Although I mentioned it in the previous post I forgot to talk about the services side of Microsoft – the issue of Android being bought up in regards to Microsoft is the fact that the future of Microsoft isn’t tying every other part of Microsoft to Windows but instead making Windows once and for all actually have to compete in the marketplace based on merit rather than screwing over the other divisions. When it comes to an Android future and the move away from Windows being a generator of growth and profit it makes perfect sense to move to Android and start focusing their services on that platform but the push doesn’t stop there. The other problem is the horrible integration between Windows, Mac OS X and their online services – particularly on OS X but more mind boggling on how bad their integration is when it comes to their own flag ship operating system (Windows). At some point that if you’re going to rally around your services and you have a flagship product (Windows) that the focus would be on making sure that it provides a first class experience for end users rather than the current situation of “either throw everything in the cloud or have no cloud at all” where at least in the case of OS X and iCloud you still maintain your local account but you can add in iCloud support without losing you local account in the process.
When it comes to their online services they most certainly tick all the boxes – Outlook.com for email, Skype for VoIP and video conferencing, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Contacts, Calendaring etc. but when it comes to working with other operating systems they do a crappy job at it. Take iOS – sure you can synchronise your Contacts, Email, Calendaring etc. without too many issues but what is missing are niceties such as the ability to synchronise bookmarks for example (and they’ve provide no public API to make that possible so even if Apple wanted to they wouldn’t be able to). iOS comes out a whole lot better when compared to OS X where as of 10.9.4 as an end user you’ve had to deal with pop3/smtp support (not particularly useful when it comes to multiple devices keeping in sync) and then Microsoft finally delivers IMAP support but there is no Contact, Calendaring, Notes etc. synchronisation when setting up in the ‘Internet Accounts’ in ‘System Preferences’ and all that could be delivered if Microsoft said “screw it, you can licence ActiveSync for free” and allow Apple to provide ActiveSync support for Mail, Contacts, Calendaring, Notes etc. which would give that integrated experience end users expect from a service provide but alas Microsoft isn’t willing to roll out the ‘royalty free licensing’ welcome wagon which would get more users using their services.
Regarding the strategy of using the consumer space to get into the enterprise space (which was raised by a forum poster on the link I provided in the previous post) was part of the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) which allowed iOS and Android to devour Blackberry overnight thus leaving it the hollow shell that it once was. The problem is that when they did deliver it you had Windows Phone 7 based on Windows CE which was then dropped thus leaving early adopters short changed which then result in Windows Phone 8 but it took till Windows Phone 8.1 before they finally delivered the WinRT developer experience from Windows for ARM but alas here we are and they’re still trying to make up for lost time. I think this post on Arstechnica’s discussion forum pretty clearly sums up the problem:
But what has been conclusively proven is that the days of MS being able to show up a day late and a dollar short, and leverage Windows and Office to force their way into an already mature market, are over. It’s going to take something radical to make them relevant in the mobile space, and “radical” just isn’t in MS’s DNA.