Time to Restore Windows Credibility

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2011-02-23 Print this article Print


5. The identity crisis hasn't been solved

One of the biggest problems with Microsoft over the years has been that it's still defined by some critics as that "Evil Empire" that uses Windows to rule the technology world. Now, more discerning analysts of the space will realize that Microsoft's influence in the tech space has declined somewhat in recent years. But the fact remains that Microsoft still wields tremendous market power. For that reason, there are many computer users who have switched to alternative operating systems and many more who would like to because they no longer want to contribute to Microsoft's wealth and technological dominance. Unless Microsoft finds a way to address that issue, Windows will always look like the tool Microsoft uses to rule the world.

6. How will it address the cloud?

When Google showed off Chrome OS, its cloud-based operating system that it plans to bring to lightweight notebooks and other platforms, some wondered how Microsoft would respond. After all, Microsoft sells the world's top operating system, and that platform just so happens to be offline. Will the company bring a full-fledged Chrome OS competitor to the market? Will it ignore Google's idea? No one knows for sure right now. But the sooner Microsoft makes a decision on cloud-based operating systems, the better it will be for the company.

7. Mac OS X is doing things right

Even though Apple's operating system still carves out just a small slice of the worldwide operating-system market, Mac OS X is a fine example of what can be achieved in the OS space. The platform is lightweight, it's well-designed, and it comes with far fewer security problems than Windows. Admittedly, some say that Mac OS X simply hasn't been tested enough by cyber-criminals for anyone to make a truly informed call on its security, but its use of sandboxing and administrator permission settings has helped keep Mac OS X users away from some problems. Those factors must be acknowledged. Outside of security, Mac OS X does a lot of things right. And it's arguably a more reliable operating system than Windows. If Microsoft can deliver a more Mac OS X-like experience with Windows 8, it could go a long way in improving its own standing in the OS market.

8. Pulling the enterprise from XP

The corporate world has always been integral to the success of Windows. If it weren't for so many companies choosing Windows over other operating systems, Microsoft wouldn't be Microsoft. But after the mistake that was Vista was addressed by Windows 7, Microsoft hoped the enterprise would ditch XP for its new operating system. So far, some companies have, and others haven't. Part of that is due to the Great Recession and tight budgets, but another part of that is due to concern over whether or not Windows 7 is right for their operations. This year, Microsoft should work with companies and make them realize that a timely switch to Windows 7 is a good idea.

9. Overcoming Vista anger

The enterprise wasn't the only stakeholder that was disappointed by the manifold shortcomings of Windows Vista. Vendors such as Dell and HP offered customers the right to "downgrade" their Vista installation to Windows XP. And consumers who feared that Vista was a bloated, poorly designed and potentially malware-ridden mess considered switching to Mac OS X or even open-source Linux. Along the way, Microsoft tried to make the case that those stakeholders should opt for its operating system. It didn't work. And Microsoft looked bad. Now that Windows 7 has been available for over a year, the unrest over Vista is starting to subside. But it's still out there in the enterprise and consumer markets to some extent. Microsoft needs to make a better case that Windows 7 is what Vista should have been. No more, no less.

10. Commanding the conversation

One of Microsoft's biggest problems related to Windows all these years has been that it doesn't fully determine the course of the discussion surrounding Windows. It allows the aforementioned critics to take it to task on security, Windows Vista, Microsoft's standing in the industry and much more. Going forward, Microsoft needs to find a way to take back the high ground in the debate and make sure people talk more about Windows' value, rather than its problems. It might be difficult at this point, given how many folks have targeted Microsoft over the years, but it's an absolute necessity. 

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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