What Microsoft Should Do in 2009

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What Microsoft Should Do in 2009

Rather than make predictions about what Microsoft might do next year, we take the bolder approach of giving unsolicited advice, whether or not it's wanted. The list of recommendations is in order of importance, from least to most, from 10 to 1. For those people wanting even more, there is a fuller list at Microsoft Watch.

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Chuck Windows Software Assurance Requirements

To get Windows Vista Enterprise, businesses must subscribe to Software Assurance. But there are increasing indications that the requirement deters enterprises from deploying Vista. Microsoft should dump the requirement but keep it as an option with something extra. How about this: big discounts when buying enterprise versions of Office 2007 and Windows 7 together with Software Assurance.

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The recession is an opportunity for smart companies with strong brands and loads of cash to maximize marketing effectiveness. Less ad chatter means Microsoft's message will be better heard and will keep people from forgetting the brand when they shop. Consumers and businesses spend less during recessions. Shouldn't they spend on Microsoft products?

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Fire Ad Agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky

The agency's marketing approach ranges from bizarre (Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld commercials) to ineffective (the "I'm a PC" campaign). What's missing from the marketing: the Microsoft lifestyle. Google offers a lifestyle around Android phones and Apple offers one around music, creativity and mobility. What's the Microsoft lifestyle? Marketing materials need to tell it and sell it. They don't.

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Expand Emerging Market Programs Such as Unlimited Potential

The global economy is a mess. Technology spending is going to decline. Governments and their citizens will be needy. Microsoft should be the hero and work with local partners to empower businesses, educational institutions, and government and nongovernmental institutions to buy and use Microsoft software and services.

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Be Real to People

Microsoft is easily ridiculed and its software is pirated. Why? Because it's a nobody. The company is a faceless, corporate entity. Microsoft needs someone like Bono to be the benevolent face, to give respect and personality. Bill Gates wasn't passionate enough. Steve Ballmer is passionate but not inspiring. It's time for somebody, anybody, to assume that role.

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Clean Up Branding, Its a Mess

Microsoft sells software like it's toothpaste. Should you buy Windows Total with tartar control or Windows White with gingivitis protection? Microsoft has got to consolidate brands and make sub-brands easier for buyers to understand. Brands should be simple and clear and have distinct logos. Right way: Azure, Expression, Silverlight, Xbox and Zune. Wrong way: Windows Live Search, Windows Vista Home Basic and Dynamics CRM Live.

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Become the Worlds Web Hoster

The global economic crisis will force companies to rethink technology investments. Every size business will be looking to remain competitive while cutting costs. Hosted services will be the remedy many cash-strapped businesses choose. Microsoft must get out Azure and Office Web in 2009. The following year will be too late.

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Incubation Projects Should Be Top Development Priorities

Much of Microsoft's best development work in 2008 came from incubation projects. Microsoft should keep them coming and better reward employees for their innovation. Projects such as Live Mesh, Photosynth and WorldWide Telescope are models to follow.

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Open Microsoft Retail Stores

Microsoft doesn't need hundreds of stores, just a dozen. Flagship stores can be tourist attractions and places where Microsoft promotes products the way they were intended to be used. Flagship stores can promote the Microsoft lifestyle. Recommended cities: Beijing, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, New York, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Sydney and Tokyo (or Seoul).

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Launch an Application Store

Apple has the right idea with its App Store, but iTunes and the iPhone are too confining. Microsoft should launch a Silverlight applications store for mobile devices, Windows and the Web. Microsoft has got all the pieces needed to make such a store work: authentication mechanism, development tools, DRM, e-commerce engine, product activation, and synchronization engine and service. But Microsoft must act immediately.