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10/12/2015
07:06 AM
Kelly Sheridan
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7 Microsoft Improvements We Need To See

Microsoft has demonstrated its commitment to building tech for the future, but there is still some room for improvement across Windows, Office, and hardware.
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This has been a big year for Microsoft, which is ramping up its efforts to compete as a modern tech company with the likes of Apple and Google.

An eventful and promising 2015 brought the launch of Windows 10, Office 2016, and new Windows 10 hardware; however, there are a few key areas Redmond will need to focus on as it makes the transition into 2016.

When CEO Satya Nadella took the helm in early 2014, he introduced the "mobile first, cloud first" vision that would dictate Microsoft's future. Since then much of the company's structure, products, and services have been revamped to better reflect Nadella's ideas.

[What's up next? IT watchers predict the future of Windows.]

Much of Nadella's changes seem positive for Microsoft. The Windows 10 OS caters to a cloud- and mobile-savvy user base with a cross-device platform. It has been downloaded on more than 110 million PCs, eight million of which were enterprise devices.

The Office suite also underwent a tremendous amount of change as Microsoft narrowed its focus on enabling productivity in the cloud. Office 2016 was released on Mac and Windows; it was also optimized for mobile use on iOS and Android devices.

Some changes did not affect Microsoft's products and services, but the people who make them. An executive shakeup in June, which resulted in the departure of former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, was intended to better realign Microsoft's engineering efforts with its three core ambitions: creating more personal computing, reinventing productivity and business processes, and building the intelligent cloud.

There remains room for improvement among Microsoft's key products and services as it plans for the future. Let's take a closer look at where it'll need to buckle down for the rest of 2015 and into next year.

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
10/23/2015 | 9:19:51 AM
A little late
Microsoft seems to gotten into the phone and wearable markets a little late in the game. Now they lag behind. in order to catch up they have to do something so much better than anything else out there to make it worthwhile for people to ditch their old tech and buy a Windows device. So far I'm not seeing that new shiny feature that would make me want to drop my android for a Google phone, or shell out and extra $150 for a special band to trach my activity. If they don't do something soon, they will be left in the dust.
Midnight
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Midnight,
User Rank: Strategist
10/18/2015 | 6:55:34 PM
Style over Substance
If you really want to understand Microsoft's slow decline that seems totally counterintuitive, you have to go back in time. In doing so you will see the point where the company deviated from serving it's core market and (very) successful adoption strategy.

Start at the beginning. There were two strategies being tried in the new personal computer market that was then dominated by systems like VAX, Xenix, UNIX and AS400 micro, mini and full mainframes. These strategies were, "What you use in the office you will use at home" and "What you use at home and school will redefine the office." These strategies were used by Microsoft and Apple respectively. The other players targeted niche applications as Commodore held the video and graphics arts markets. Focusing on Microsoft, the migration from office to home was an amazing success helping feed the "hobbyist" demographic as well. From IBM's initial dismissal of the PC market the door opened for all of the PC "clone" producers, that dominate the branding we know today, to get there started. And all across this new open architecture ecosystem was Microsoft as the primary OS.

One of the main keys to the success was the open and modular architecture in both hardware and software. Third party innovation grew from garages into powerhouses like Symantec (who bought Norton Utilities and AntiVirus.) Time passes and the new commercialized Internet becomes "a thing" that Microsoft was initially ignoring. This was the first warning that the company was losing touch with it's customer base and the technological environment as a whole. They did not see the potential of the dot.com era and review the complete botch in dealing with Netscape. Roll the clock forward through the Windows 3.11 and NT Advanced Server generation till we hit Windows 95 and NT 4.0 Server. These were the last truly innovative OS foundation products that balanced the modular requirements of the technical staff and the "ease of use" of the consumer. Case in point - WolfPack - a free third party developed network software plug-in for load balancing servers. It allowed a standard license NT 4.0 server to perform the one additional required function that otherwise required an Enterprise Server license.

We are now at the place where Microsoft makes it's fatal direction change; Windows 2000. Don't get me wrong, the Windows 2000 is a fully functional solution that runs well, but here is where the obscurity and deliberate lack of simple modularity beings. I submit that this started here due to the perceived loss of revenue due to the third party developers replacing functionality in the higher priced products. The result is a dumbing down and abstraction of access to the core functionality of the OS. If you need a "wizard" that is much akin to an installer package just to perform basic administration, something is wrong. Combine that with crazy licensing schemes and now you are really starting to alienate the tech staff who has to support your product.

It is true the the servers, cloud offerings, and subsequent OS releases do work... well mostly. This attempt to remove the product from the in-depth control of the Net Admins and wild experimentation of the hobbyist is slowly rendering the viable interest of all of Microsoft's offerings down to the lowly shrink-wrapped closed ecosystem Mac OS.

So here is the take away. Everything in the article is well, nice. It's pretty, but it shows the final closure of control and innovation due to an isolationist walled garden philosophy. Yeah, I'm one of the proud former users of DOS 1.1 and I even started my first ISP using NT 3.51 Advanced Servers. Now, I am saddened by the direction that is clearly the direction of the industry focused on hype and quarterly profits. It is clear that without a major course correction, Microsoft no longer deserves the innovation enabling title it once held. It is going to become just another me-too also ran. Oh, don't worry, they aren't going to fade from the ecosystem immediately. Use Novell as the timetable reference. There are still a few Novell servers out there running fine and doing their jobs... and MySpace is still on-line even under the shadow of Facebook. Once defining powerhouses but lost their way and the core markets. If Microsoft wants to get ahead of this, try defining and evangelizing private clouds and once again work with your vendors to INNOVATE package solutions using the wisdom of the past and the capabilities of today. Think private cloud style SBS with an old school ISA firewall. Streamline the virtual servers, make it modular so we can extend it. Let your customers do the dreaming.

FrontPage
WolfPack
Norton
DiskKeeper
and the list goes on. If you don't empower your customer to be your R&D, Linux will. And that is what will replace you. One good GUI for LDAP user/file security management and I am gone as a customer forever. Heck, even the Zorin version of Ubuntu Linux has auto-updates now... annoying pop-up style just like Windows. Libre Office needs a good replacement of Outlook to share calendars and contacts... then why buy MSOffice? To use a cloud solution that, thanks to Snowden, we know is pre-compromised?

Style over Substance... doesn't matter if it works, just as long as it is pretty enough to keep them distracted till the next release.

</ Rambling Rant>
shamika
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shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
10/17/2015 | 10:09:00 PM
Wearables
Wearable is a great idea too. However they have to implement it with more features which should be better than existing smartwatches. It is also important to look at features where others have not touched.
shamika
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shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
10/17/2015 | 10:04:43 PM
Windows Phone
I have my doubts on Windows phones. Will it be able to capture a significant market share with the existing giants?
JerryRioux
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JerryRioux,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/16/2015 | 10:37:17 AM
Win 10 Adoption Rates
It's actually depressing to think that Win 10 adoption is disapointing when more computers use Win 10 than all of the Macintosh computers in the whole word.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
10/15/2015 | 1:10:50 PM
Re: Business Appeal
Not really sure that is in MS control. Most business apps are not MS products. If your job only consists of checking email and using Office, then, yeah, you can just use the phone. But as a developer of custom apps for my business, I'm not on any roadmap to get them to work on a small form factor like a phone.

Will be interesting to see if things MS has control over, like AX, is rewritten to run on a small form factor like that. Seeing the problems ERP guys are having just getting to Saas, I won't be holding my breath. :-)
MemphisITDude
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MemphisITDude,
User Rank: Strategist
10/15/2015 | 10:42:43 AM
Business Appeal
The "Continuum" feature will appeal to business people, since it brings them closer to the holy grail of not having to carry a laptop or even a tablet. The ability for your phone to be the only device you carry without sacrificing access to any business apps will be a winner, provided Microsoft can successfully execute it.

On the home front (Windows Store, Windows 10, etc.) Microsoft is far behind Apple from a marketing perspective, will be interesting to see if they can catch up.
GAProgrammer
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
10/15/2015 | 9:53:53 AM
Re: Windows Store
I would disagree with you - this is EXACTLY what people are used to. The Windows Store essentially IS an app store, just like Android and iOS. I am sure that was part of their strategy when creating the store. 

I think you right that people have no reason to use the Windows Store at this point because the "usual" distribution of software is still in place (plus they don't have nearly as many apps). Ask any Steam user, online distribution and purchasing is great! They probably need to work with major software vendors and make it easier for software companies to take their boxed software and pop it right into the Windows Store for distribution that way. Microsoft just has to figure out how to make that model work for them.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
10/12/2015 | 7:49:36 PM
Windows Store
Do people use the Windows Store? 

It's such a stark difference from what Windows users are accustomed to: Downloading software from the internet directly. I think the biggest issue here is the fact that most people don't have a compelling reason to use the Windows Store. And I'm not entirely sure they ever will. 
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