Microsoft Must Break Away from the Old Guard
5. Ditch Internet Explorer if Version 9 won't work Most folks who have gotten their hands on Internet Explorer 9 beta have said that it's a major step forward compared with previous versions of the software. If that's true, Microsoft has no choice but to bring it to the market. However, Microsoft simply cannot deliver another poor browser to customers. But if IE 9 fails to win back users or stem the erosion of Internet Explorer's market share, Microsoft has to consider turning its back on the browser wars. Internet Explorer might be an integral component in Microsoft's business, but if it continues to make it look bad, it has to go, no matter how big of an impact ditching it might have on Microsoft's business over the short term.6. Double-down on security spendingSecurity is a black eye that has only hurt Microsoft's brand over the years. And yet, the company continues to trudge on without addressing those concerns as well as it should. Going forward, Microsoft needs to double-down on its security spending and make it clear to the world that it wants nothing more than to become a leader in security. If it can do that, it will go a long way in rebuilding its brand. 7. Distance itself from Bill Gates Bill Gates might be an iconic figure in Microsoft's history, but he is a lightning rod for folks who want to criticize Microsoft. He is the epitome of the Old Guard, Microsoft dominance and everything else that today's consumers don't necessarily like about Microsoft. Realizing that, it might be time for Microsoft to distance itself a bit from Gates. He might not like it at first, but if he truly wants to help his company, he'll realize it's the smart move. 8. Make Windows the lead Although Windows has its problems, the software is still the most desired operating system in the world by a wide margin. With that in mind, the operating system is also Microsoft's best entree to customers. If the company can improve Windows beyond what it has accomplished in Windows 7 and set the bar for operating systems, it might be able to lay the foundation for rebuilding its brand. 9. Get into hardware Microsoft has been extremely successful as a software company. But it might be time for the firm to consider getting into hardware. That doesn't mean that it should build PCs-it shouldn't-but it does mean that it should work on a smartphone, tablet and other products that will appeal to customers. Apple has proved that a strong marriage between hardware and software matters in today's industry. If Microsoft doesn't accept that, it will have a difficult time rebuilding its brand. 10. Build upon the Xbox 360's success Microsoft's Xbox 360 is arguably the best example of Microsoft fully understanding consumers in its history. The gaming console delivers outstanding functionality, great features and a huge library of viable titles. It has also proved that Microsoft can build its own hardware and appeal to consumers. Using the Xbox 360 as its guide, Microsoft should continue to find ways to innovate in areas where companies like Apple and Google aren't necessarily competing. If it worked in the gaming space, why wouldn't it work elsewhere? And the best part is, if Microsoft can become an innovator in customers' eyes, it will have totally rebranded itself.