Lodahl's blog: Can Microsoft survive ?

03 August 2007

Can Microsoft survive ?

Some of you might think: 'What a stupid question', but I actually doubt that Microsoft will be able to keep up with competition in the future. Well, I'm not thinking 3 or 7 years ahead, but more like ten or twenty years.

Microsoft is a very large and strong company and they will be able to survive for several years, but eventually Microsoft will disappear or at least return to be a company like any other company. The success in the past is the problem in the future: Microsoft is too big to change !

The reason is, that Microsoft is able to change their basic business model.

The traditional way to do business in IT is to develop a piece of software and sell it to as many consumers as possible. The more copies you can sell, the better your business can grow. This is the way that Microsoft has done for more than twenty years and thats the way they will try to continue for another twenty years. If the World was standing still, they would probably be able to continue without any problems, but the World is changing. The customers is asking for new software models, such as web based applications and open standards.

Microsoft is trying to keep up with these changes on applications and marketing, but the business is still the same: 'Vendor lock-in'. Do you think Microsoft asked for ISO approval of their document formats because they want to ? Do you think Microsoft is calling the same formats 'open' because they think they should be open ? Do you think Microsoft is working with open source because they think its a good idea ? No. They are doing these things (and several other things) because competitive applications and vendors is getting a little bit too close. Microsoft is loosing control. More and more customers is asking for 'openness'.

And we must give, that Microsoft is trying to make an 'open' document standard. They are actually working with open source and they might be able to develop some web based applications in the near future. The problem is, that the business model will be the same !

Microsoft is a very large company with a weird history. Originally Microsoft was established by a few guys that was lucky to be at the right place at the right time (with the right skills). First we could find MS-DOS and some years later Windows in the shops. And I agree with those who claim that these programs was very good. Yes the programming was the best seen on the marked. Bill Gates was the man, who made it possible to get Microsoft Windows pre-installed on every single computer in the whole World. The future belonged to Microsoft. Today we see a company with several hundred thousand employees all over the World. Bill Gates is out of office and there is actually nobody left in the management with imagination enough to see a new business model. Or maybe they can see it, but don't have the guts and the power to do it. And it will require both guts and power to change the behavior of so many people. To implement a completely new business model could seem as if they are saying, that the original model isn't good enough.

The customers is asking for open source and open standards. Microsoft can postpone the change for a few years, but they can't change the World. I have heard Microsoft claim, that no customers had asked for support for ODF in Microsoft Office. More and more customers will give up and find other providers.

To get back to the question: I don't think that Microsoft will exist for another ten or twenty years.

1 comment:

ChampDog said...

Great post! The key product is the OS. There is only one way to survive is to make their OS always better than the others. If you look at today, it is quite true. Windows still better than any other OS in terms of user friendliness. As for other products like MS Office, MS can easily kill OpenOffice by just announcing the MS Office becomes free. Don't you think so? As for 10 to 20 years, will MS still survive? Hmm... maybe yes. I bet more than 20 years, MS will only gone. Apple will be the leader. Just give it a guess. :)