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BLOG:Post-PC Microsoft signs its death warrant -- with an iPad

Jonny Evans | April 12, 2013
Is Microsoft doing the right thing by refusing to offer Office to Apple iPads now?

Autonomy is seen as a route to efficiency in the new management doublespeak, and part of this autonomy is a move to allow employees to choose their own devices. Of course, reflecting consumer trends, Apple is shooting up the enterprise sales charts. Android is being looked at, but most CIOs remain unconvinced by its security model, mainly because, well, because they think what I think on Android security: it sucks.

Windows tablets have failed to interest the rank and file of enterprise workers. This is because Microsoft has made a fundamental error in its approach to business -- the company continues to insist that enterprise culture reflects the antique "Greed is good" autocratic top down management culture, and has failed to recognize the significance of how things are changing.

The significance is that it's no longer enough to convince the CEO or CIO to adopt Microsoft products, you must also convince an increasingly autonomous workforce to adopt these things, too.

Customer experience

One obvious way in which Microsoft could keep its key enterprise customers happy might be to deliver good customer experiences to the platforms they are on. Given the importance of its business productivity suite, Office, and its historical importance in underpinning Windows sales, it makes sense to deliver Office to as many platforms as possible, given the new diversity in enterprise systems.

Except this isn't what is happening.

Instead, Microsoft, with its anachronistic worldview, believes that by making Office software unavailable to users of other mobile platforms, it can leverage this lack in order to create future demand.

This isn't going to work.

The advantages of Office are being eroded. Increasingly people do business in different ways. Alternative applications and services that can create documents, spread sheets or whatever in Office-compatible formats now exist. These don't have the hegemonic market share of Office, and probably never will, but given Office is the one thing Microsoft has that everyone might want, it's Microsoft's perfect calling card with which to convince people to have a little faith in its other products.

In other words, as the company's core markets -- and indeed the wider consumer markets -- adopt different platforms, Microsoft doesn't have a challenge, but a huge opportunity.

Were the company to introduce good versions of Office for the plethora of other devices, it would create new revenue, create good feeling, and, if the software's liked, stimulate interest in its other products.

However, by making its customers wait until some indeterminate point next year, Microsoft looks like it isn't watching what's happening, isn't interested in serving the needs of its customers, and looks out of touch. These steps encourage disinterest in its products. These actions drive its customers -- including its precious enterprise customers -- to look elsewhere.

By adopting this path, Microsoft is signing its own death warrant.

Perhaps it should give Ron Johnson the top job?


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