10 Lessons Microsoft Has Learned Since Bill Gates’ Departure
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- Put the Vista Era to Rest
When Bill Gates left his active role at Microsoft in 2008, the company was still touting the value of Windows Vista. Even Gates said that he believed Vista was a fine follow-up to XP. But as time wore on, it quickly became clear that Vista was an even bigger mistake than maybe even Gates realized. The enterprise wouldn’t adopt it. Vendors continued to offer XP. And consumers opted for other operating systems, like Mac OS X, in the face of all the Vista criticism. It wasn’t good.
- Release Windows Phone 7 Promptly
After Bill Gates left Microsoft, Windows Mobile’s decline in the mobile market was already underway. The iPhone, which was captivating consumers all over the globe, was making Microsoft’s software look obsolete. In the meantime, Google and RIM, realizing that Apple had revolutionized the space, got to work on competing with Apple in touch-screen devices. As for Microsoft? Well, we’re still waiting for Windows Phone 7.
- Microsoft Could Live Without Gates’ Image Problems
Whether or not it was warranted, Bill Gates caused Microsoft to have some image issues while he was at the company. His success and wealth helped contribute to Microsoft’s “Evil Empire” moniker. But after he left the company, Gates’ philanthropic efforts helped fix some of those image issues he, and in turn, his company suffered from. Microsoft has learned since Gates left day-to-day operations that without one of the richest people in the world sitting in the CEO’s office, it’s a little bit easier to do business.
- Hardware Vendors Do Have Power
Before Bill Gates left Microsoft, he worked hard at ensuring that Microsoft wielded the kind of power in the computing market that no other company could muster. The software giant was far more powerful than the PC hardware vendors and used Windows as the bargaining chip to dominate. But with Windows Vista selling poorly, the vendors finally fought back against Microsoft. They offered Windows XP to consumers through a downgrade right that allows buyers to use a past version of Windows, as long as the vendor installs it prior to shipping. It was a wake-up call for Microsoft. And one that got worse after Gates left.
- Google Is Dangerous
Bill Gates undoubtedly knew that Google was a dangerous company while he was at Microsoft each day. But after he left, Google’s danger to Microsoft bottom line increased dramatically. The company has enjoyed strong growth of its Android mobile operating system. Google Search is still an exceptionally successful service. And Google’s advertising efforts are second to none online. Worst of all, the company is now gunning for Microsoft’s core business with the upcoming release of Chrome OS. Not even Gates could have predicted how dangerous Google could become in such a short amount of time.
- Coming Late to The Party Is Never Good
If nothing else, Microsoft has shown since the Gates era ended that being late to different markets is trouble. The company has yet to offer a touch-capable mobile operating system. It took far too long to jump on the netbook bandwagon. And tablets featuring Windows 7 still have yet to make their way to store shelves, even though Apple’s iPad is capturing market share by the minute. Microsoft has been late on too much since Gates’ departure and so far, it doesn’t seem like it’s changing.
- Remember that Enterprise Buyers Made Microsoft Rich
Under Bill Gates, Microsoft was fully aware that the enterprise was the key to its success. But since he has left, Microsoft might have lost its way in the enterprise. It tried to stick Vista down the throats of companies. And by not offering a viable alternative to RIM’s BlackBerry or even the iPhone, which is starting to gain traction in the corporate world, the software company is missing out. The enterprise is still Microsoft’s ticket to profitability. It can’t lose sight of that.
- Security Is Still a Killer
Unfortunately for Microsoft, even after Bill Gates has left, security is still a major issue at the company. Since Gates’ departure, most of Microsoft’s major software packages have suffered from security woes that have required patching. Admittedly, the company has gotten better in recent years at dealing with security problems, but they still persist and are often cited by Microsoft detractors whenever it comes time to say something negative about the company. Security was a problem before Gates left and it’s just as big of an issue nowadays. That’s a lesson that Microsoft has been forced to live with.
- The Cloud Is the Future
When Bill Gates left Microsoft, it was relatively well-known that the cloud was likely to be the future. But the company at the time didn’t do enough to prepare for that. But Google did, which explains why the search giant has such a head start over Microsoft. It should be noted that the idea of moving to the cloud is still in its infancy, so Microsoft can (and is currently trying to) catch up, but once again, the company wasn’t as prepared as its competition for the changing times. And it could come back to haunt it.
- Internet Explorer Won’t Last Forever
When Bill Gates left Microsoft, most of the people in Redmond believed that Internet Explorer would stand atop the browser market for the foreseeable future. But since then, its future success isn’t so guaranteed. With the European Union forcing Microsoft to give users browser options, the company is losing market share to competing services. It might not be the end of the world for Microsoft, but it’s certainly troubling. Internet Explorer can filter users to Bing and other online services from the company. If users opt for Chrome instead, Microsoft could be in for trouble.