These fears are overblown. First, the PC era is not ending, not for quite a while anyway. Secondly, all of the applications threatening the survival of Wintel as the Intel, Microsoft alliance is famously referred to, have PC-related applications and products supporting them.
I'm not hearing the wheezing sounds of a company about to croak from Microsoft Corp. In any case, before we write Microsoft’s epitaph in anticipation of its demise, we perhaps should ask a few rather simple questions about the company.
Let’s start with this: How fast is Microsoft growing or is it already experiencing severe sales slowing down?
Here are some numbers to chew on: In fiscal 2009 ended June 30, Microsoft’s sales were $58.4 billion, down 3 percent from the prior year – at a time most technology companies were reporting sales declines in the low to high 30 percent range. In fiscal 2008, the company posted sales of $60.4 billion, up 18 percent from $51.1 billion in 2007 and $44.3 billion in fiscal 2006.
For fiscal 2010, analysts forecast sales of the software company will rebound to $61.7 billion. That doesn’t sound like the last gasp of a dying company.
There’s a stronger reason not to bet against Microsoft and this comes from another critical question about what exactly the company does and the range of products it offers. When we discuss the end of the computing age and imagine Microsoft biting the dust as a result, we forget the wide range of applications and technologies it supports.
Microsoft’s software products go into PCs and while the personal computing market may be under threat from smartphones and the like, the fundamentals of the company’s business remain strong. These, according to Microsoft, include “servers, intelligent devices; server applications for distributed computing environments, information worker productivity applications, business solutions applications, high-performance computing applications, software development tools and video games.”
That’s not all. Microsoft is into game console, digital music, other entertainment devices and peripherals. The company has a hand in numerous other business applications, competes in online advertising and offers a raft of other proprietary products.
In other words, the equipment serving up content for and supporting your iPad, the iPod, the smartphones, the GPS, tablet PCs and whatever else is coming down the pike are servers for which Microsoft makes software products. Without those servers, the iPad is just a piece of chalkboard.
Microsoft’s bread and butter is the computing business but this is not a one-trick pony company. If you still want to bet against Microsoft, take a peek inside its vault. Microsoft closed its March quarter with $40 billion in cash and short-term investments plus $9 billion in long-term investments and only $3.75 billion in long-term debt. That’s a lot of ammunition for acquisitions, product development and whatever else the company wants to do.
I don’t doubt the ferocity of the competition but if anyone is going to cave in first, it won’t be the folks over in Redmond.
Microsoft has too huge cash reserves to die, most of us agree that it hasn't been innovating recently or the products usually have tough time to pass the beta, but then their business model is strong and the customer base is so huge to even think of its demise
Considering how many different areas they have their hands in, I agree that MS is not going away any time soon. Microsoft will probably come up with something that they haven't done before to see where it goes. Like they did came with their own search engine. I agree not all MS products are appealing. For example, the newest MS Office package is horrible to see the least. I have used MS word and excel 2010 and UI is uncessarily difficult. I don't know what the people at Redmond were thinking when they made it. However, Power Point 2010 is much better than the earlier version.
All in all, I don't think MS going away anytime soon. Considering the money they have in hand, they can buy out startups or other small companies to better their products and increase reach in the market.
You have to be a brave man (since all women are already brave) to write off a company like Microsoft. I fully agree. Even if the PC era ends (which I’m not so sure), Microsoft is too strong a company to die just because the sales of computers have slowed down.
Microsoft has evolved significantly over the last few years. Bing has caused a few jitters at Google and Sony is increasingly worried about the upcoming Xbox releases. Though Windows may still be Microsoft’s best selling product, it is no longer the only bread earner for the company.
While I agree that Microsoft has failed miserably on various avenues – Zune, Windows Mobile, Kin phones, but then “To err is human”. I think it’s foolish to write off a company of the stature of Microsoft.
- Keith Schaub
Cool article. Usually, these “Linux kills Microsoft on the desktop” predictions are made at the beginning of the year. It is refreshing to see such a prediction welcoming spring for a change. Hoping to see the same initiative next year.The blog is up I can say I really see this being Microsoft ends. Well then there is no doubt that today the company has come Microsoft other than too many.
MS won't be out soon for one reason, Bill Gates still holds a big share and still works there ... 1day/week.
the same old guy who beat steve jobs many years ago is still around, so don't bet it ll lose soon.
only if Bill suddenly disappears, then this comp might just fall apart hopelessly, like nortel etc...
From an engineer's point of view, Microsoft products keep moving farther and farther away from being useful for engineering development. All of the improvements I see are geared towards average consumers and business administration.
In the days of DOS, the PC/DOS combination while far from perfect did support the needs of the engineering lab quite well. Modern versions of Windows are simply not real-time enough for hard-core engineering use and is simply too difficult to program for and get the performance required to interface well to custom or unusual hardware or communications interfaces.
So while Microsoft may not be near death, as far as the engineering world is concerned it might as well be.
In my humble opinion, it's way past time for vendors of engineering-oriented software tools to make a mass migration to an OS that they (and we engineers) can depend on, and that won't radically change with the next release. I'd call Linux the best candidate.
Believe it or not, I still keep a DOS PC around for those times when I need to be able to harness the FULL power of a PC for customs engineering apps that I use in the lab. I'm not inclined to want to learn how to program at "ring zero" just so that I can use Windows to do the same thing.
The wearables space is wide open and exploding with opportunity, but that comes with design and sourcing issues, which some believe could be alleviated in part by the strength of the maker community and an open-source approach to this segment.
An engineer who has experienced firsthand the changes that the engineering profession has undergone since the days of Bill Hewlett and David Packard argues that the loss of innovative capacity is the direct result of a vacuum in American business thought leadership.