Microsoft’s Recent Consumer Driven Year

Paul Thurrott—of SuperSite For Windows—posted an article titled “Microsoft Rising”, describing how Microsoft has shown the ability to connect with consumers rather than simply selling products:

For the past decade or more, Microsoft has been the punching bag of the technology industry, delivering strong sales and financial results but only rarely achieving any form of emotional connection with customers or reviewers. This year has been a revolution for the software giant, however, and with recent announcements and leaks centered on next generation versions of Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox, and Office, Microsoft is suddenly the darling of the tech world.

I agree with Windows Phone and Xbox. Both of these products were designed for and directed at consumers, not the heads of IT departments, and it shows. The biggest issue I have with Windows Phone is traction, which I would think Microsoft is trying their best to remedy. Xbox’s next generation system is still an unknown. With more people gaming on their phones, it makes me wonder how much adoption the system will get versus previous models.

Windows 8 seems like a mixed bag, with confusion about the direction of one OS for both desktop and tablet form factors. Even after its announcement, there were still many open questions amongst the community. I pin this directly on Microsoft’s inability to set the standard up front and stay the course. Just like what we saw with the Surface announcement, there are more open questions than answers.

Office, on-the-other-hand, is just a productivity sweet of apps that helps us get the job done. Does it have an intuitive and well thought-out interface? Nope. Do I despise the ribbon interface? In many cases, I do, but it could always be worse. With the exception of professionals that rely on Office’s expert features, I can’t imagine a lot of consumers caring too much about it. In fact, many Office users could get by on competing products just fine, and may even incur less stress while doing so.