Sunday, January 4, 2009

The One Before Microsoft's Showing at CES

Okay, time to take a break from all that rumor craziness. It was an... interesting couple of conversational sparking posts. It certainly boggles me to think, beyond rolling up well designated rumors and speculation from commenters here, that you can even have FUD in your name and still get wide-spread journalistic copy. Oy.

If you want to continue to dive in on the rumors and speculation about any cut-backs at Microsoft, feel free to do so on the last posting on it. And remember that Blogger provides a comment RSS stream if you want to keep track of any comments come in on a particular post (like the last one - and yes, you've probably noticed that my moderation eases up after 100+ comments on a post).

One parting comment from The Field:

I think all of the moaning and finger-pointing on the "layoff" posts is a sign of what ails us; we are so self-absorbed we don't stop to think about how to delight our customers. If there are going to be layoffs, so be it. We would not be the first company to have them and we wouldn't be the last. So don't worry about the layoffs; they might happen, they might not. Keep your focus on the customer and how what you do will make their life better. With that focus, you just might find that your life gets better as well.

On the topic of focus, how do you think 2009 is shaping up for your group at Microsoft? Microsoft writers looking at 2009:

This week kicks off CES and Microsoft is under the microscope. And come this Wednesday Mr. Ballmer is going to be given special attention since he has assumed the kick-off CES keynote mantel from Mr. Gates during a time when the company numbers aren't looking good: Vista deployment, Internet Explorer market share, the Yahoo! gambit, search market share, Zune adoption + leap year issues, Wii sells thrashing Xbox, XP licenses still being very popular, PC gaming and consumer software declining, obscure ad campaigns, confused branding, and who-knows-what Ms. Nellie Kroes is up to (she's been vewwwy quiet - too quiet). Oh, and don't forget the iPhone buggering we're taking. And of course Microsoft stock and the whole global economy.

No where to go but up? Opportunity certainly abounds.

This is our chance to show-off, show some humility and respect for our awesome competition, back our partners, and build confidence in Microsoft 2009.

Windows is the foundation for the company and Win7 is the foundation to our 2009 and 2010. I'm not going to hype it up (because I think we all agree that overselling is a really bad idea) but I feel really good about Win7 as a sane, solid operating system release.

Looking at the 2009 Microsoft links above, I have to disagree with Ms. Foley regarding Microsoft over-investing in the consumer experience vs. keeping the Enterprise and IT departments happy. Sure, we need to have an Enterprise focus so that legacy systems run and deployment + patching isn't a nightmare, but if people don't actually want to use your new software, why in the world is the Enterprise going to install it?

I walk many halls at Microsoft and always stop when I see a poster that a group has put up to tout the current milestone of features. Some of those really need to have a webcam that records facial expressions about 20 seconds into reading, because I've gone through bulleted lists of application software and it is nothing but a laundry list of IT department-driven features with no obvious end-user benefit. I'm sure I have a horrified "baroo?" look on my face.

As a result, you get something like Office 2003 where the end-user feature set was so hard to describe that marketing had to resort to odd ads of people creating dog-piles of ecstasy over the release and ads warning customers that they are dinosaurs if they don't upgrade. We can't really describe what features you'll get, but at least you won't be a dinosaur... heh?

Like that point from The Field above, we need to focus on the customer experience vs. barely wired together technology which typically is redundant and confusing. At home I like watching videos stored on my Ultimate machine, and I've got about six different services running to do it multiplied by three different networked video boxes hooked to my TV. For a given video, I have to know the right hardware plus software combination. We want to own the living room, but our customer experience is mentally and physically scattered between Media Center, Xbox, WMP, Zune, and partner media boxes. I love Media Center and I think it should be present in all SKUs of the OS (excluding good ole N) but with something like the Fuji release I get pretty concerned about where it's going. Around the consumer experience we need coherent focus, not a scattered competitive model.

I've asked before: Where's Ray Ozzie? Now's a good time to ask: Where's J Allard? He's our CXO and the champion for the delight we should be bringing to the customer. Will he be front and center as part of CES representing the Microsoft experience? And if not, why?

What is your take on Microsoft 2009 and on a consumer focused Microsoft?

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