My final report about spending a month using Microsoft products went up on the Beast this morning. (You can read it here. Bottom line: Great products, some of which I will really miss. The Lenovo W520 powerhouse laptop is highly recommended as a desktop substitute. I really do not want to send it back. Windows 7 is stable and fast, but you knew that. Windows 8 is mind-blowing and is going to shine on tablets. I used it only on a laptop, a Lenovo U300, but saw it on a few tablets and, well, when they come out, I want one. Same for the Arc Touch mouse, which has won design awards, and deservedly so. It’s the best mouse I’ve ever used.
But the real star is the Xbox, and thank God our Xbox doesn’t need to be returned; we bought it last year. If you do not have an Xbox, you need to get one. I mean it. Even if you don’t play games (I don’t) it’s a fantastic living room hub. Get the Kinect, and see what the future looks like.
Microsoft has a great opportunity to provide an entire ecosystem where everything works together seamlessly. But for now the parts still feel not well tied together. And there’s too much MicroCruft hanging around, old services and products, redundancies, and so forth, that make things too confusing. Microsoft needs a Steve Jobs to come in, take control of everything on the consumer side, and start killing off lots of useless products and building out from a simple core. They need a product dictator, someone with a vision for how to unify everything.
The big challenge Microsoft has (that Apple doesn’t) is that Microsoft has to try to achieve all this stuff on the consumer side while also running a huge enterprise business. It may be that you can’t really do both. Time will tell, I guess.
One thought I had over the weekend, while walking around wearing my tinfoil hat and talking to myself: What if Microsoft doesn’t really care about the consumer space? What if being an also-ran in mobile phones and Internet search is just fine by Microsoft, since it keeps people from noticing that, in the enterprise side, Microsoft not only dominates but is getting stronger? And maybe that’s where the real money is going to be made — building out the cloud, handling big data, delivering back-end and front-end services to big corporations, slowly gobbling up workloads that used to run on big iron, chipping away at software makers like Oracle and SAP?
Well I’m sure Microsoft isn’t deliberately trying to fail in the consumer space. But the fact that the Borg makes so much money on the enterprise side surely must soften the blow. And it can’t hurt that a few highly visible failures probably help keep the DOJ at bay.
Anyway: A big thanks to Microsoft for going along with this. It had been a long time since I used Microsoft products on a day-to-day basis, and I really enjoyed it. I’m really excited about all the stuff that is coming out of Microsoft these days, and I think by this time next year we’re all going to be talking about them a lot more.