Thursday, April 28, 2011

Microsoft FY11Q3 Results

What's on your mind as the Microsoft FY11Q3 results get released? Some things I'm thinking of:

Win7 Business being eaten alive by iPads? Oh, those hungry hungry cannibals eating away the post-PCs for your PC dependent iPad slates. Probably no good news in the Win7 OS business could please people seeing Apple having to buy everyone working at Apple pants with ten pockets so that they can continue stuffing money into them.

Office 14 / SharePoint: continued strength? Leveled? Dip?

Kinect: what are the post-holiday sells like?

Xbox Live security: not that we want to be cocky, but if Xbox Live was broken into like Sony's Playstation Network Microsoft would have a big-black eye. Probably two. How confident is Microsoft in the network's security?

WP7 numbers: how has the trend been in activated phones? How is the Nokia deal shaping up? How will Microsoft not be the weepy little toy of the phone carriers crying over a release chart when the Mango update goes out?

Share price: talk about one dead share. It's a dead fish. That a bunch of hippy dock-workers played hacky-sack with and left to rot out in the sun. So dead that we're shifting budgets around to not award stock but give out crisp, sweet-smelling Benjamins instead to the employees we value most. Microsoft millionaire days? A long, long distant memory. I think of that book Microsoft In The Mirror where a number of interviewees were reluctant to share with outside folks that they work at Microsoft because folks would light up, assuming they were rich beyond words. Today's response? "You work at Microsoft? Well bless your heart."

Keeping employees: seems as though we'll need to justify the extra bucks and effort the company is putting into spreading cash to the section of employees most likely to be recruited (aka poached) or give up on Microsoft. I'm sure that the investors could care less about our performance review system, but it's sad we stuck with a 20th-centry industrial review system for a 21st century Gen.Next workforce. Like many opportunities: buh-lown.

The two pressure points I certainly continue to feel:

WP7: the NoDo update was just a Class-A Cluster-Fuck. And I don't use language like that very often. And the fact that the pre-update bricked phones was inexcusable. The WinMo team has to realize that everything they have to do must be perfect and ahead of schedule (wrt running in customer's hands). Any sort of focus other than that is a recipe for disaster. Mr. Ballmer is a fan of Coach John Wooden. WWJWD? Pound excellence into the team such that releasing an update was the easiest thing they had to do. If you're the kind of person looking for a challenge to fix Microsoft and prop-up its future, look for opportunities to join that team. Less Pink, more you.

iPad: it's pretty. It's slick. It comes from a company where design is realized. It doesn't do as much as a PC, but it does enough. And by now everyone has been able to put together the pieces (e.g., Windows 8 demonstrated running on ARM) to figure out when Microsoft might release something that has similar form factor. But will it have the elegance and cohesiveness of the iPad 2, let alone the iPad 3? Will it be too late?

Should Microsoft release an iPad competitor, it will be THE defining moment for Microsoft's future: back in the game or game over.

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