Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Are Microsoft stuck in the future?

Microsoft have had a tricky few years. They were recovering their reputation with Windows 7, then jumped into Windows 8. Windows RT has hardly shaken the world either, just look at the Surface. To top this off, their market-leading Xbox 360 was upgraded after 8 years to the 'XBox One' and subsequently slammed by consumers and the press, for a variety of caveats.
     So, looking at these in isolation; Microsoft have got it wrong. Mistakes have been made, as if the company is in blind panic. But, if you look a bit closer, I think Microsoft have leapt into the future, but the world isn't ready for it.

Take the Xbox One for example. Microsoft have pushed towards an internet age that doesn't quite exist. We're not ready to have to be connected to play games, and we're certainly not ready to use the Xbox as the focal-point of the living room. In 5 years, we may be, but not yet. Similarly with Kinect; it's a great piece of kit but again, we're not ready to interact with consoles in that way.

Microsoft's attempt to bridge that gap between mobile and desktop with Windows 8 was admirable, but yet again, ahead of it's time. The OS simply was not ready for it. The apps are a case in point. They work on one device, but only few transcend that gap smoothly.

The Surface is another example. The world isn't quite ready to let go of laptops, and have them replaced with tablets and keyboards. It's a good, solid product. It's not mind-blowing, but it does the job well. Better priced, this is a feasible option for consumers, but it has been misjudged. This point can be repeated with touch-screen PCs.

In a similar way to Google's Chromebooks, Microsoft's current products are ahead of their time. What Microsoft have misjudged, however, is their complete shift towards these products. They have no contingency plan. The Chromebook is absolutely a side project for Google, and if it fails, the company will still survive. Not only that, Google are playing the long game with the product, whereas Microsoft need quick changes, and an error on this scale, could be very costly. Microsoft have thrown everything into Windows 8, Windows RT and the Xbox One. If these fail, Microsoft will be up the metaphorical creek without a paddle...

I could've gone into much more detail on this, but I didn't feel it necessary. I'd love to hear your thoughts as I'm sure many wont agree. Please feel free to comment below.

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