James Governor's Monkchips

Note to Microsoft: You Need to Identify The Real Competition

Share via Twitter Share via Facebook Share via Linkedin Share via Reddit

Like Tim, I have been wondering about Microsoft’s pursuit of Yahoo, and more importantly, its desire to “kill google”. I mean nobody thinks Microsoft would give Yahoo a second glance were it not for the spectre of GOOG in the background, do they?

It seems to me that Microsoft’s most important competitor is Apple, not Google. Google’s revenues don’t actually hurt Microsoft, they just grow Google. But if Microsoft wasn’t fully aware of just bad its core business is hurting after it announced revenues fell 24% year over year, last week’s news from eWeek should serve as another glass of water on the head on the pillow. While Microsoft is dreaming sweet dreams of out-searching Google, Apple has taken 2/3 of the $1000+ PC market.

Arguably Microsoft needs to compete against Google to drive its share price up, but fundamentals are surely far more important. Protect the franchise, guys. Its very important that Microsoft focuses on delivering better user experiences, rather than just trying to be best Google. From that perspective the real wake-up call should have been Vista. Microsoft needs to fix the problems it has, not the problems it would like to have.

I want to make it very clear here that I do think Microsoft is doing a lot of things very well at the moment – its server business for example, is going from strength to strength – but competing against Apple isn’t one of them. I still find it very hard to believe for example that Microsoft now apparently has poorer driver support than Linux or Apple. What used to be differentiators are now drags. Get back to basics would be my advice, and ask yourself – where do you want to go today?

disclosure: Microsoft is a client. I currently run XP, but the plan is to move over to Open-Solaris as a primary laptop OS for a while.


  1. I’m curious, do you have a reference to back up that “Microsoft now apparently has poorer driver support than Linux or Apple” statement. – Dave

  2. I like your disclosure, but I would like to ask; to you use yahoo or google as your search provider… and will it change if yahoo became MSYahoo?

  3. Dave – the reference is user experience, though perhaps i should have made it clear i meant client-side, digital media, “consumer”. It seems like i can plug anything into my wife’s mac and it just works. many others talk to the same experience. on the linux drivers side that battle is well fought and well documented, and i rely heavily on insights from my business partner Stephen O’Grady (its not all perfect, see his series on sound card drivers for the Lenovo x300). I was horrified recently to discover that Vista’s power saving settings don’t work in many cases because a lack of driver support… It is literally unthinkable to me that Vista didn’t support all HP hardware out of the gate- and yet it didn’t.

    Nicolai I default to Google, but I have to say there is an inflexion point here that shouldn’t be underestimated. increasingly these days summize is more important to me than Google search. it offers a far higher signal to noise ratio because it searches people and conversations, rather than companies and links. Google did its users a disservice when it started unranking bloggers. If I were Microsoft I would be focusing on the conversational web, rather than last century’s. Google search like everything else is a point in time.
    see http://redmonk.com/jgovernor/2008/02/01/a-memo-that-clarifies-the-microsoft-yahoo-bid/

  4. Dave- may i also suggest you check out this interview with Steve Sinovsky. Makes it very clear the new Vista driver model has been very bad news from a compatibility perspective


  5. Hi James

    Interesting comments on desktop OS choices and positions. We are in the middle of a large scale data gathering exercise on this topic. A week or two ago, we gathered over 5,000 responses on opinions and perceptions of Vista. We curently have a request for feedback running here on OS X (already received 2000 responses since this morning), and will be running a third poll on Desktop Linux readiness for business in about a week.

    We are providing highlights as we go, but the intention is to pull everything together at the end into a coherent analysis.

    Will keep you posted.


  6. […] Governor, Note to Microsoft: You Need to Identify The Real Competition Tags: microsoft. | Leave a […]

  7. Thanks for your answer. I agree Google search is a point in time. The question will be if microsft does something smart in the search space, how long will it take before Google take that idea to the next level.

  8. Waiting on my MBP to arrive. The order has taken so far >2 weeks. Apparently I have a CTO being assembled in China.

    Why Open-Solaris? I hear that OOo is not included by default.

  9. That is so true. Reminded me of the concept of the Other in psychology: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Other

  10. “It seems to me that Microsoft’s most important competitor is Apple, not Google. ”

    Or Nintendo if you buy the notion that the xbox is a big part of MSFTs future. The wii and youtube have more or less replaced television (and any other consoles) in our house. Youtube is a distant second btw.

    Seeing kids watching youtube and ordering a pizza via a wii is illuminating.

  11. Don’t you think that it’s to simple to say that Microsoft is fighting only Google or Apple? Microsoft has fought many fierce battles in the past, some of them victorious like against Netscape, other battles they lost – e. g. the big Linux-war. Others are still ongoing, like in database field against Oracle and alike or in the ERP field. They even try to move into vertical markets (e. g. Healthcare/Azyxxi).

    The problem is simply that Microsoft has too many big visions and fights to many battles at the same time. Thought they have the most mature partner ecosystem, quadrupling their work force, it’s impossible to be victorious in any field and to battle Google, Apple, Oracle, IBM, HP, BMC, CA, Redhat, Amazon, Novell, Nintendo, Sony and many more. Especially, when the others do not have this huge number of brownfields. For example Apple is supporting only certain hardware – i bet that Micrsoft has to provide 500 times more drivers for Notebooks than Apple does – but the user can even choose the latest MSI Wind Atom-MiniNotebook.


  12. Dale – please do keep me posted. in fact i think i will call this afternoon….

    Nick – OpenSolaris is interesting. Sun is a major client. the community is growing. GNOME is really solid. Why not be a contrarian? 😉 and i can run windows virtualised using VirtualBox

    Bill – great point regarding the future and new revenue streams but I also think its very important than Microsoft protects its traditional franchises- and Windows is it! That’s where Apple can hurt- taking away existing revenues rather than taking away future ones.

    Roland- yes there is a simplicity at work here, but I think that simplicity reflects the mindset of Microsoft senior management. They are ultra determined to kill Google, but I believe that’s focusing on the air war (futures, strategy) rather than the ground war (now, tactics).

    Re drivers its a really good point, but it was Microsoft that introduced an entirely new driver model for Vista, and it actually hasn’t done a great job of supporting the 500x devices you mention

  13. Microsoft’s most serious competitor is apparently itself. The company is clearly its own worst enemy controlled by idiots totally disconnected with reality.

    Forget for a moment the company has developed the worst software program in the history of computer science: Internet Explorer.

    Forget for a moment the company has used its privledge granted by the marketplace to destroy the use of the web, destroying millions of small businesses who have been crippled and bankrupted by the trash that this company now sells.

    Let us take for example how Microsoft has a chance to get it all right so to speak but once again has chosen to destroy any hope of enabling a significant customer segment –developers– from building businesses and jobs using Microsoft platform(s).

    There is no question that we are witnessing the emergance of tens of millions of devices which utilize the LCD RIA display as a platform; posters, menu systems, signs, photo frames, you name it. If it requires a display there are huge global markets emerging to utilize the LCD as a platform unto itself generating new business, new jobs and new wealth.

    Except Microsoft has apparently decided if possible it is going to subvert and choke the markets to death.

    Doing research indicates China manufacturers are now making display device platforms both passive and interactive at costs as low as $59.95 per device which is the –retail price– I recently paid for a digital photo frame I use as a demo to sell SaaS hosted on the web which deploys content to passive and interactive digital display devices of various respective sizes.

    Currently and for the most part this huge emerging global market opportunity is comprised of passive slide shows. Touch-Screen interactivity with requires an OS has huge demand from customers of many market segments.

    Linux costs what to license? $0.00. Adobe Flash player now costs what to license? $0.00.

    So what do the Microidiots do? They rename Windows Embedded XP OS as Embedded Standard, enable the OS to run .NET and decide to demand $90 license fee for each device.

    That is $90 for each digital sign, eash digital poster, each digital picture frame and so on that our business once intended to deploy interactive content to using a Microsoft OS.

    However, as stated, that business is now clearly priced out of reach by the Microidiots.

    Customers wanting our web development services are now even balking about paying the higher website hosting fees imposed by those providing Windows hosting services. The open-source paradigm has upset the old price vs cost expense model.

    Who is going to pay $90 extra to display an interactive menu on each table at a restaurant for example when the hardware is as low as $59.95? The list of examples is practically endless. Microsoft has destroyed an entire emerging market with its insane demand for $90 per license per device.

    This company has clearly lost touch with reality. They have just slit the wrist of developers attempting to build business and jobs in the emerging disolay platform markets. They apparently expect us to sit back in the bathtub filled with their warm water marketing bullsh!t expecting the many small businesses to lay down and slowly bleed themselves to death $90 a drop.

    Microsoft has just run me out of business on their Windows platform and I have no intention on allowing this company to continue to bleed my company to death. I have customers and employees who depend on my decisions. I have a company and employees who depend on my decisions. My loyalty to bae my decision on Microsoft ended yesterday when I learned these idiots are demanding a $90 license fee for each LCD device I deploy.

    I’ll keep myself registered with the Microsoft Partner Program all right but yesterday, I finally got serious about learning to install, configure, deploy and support Linux. I t won’t take me as long as I once thought to adapt my C#/JavaScript development skills to utilize RoR with WebKit or some other paradigm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *