must be on the same page.

Microsoft is also seeking to keep everything under one roof, rather than split different divisions off into other companies. Remember the antitrust suits during the late 1990's?

At present, there is no need to "go Microsoft" to use Microsoft. Both Android and Apple platforms have been totally inclusive of Microsoft's hosted services. What is known is that Microsoft remains the stable platform for running real business apps such as Access (yes, people still use Microsoft Access) and integrating with domain based networks. 

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