The Empire Strikes Back: Apple, Google, Linux Are in Microsoft's Sights

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2010-06-28

The Empire Strikes Back: Apple, Google, Linux Are in Microsoft's Sights

I typically try to stay above the fray when it comes to company cheerleading and trumpet tooting, but Microsoft's Frank Shaw has posted a piece that simply demands attention.

In a post titled "Microsoft by the Numbers," Shaw, Microsoft's top public relations official, delivers a strong example of what the term "PR" is really all about. Shaw's post will be alternately scrutinized, analyzed, criticized and praised. And it will likely be used as slide show fodder by more than one news outlet (I must admit that I damn near did one myself!). But the bottom line is Shaw stood up and did his job. He did the hell out of his job.

He took some swipes that Microsoft has been reluctant to overtly take in the past. Sure, the company has made many of these points before, but it has done so a bit more passively. Or it has done it through proxies or with partners-as if to give the impression that the so-called heavy hand of the software giant was not behind the jab.

However, with his post, Shaw makes no pretense that anyone other than Microsoft is behind the message. And the message is: "We're here. We're Microsoft. We have the numbers to prove it. Get used to it."

Citing what he referred to as "a few of my favorite numbers," one of the first things Shaw did in his post was talk about the success of Windows 7. And he should. He listed 150,000,000 as the "Number of Windows 7 licenses sold, making Windows 7 by far the fastest growing operating system in history."

That was potent, but perhaps his best stroke was ending with some revenue figures. Shaw simply said:

  • $5.7 Billion: Apple net income for fiscal year ending Sep 2009
  • $6.5 Billion: Google net income for fiscal year ending Dec 2009
  • $14.5 Billion: Microsoft net income for fiscal year ending June 2009

Shaw calmly asserts a position that stands up to all the hype and furor over Apple's cool and market cap, Google's ascendance to supremacy, and trash talk that Ballmer's no longer the guy, and he says: Look at the numbers.

This stance is long overdue from Microsoft. The company needs to fight back and be proactive amid the onslaught of smacktalk.

Shaw also puts the iPad craze into perspective. He said: "1 million Projected iPad sales for 2010. 58 million Projected netbook sales in 2010. 355 million Projected PC sales in 2010." And he noted that although less than 10 percent of the netbooks sold in the United States in 2008 were Windows based, by the end of 2009 96 percent of the netbooks sold in the United States were running Windows.

Microsoft Uses Numbers to Prove Dominance


Shaw also takes it to the Linux server folks, another crowd Microsoft has routinely waged war with-guerrilla and otherwise. He calls out the numbers for Linux servers and gives the numbers as he sees them. Shaw says Linux commanded 24 percent of the server market in 2004, and the predicted server market share for Linux in 2007 (made in 2005) was to be 33 percent. Yet, as of the fourth quarter of 2009, Linux only held 21.2 percent of the server market. Of course, these numbers-perhaps more than some of the others-need to be vetted. But that does not diminish Shaw's effort.

It's the sheer directness of his approach that makes it stand out. And the fact that he names names. Shaw also took on-Microsoft's latest legal combatant, as the two companies have sued one another. has hired superlawyer David Boies to handle its case. Boies is said to have "beat" Microsoft in the past as the lead government attorney in Microsoft's landmark antitrust trial. And while Boies did show all kinds of legal sleight of hand in the courtroom, his only "victory" was to air some Microsoft dirty laundry and make Bill Gates look bad in a deposition. Although a trial judge wrote a scathing ruling calling for Microsoft to be broken into three, Microsoft won on appeal. Much the same outcome is anticipated here-a lot of sound and fury vindicating nothing and no one. Particularly not Marc Benioff, CEO of

Said Shaw: "100 percent chance that CEO will mention Microsoft in a speech, panel, interview or blog post."

Meanwhile, Shaw talks hosted e-mail, the cloud, search and other stuff, citing Microsoft's dominance or growth in the areas.

But because there was not much he could say about Microsoft's bungling of its handling of the company's mobile story, he tried to play it safe. He talks about the number of iPhone sales versus sales of Nokia phones and smartphones overall. But what about versus Microsoft-supported phones? What about versus Windows Mobile or Windows Phone? Where are those numbers? Who ya gonna call, Frank?

Meanwhile, closing his post (and being a bit ominous about the future), Shaw simply gave Microsoft's revenue figures in 2000 versus 2009. He shows that Microsoft's revenue more than doubled from $23 billion in 2000 to $58.4 billion in 2009. Will it double again in another 10 years? 

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