For most of their corporate lives, Microsoft and Apple have had fundamentally different strategies. Apple has looked to combine the software and hardware experience, then charge a premium for the synergy. Microsoft has gone the path of software development and left the hardware to other companies, in the process being able to flood the market with varied products catering to varied consumer tastes at varied price points. However, with the recent rise of Apple vis-a-vis mobile devices, Microsoft has had an epiphany: it is the fault of OEMs (computer manufacturers, like Dell, HP, Samsung, Lenovo, etc.) that Windows has such a bad reputation.
At Microsoft’s TechForum, Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer at Microsoft, had a bit to say when asked about Microsoft’s recent dive into the hardware market with Microsoft Surface (note the “we” in the following quote is referring to Microsoft):
I think one of the things evolved over a long time in the PC business was we stopped some years back really trying to actively curate what the devices looked like. We said, ‘oh the OEMs, that’s their design, they deal with it.’ We got huge diversity out of that at all possible price points, but it became hard to guarantee a uniform quality of experience that the end user had. If you were in front of a bad one then people said that was a piece of crap; it didn’t work a damn.
It turned out that we took the flak for the fact we had this highly variable experience.
Essentially, Mundie is saying they left the hardware to other companies and, when those companies failed to create quality machines, Microsoft took the reputation hit.
Mundie went on to say that, to solve this issue, Microsoft is now focusing on both software and hardware… like Apple. This is why Microsoft introduced Surface tablets and, although Mundie didn’t explicitly allude to mention it, why Microsoft will likely build their own smartphone in the near future.
As much as I hate to defend Microsoft, they do have somewhat of a valid point. You can buy crap Windows computers from crap manufacturers and have a crap experience. Or you can buy quality Windows computers from quality manufacturers and have a better experience. However, bad hardware is not an excuse for bad software. While I’m not saying Microsoft makes bad software per se (come on people, be fair — anything with such a large audience is bound to be the target of successful malicious attacks, regardless of how well or not-well the platform is coded), Windows is far from the perfect operating system. And Microsoft’s arrogance doesn’t help.
[via The Verge ]