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Microsoft Flatters Apple with Imitation

Microsoft unveiled the new Microsoft without a lot of fanfare. In fact, it was played out in a letter to shareholders -- rather than the company's typical blow out, big city events.

What used to be a packaged software company (remember when software came in boxes?) is now a devices and services company, says the letter from Steve Ballmer.

Two issues are worth noting: First, Microsoft truly sees the cloud taking over. If Microsoft can make as much or more as on-premises gives way to service providers, that will be an amazing feat.

This is just the type of opening that kills old companies and births new ones. Here Azure and Office 365 are doing the heavy lifting, and we'll be watching these two pretty carefully.

The devices mandate is more of a shock. Microsoft isn't just dipping its toe in with Surface, it's ducking its whole head in!

While Ballmer claims Redmond will still rely on OEMs for the bulk of products while Microsoft focuses on "specific devices for specific purposes," it is clear that Microsoft intends to be a full-on hardware company.

It is pretty obvious to me that Ballmer sees the unrivaled success of Apple, which builds hardware around its software and produces products that just plain work. I've bought a lot of Macs, an iPhone (for my son Nick!), an iPad (taken over by Nick who uses it as the family camera) and iPods. The only devices that let me down are the sketchy iPods (the iBreak). And once these suckers go south, there's no choice but to toss 'em.

Microsoft also saw how stable and impressive the Xbox has been and now wants to do the same with PCs.

I for one welcome the change. I'm really starting to think that Microsoft-built machines without the Intel legacy could be just the way to get rid of all this flaky Windows behavior. Does it make any sense that Windows is now over a quarter of a century old and my Windows 7 machine goes south when on too long, leaving me to recover all my crashed Office docs? This is more embarrassing than an Adam Sandler comedy. Have you seen Jack and Jill? Rotten Tomatoes ran out of fruit with that one!

Do you like Microsoft's hardware moves and does the company have a compelling cloud story? Answers to each equally welcome at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 10/12/2012 at 1:19 PM


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