Posted by Chris Martin 08 May 2014
Why Microsoft needs to rethink its strategy: Simplicity is the key
You'd think that as one of the world's largest and most successful companies, Microsoft would find it easy to put a roadmap and strategy together. But it doesn't seem to be able to keep things simple.
Since Windows 8 launched, we've had what I can best describe as a mess of products, launches and updates which is confusing for us as technology journalists following this kind of thing day in, day out. I can't start to imagine what it looks like to the average punter, then. See also: Windows 8.1 review: still an OS of two halves
Windows 8 brought it this strange concept of that good old familiar desktop combined with the tiled Start Screen interface which none of us, to the day, really use on our PCs. The apps weren't and still aren't very good and you have to go round the houses in terms of navigation in Windows 8 to do anything.
Then there's Windows RT which just shouldn't have existed in the first place – a cut down version of Windows which still has the desktop and Start Screen but you can't install traditional Windows software on it. Plonked onto various tablets, I just haven't found them beneficial or easy to use.
A while ago Julie Larson-Green, EVP of Devices for Microsoft, admitted that the firm hadn't explained the difference between Windows 8 and Windows RT to users properly, adding that "we're not going to have three [operating systems]," However, we've seen no sign of this.
With PC sales consistently falling over the last couple of years, Microsoft needs to keep things as simple as possible to keep users engaged and interested. Most of the older generation who would previously use a laptop or PC are now logging onto Facebook and checking their email on an iPad because it's so darn easy.
The Surface was a good idea but is basically too unwieldy as a tablet and too fiddly as a laptop – not to mention the price of one with a decent spec.
Going back to Windows 8, Microsoft did fix a lot of problems with recent updates to the OS so at least it's been listening to customer complaints and reading reviews which point out flaws. You can now pin Modern UI apps to the taskbar and they now have a title bar so you can easily minimise or close them. These, along with other features should have simply been in Windows 8 from the beginning.
Whoever decided on the naming strategy needs a good talking to because first came Windows 8.1, which is fine, but it was followed-up by the unimaginative and plain stupid Windows 8.1 update. I'm sorry but what's wrong with Windows 8.2? It's a lot easier to understand what's going on that way or will the next version be called 'Windows 8.1 update 1 Service Pack 1'.
At least Microsoft has decided to do this with an upcoming update to its mobile operating system, calling it Windows Phone 8.1 to tie in with its desktop counterpart. See also: What’s new in Window Phone 8.1: release date and new features.
The software giant has recently completed its acquisition of Nokia's Devices and Services business which it hopes will boost Windows Phone's adoption. It's the fastest growing mobile OS but that's not too hard when you're starting from around 1 percent market share.
Microsoft has a lot to do in order to catch up with iOS and Android in the fierce mobile market and there are question marks over whether it will even use the globally recognised and trusted Nokia brand. It could be ditching it in favour of something like 'Microsoft Mobile' which would downright ridiculous.
So this is my plea to Microsoft to KISS – keep it simple stupid!