The One Thing I Want to See from Microsoft

on June 13, 2012

I have been following the news coming out of Microsoft’s TechEd conference closely. I was scheduled to attend the event but family circumstances altered my plan. There are a host of things that are of interest to me regarding Windows 8. Not everything I am interested in will be addressed until much closer to launch but it has been interesting to see the major messages around their next major software release at their TechEd conference.

The more I study the trends in the industry the more I am convinced that Microsoft’s future depends on them becoming a hardware agnostic software company. Throughout most of Microsoft’s history, all their major innovations and value have been strictly limited to companies who license their software platform Windows. This worked in a Windows dominated world but with the role of smartphones, tablets, and even shifting tides in notebooks / desktops, it is clearly no longer a Windows dominated world. I don’t personally believe we will see a Windows dominated world again the way we did as the computing industry was maturing.

Related: Why History Won’t Repeat Itself

If this is true then the market will support a multitude of software platforms. Which means for a company like Microsoft the key strategy should be to innovate through software for all hardware platforms.

The first obvious move could mean to bring Office to platforms like iOS, Android, and perhaps RIM IF they make a comeback. Reports have come out about Office for iPad and I hope they are true. Microsoft is committed to Office and it would be wise for them to re-envision office for every software platform. When Microsoft began taking the Mac and OS X seriously they brought office to the Mac in a relevant way and did not just port the Windows version. I believe they should do the same thing for iOS, Android, and perhaps Blackberry 10 if it gains traction.

But the thing I would really like to see from Microsoft is something new. Something not Windows and something not Office for personal computing. Microsoft’s innovations have revolved around Windows and Office but I wonder what is beyond. I’d like to see new software, for the new personal computing era, created by Microsoft.

Take for example Apple’s iLife suite of software. It blows my mind that Microsoft has not felt compelled to solve the problem of ease of use for digital media creation and management. I know Microsoft has relied on partners in this area like Adobe, ArcSoft, Pinnacle, etc., but given how key this experience is to consumers I would have thought it was important enough for Microsoft to control the way Apple does.

Even if the area of creativity is not of huge interest to Microsoft I would like to see them create new software or apps that is unique and fresh for their ecosystem and beyond. Windows and Office have been pillars for Microsoft but I am not convinced they are the only legs they have to stand on going forward. I appreciate their efforts to re-think user interfaces for the next era but I still want to see more. I also wonder if just re-imaging a user interface is enough in todays world.

We are entering a new era of computing where we will face new problems which will present new opportunities to solve through software. Which brings me to the one thing I am desperately interested to see from Microsoft. Vision.