Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Stay of Execution for XP. Now what?

I wasn't at all surprised by Microsoft's quiet announcement that distributors would be able to continue selling XP systems until May 30, 2009.  It was set to go to the chair on January 31, 2009, but governer Ballmer granted it another stay.

Microsoft is solely to blame.  That is, if you can call it a situation in which "blame" is relevant.


First, they did a crap job of promoting Vista.  Almost 100 percent of the marketing was aimed squarely at home users.  Wrong crowd!  Should have aimed it at businesses (aka "enterprise").  That would have been the best hedge bet of all, especially now.

Second, they bothered to release Service Pack 3.  Dumb move.  If you want a crop to vanish, stop watering it.

Third, they blabbered about Windows 7.  That pretty much ended any serious chance for Vista adoption in most enterprise landscapes.  XP "works" and with IT budgets, let alone *entire* budgets, shrinking, what "works" is perfectly fine.

None of this is new to anyone really.  We all know the fumbles they've made.  From the $300 million boneheaded ad campaign, to their infamous achillies heal: shiney object syndrome.  Microsoft has led themselves astray and they need to step back and reassess their planning and execution habits.

What is "shiney object syndrome"?  It's the tragic illness whereby the patient is unable to stop chasing irrelevant things out of fear they will be passed up, even though it's something completely outside of their "core competency".  Search.  Media players.  Cloud services.  Browsers.  Games.  Mice and keyboards.  Really?  Seriously?  So what if they make a great mouse, that was the result of diverted resources that could have made Vista a grand slam product.

Microsoft has hit some great shots out of the park:  System Center, SQL Server, Visual Studio, and their swarms of API's and tools from WMI/WBEM to ADSI to COM to Powershell.  Even VMware is embracing Powershell like a steak dropped in front of a starving person.  Amazing, to me anyway.  So with all these silos of great planning and execution, why can't they reproduce those successes in all other areas?  Apple and IBM and Dell have seen their share of mixed success as well, but Microsoft has enough resources to afford a "stop and rethink" to fix the blaringly obvious ones.  Its' just weird.

If Windows 7 is shoved out the door with the same lackluster marketing that Vista endured, it will be in for a very rough time.  The competition will pile on the slander and Vista 2.0 comparisons.  Perception is everything in marketing.  2009 is predicted to be a tough year for businesses.  Talk about a bad time to release a shiney new flagship product to your  most stingy of customers:  enterprise businesses.
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