Confusing the customers
No longer should a company tremble just because Microsoft has bought into their space. Microsoft seems to have forgotten how to do things that make people excited about becoming its customer. In its existing product lines, the introduction of Longhorn and popularization of 64-bit Windows XP desktops offer opportunity for Microsoft to create some real excitement. So far, 64-bit computing is flying under the radar, and few customers seem to really understand what Longhorn is all about. Microsoft has succeeded in FUD-ing its own customers.One of the points Directions makes is that Microsoft isnt very good about sharing its future direction with customers. Redmonds roadmaps seem to be very much subject to change, contributing to the FUD-ing previously mentioned. Security is both Job #1 for Microsoft and a critical distractionfor both the company and its customers. I have yet to see anything to support Bill Gates rosy assessment that security issues will soon be behind us. Actually, I have and its called Mozilla. But Mozilla isnt so much a better product as, not being Microsoft, a non-target for those on the dark side. Talk about being the victim of your own success. Microsoft has also not been able to use the Media Center, thus far, to spark significant new PC sales. And while Pocket PC is likely to become the enterprise standard, Microsofts Smartphone project seems to be making little headway on the global stage. Lets put it another way: Media Center and Smartphone have been expensive failures, although either could turn around sometime in the future. Like Microsofts tablet initiative seems to have managed to do. Microsofts overall strategy is to grow its way out of the problems it faces by selling into emerging markets. In those places, customers dont already own something thats "good enough" that they avoid new purchases. Microsoft is interested in the Chinese market in particular. As that country creates a capitalist economy essentially from scratch, Microsoft wants to be a major partner. But to do this, Microsoft must put a lid on open source without having to give its own software away. That also means addressing the Asian software piracy issue, or more specifically, getting governments to take it seriously enough to do something about it. Open source is also a global issue for Microsoft, which needs to continually (and convincingly) remind customers what they are playing for and why. Click here to read more about the threat that open source poses to Microsoft. All these things are much easier said than done. Indeed, Microsoft has teams of people who are much smarter than me trying to meet these challengesand not succeeding very often. Yet, the challenge is clear: Microsoft must relearn how to reliably and repeatably put something exciting in front of the excitable. Doing this is much harder than it used to be, but it is Microsofts burden for 2005and beyond. For more insights from David Coursey, check out his Weblog. Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.