Yes, Redmond, I am talking about the number one software company in the world.

This was before the time Google cooked up their search engine algorithms, around the time Apple was finding just how hard the hardware market can be. The middle of the 80s to start of 2000s. No one did software as well as Microsoft back then. Few, if any, came close.

But then something happened.

Something tragic.

Hot on the heels of one of its biggest successes ever (Windows XP), the company messed up development and then delivery of Windows Vista. Was it because of the fact that they had a bean counter at the helm instead of a true software visionary; Steve Ballmer as opposed to Bill Gates? Or was it the case of aiming for the sky? The original feature set of Vista was stuff of dreams, after all.

Not all features shipped with the retail copy, many were discarded. Microsoft was forced to do a painful little development reset in August 2004 to put Vista back on track.

It was around this time that they lost part of their magic. Software magic.

It was around this time that they allowed their current competitors latitude. The refreshed Apple, the resurging Google, the rushing Amazon. The groundwork for what these companies, even Samsung, HTC and friends, were to become was laid in these years.

The years before the turn of last decade.

The years Microsoft toiled away fixing Windows Vista, releasing Windows 7.

But now with Windows 8 out, now with the foundation laid (and then some), it is time for Microsoft to stand up and start delivering innovation. All of its platforms are now almost on par with competitors, at least when it comes to core feature sets. Or will be at par this summer.

It is time to be great again, Redmond.

Will we see the real Microsoft at BUILD tomorrow? The best software company in the business? The one that shows others how it’s done? No more catchups. Just plain good coding.

No better time than now, as they say.

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  1. the truth be told, I don’t see microsoft trully recovering. Here is why..

    1st: Windows 8 and 8.1 uses an interface that has been in market for 2 years on linux witch puts them 2 years behind linux.

    2nd: Linux has and continues to out perform Windows at every turn in gaming. It all comes to a matter of time before all the major gaming companys make the change and relesing Linux versions of the game.

    3rd Microsofts app store is a joke. First off, Linux has had a system like that running for close to 6 years or longer, and only 1/8th of the apps that can be installed on linux are on it. Second 90% of the apps that are on Microsofts app store show up in the store are just links to a site to download the app witch means that Microsoft just made it even easyer for a black hat hacker to mass distribute a virus. unlike linux that uses a try but true method of testing and retesting before putting any software on there reposatory

    I could go on and on i just don’t have time

    • Philip Paulson / April 2, 2014 at 6:43 am /Reply

      I agree, this gaming business is a serious threat. Steam is breathing heavily on the tail, and if some of the major developers take up Linux gaming, then we could see a bit of a shift. Microsoft will have to be wary of all this, as it tends to its new Modern ecosystem.

  2. I don’t agree with this article at all. Microsoft still makes better software than anyone out there. Of course Microsoft has to deal with more unjustified criticism and nit-picking than anyone out there as well. All this could bounce off them like a Teflon Don, when their main product was pretty much the only major consumer computing product out there. But when you have competition from all sides, and people pretty much accept anything they do because they’re not you, you have an uphill battle on your hands. WP8.1 and Win8 Update 1 will be great improvements to their current platforms. They’re doing pretty well considering it took a couple years for either of them to have all the features they should and how popular it is to down talk anything from Microsoft. Next year all their products will be even better, and even 3 Microsoft products are top 10 in the Apple Store, so they’re doing pretty well. But anyone who thinks they can just focus mainly on software obviously didn’t see how poorly a job everyone did of putting out Windows 8 devices and everyone besides Nokia has ever done putting out and pushing WP

    • Philip Paulson / April 2, 2014 at 6:48 am /Reply

      But if they do create software that is notable better than what the competitors are creating, then that will put a lot of this criticism to rest.

      At the same time they can’t afford to slow down on the hardware front now that they are in the game, as you said. But software and cloud should be, by far, the primary objectives. Leadership in both these areas.

  3. Macpaul Emeka Ekwueme / April 2, 2014 at 10:34 am /Reply

    @disqus_3ox2N3RHor:disqus, if all you’ve said were even half the fact, I wonder why Linux hasn’t taken off that well yet.

    • Philip Paulson / April 2, 2014 at 12:44 pm /Reply

      Oh, okay. 🙂 I do agree that it Linux is yet to go mainstream, but it just might if it gets a sustained push from somewhere. And that somewhere being gaming. Steam is giving their all to SteamOS, and if they manage to create a stir, then things can get interesting.

      On it’s own, though, Linux has been slow to gain market share. This much is very true.

  4. Yes. Hopefully the departure of Ballmer is a Three Finger Salute to the old MS. Judging by how they are taking the XBOX ONE E3 presentation seriously this time around and by putting Phil Spencer at the helm, the old MS just might have a fighting chance of coming back.

    • Philip Paulson / April 2, 2014 at 12:39 pm /Reply

      Quite agree. Even the opening presenter at BUILD took a nice little jab at Ballmer when he talked about chanting (Developers, developers, developers). Ballmer had passion, but he did not know technology inside out as some of the other executives.

      He departed at the right time, and now Microsoft can really get back in the game, provided they make the right decisions, at lightening pace.

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