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Microsoft and Hardware

October 11th, 2012

Steve Ballmer:

With the Windows 8 launch on the horizon, Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer today outlined a future in which the company will dabble in software and hardware “to deliver a broad spectrum of Windows PCs, tablets and phones.”

Yes. Because their forays into creating hardware devices have been so successful in the past.

He continues:

Ultimately, Microsoft wants to deliver products that offer a seamless experience. “So right out of the box, a customer will get a stunning device that is connected to unique communications, productivity and entertainment services from Microsoft as well as access to great services, and applications from our partners and developers around the world,” Ballmer wrote.

Sounds nice. And so original, too. Too bad Apple never thought up anything like th—HEY, wait a minute!

Every time Microsoft has tried to copy Apple in making some new device or sales strategy outside of pure software, Microsoft has failed rather miserably. Heard much about Zunes lately? Been to a Microsoft Store? How many people who just can’t wait to get a new Surface tablet do you know? Or even have a Microsoft phone?

Naturally, Ballmer talked up Windows 8 as a way to achieve this goal. “Windows 8 unites the light, thin, and fun aspects of a tablet with the power of a PC,” he said.

All on the assumption that you can cram both into one unit. That people will accept a tablet, designed to be held in one or both hands, as a serious authoring device. Or will accept as a serious computer a device which is essentially a tablet with a bad keyboard, holding this to be superior in some way to a Macbook Air or Ultrabook.

It is, essentially, the exact same strategy they used when they tried to sell “tablets” which were really modded laptops, again and again, and failed each time, before Apple said, “a tablet is something you hold in your hand, and so is much better suited for consumption.” A strategy which worked where Microsoft’s failed, allowing Apple to now dominate the mobile market. So here comes Microsoft again, saying, “Hey, tablets are popular now! People are certain to buy our tablets-and-laptops-are-the-same-thing strategy this time!

Who knows. I could be wrong. Maybe with powerful enough chips, tablets acting like PCs will be all the rage. However, with Microsoft’s track record, something tells me not to have too much faith in their approach.

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  1. Troy
    October 11th, 2012 at 02:20 | #1

    If I’m reading it right, Sony has a market cap of $11B today.

    Apple made that much money in the last quarter.

    Hello, Apple! Pull the trigger and acquire your first PC maker.

    The synergy between Apple and Sony would be interesting and if done right would be something new, like how the merger between Apple and NexT went down.

    Not that Apple needs Sony’s problems to solve, but Sony does have tons of consumer cred still.

    As for Microsoft, they’ve been irrelevant at least since OS X got usable in 2002.

  2. matthew
    October 11th, 2012 at 21:37 | #2

    I had totally forgot about the MS stores. I actually happened to stumble across one a few years back in Phoenix. It was Dec of 2009 and I was visiting my family with my GF. We went to Scottsdale Fashion Park (very posh shopping mall) and saw the store. I think there were really pushing the kinect thing at the time. So there were employees interacting with it on a big screen TV. My memory is vague but I did walk past a MS store! LOL!

    BTW I would love to switch my whole operation to macs but the bank that handles my bank transfers only uses MS so I am out of luck. I have voiced my displeasure with them but countered with “Hey we just got around to upgrading our system to Window 7. Stop pressuring us!”

    Ahhh my local bank. Fun stuff. 😉

  3. Troy
    October 12th, 2012 at 01:46 | #3

    matthew, you can run Windows in Oracle’s VirtualBox VM software (free!), buy either VMWare Fusion or Parallels, or just dedicate a partition to it with Appe’s BootCamp, actually.

    I’d expect VM performance to be really good with the latest Ivy Bridge CPUs, and when Macs boot into Windows you can’t tell that the hw is a Mac at all.

  4. Luis
    October 12th, 2012 at 02:29 | #4

    Heck, I run Windows 7 on my Mac almost daily using Parallels. I remember how it used to take XP a few minutes for even a saved state to churn up to 100%. Now, 7 pops up in seconds, and runs smooth as silk on my Retina Pro. Very nice.

  5. Troy
    October 12th, 2012 at 02:59 | #5

    and the great thing about running Windows in a VM is it’s really easy to back up your VM image.

    My Windows 7 virtual box system disk image is taking up 34GB now. With an external USB3 drive that would copy pretty quick for archiving.

    Virtual Box has a full-screen mode that works pretty well, too. And Window 8’s move to fullscreen apps actually goes pretty well with this I guess.

  6. matthew
    October 12th, 2012 at 09:10 | #6

    Thanks for the info. Forgot all about that option.

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