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Posts tagged with ‘microsoft’

Yammer Pushes To Be The ‘Enterprise Graph’

At Yamjam 2012 today, Yammer has announced the next iteration of its enterprise platform plans, called the Enterprise Graph. Yammer is a leading work media player, and was acquired earlier this year by Microsoft for over $1B.

This new generation of Yammer’s API is designed to allow enterprise software vendors to embed Yammer functionality into their apps. This is a real parallel to the Facebook platform strategy, and the idea is similar, allowing others to embed specific bits of Yammer functionality — such as activity streams, follow and like buttons, and pages —within those third party apps.

This functionality reminds me of Socialcast Reach, but a few years after that pioneering approach (perhaps a few years too early).

Obviously, Yammer and Microsoft are pushing aggressively to become the platform of choice for enterprise apps to become social, trying to take the high ground in the new battlefield in the work media marketplace.

Microsoft Surface: Too Little To Late?

Microsoft is gambling a lot for a chance to fight with Apple, Amazon, and Google for the proximal (‘mobile’) device market. They are pissing off their historic partners, like Dell and HP, by making their first computers ever. The alternative might be to simply become an enterprise software company, milking Office, Sharepoint, and Yammer for the next decade.

I admit I like the keyboard cover idea, but I expect Apple will respond to that quickly.

But it may be too late, since the clients they want to attract with Surface and later products have already moved ahead with deployments of Apple and Android tablets:

With New Tablet, Microsoft Faces a Balancing Act - Nick Wingfield via

Rich Adduci, chief information officer of Boston Scientific, a medical device company, has more than 20,000 PCs at his company using older Windows. But he has also deployed more than 5,500 iPads to sales representatives and other employees.

A day late and a dollar short?

How Microsoft Lost Its Mojo: Steve Ballmer and Corporate America’s Most Spectacular Decline - Kurt Eichenwald via Vanity Fair →

Kurt Eichenwald, Microsoft’s Lost Decade

Once upon a time, Microsoft dominated the tech industry; indeed, it was the wealthiest corporation in the world. But since 2000, as Apple, Google, and Facebook whizzed by, it has fallen flat in every arena it entered: e-books, music, search, social networking, etc., etc. Talking to former and current Microsoft executives, Kurt Eichenwald finds the fingers pointing at C.E.O. Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates’s successor, as the man who led them astray.


The story of Microsoft’s lost decade could serve as a business-school case study on the pitfalls of success. For what began as a lean competition machine led by young visionaries of unparalleled talent has mutated into something bloated and bureaucracy-laden, with an internal culture that unintentionally rewards managers who strangle innovative ideas that might threaten the established order of things.

By the dawn of the millennium, the hallways at Microsoft were no longer home to barefoot programmers in Hawaiian shirts working through nights and weekends toward a common goal of excellence; instead, life behind the thick corporate walls had become staid and brutish. Fiefdoms had taken root, and a mastery of internal politics emerged as key to career success.

In those years Microsoft had stepped up its efforts to cripple competitors, but—because of a series of astonishingly foolish management decisions—the competitors being crippled were often co-workers at Microsoft, instead of other companies. Staffers were rewarded not just for doing well but for making sure that their colleagues failed. As a result, the company was consumed by an endless series of internal knife fights. Potential market-busting businesses—such as e-book and smartphone technology—were killed, derailed, or delayed amid bickering and power plays.

That is the portrait of Microsoft depicted in interviews with dozens of current and former executives, as well as in thousands of pages of internal documents and legal records.

“They used to point their finger at IBM and laugh,” said Bill Hill, a former Microsoft manager. “Now they’ve become the thing they despised.”

If we need proof that someone can make a billion dollars and still be an idiot, look no farther than Steve Ballmer. Why is he still running Microsoft, by the way? Will Gates come back and retool for 21C?

Does anyone really believe that Microsoft can compete against Apple, Samsung, and Google on smartphones, at this point?

Maybe a corporate raider should buy them, and spin out the divisions that might be able to fly on their own, like PS2, sell the enterprise software side to IBM, and shut down the rest. Of course $MSFT market cap is still $246B, so it would take a lot of money to buy.

Anti-Misleading Talk Also Misleads →

I am helping MG Seigler by reducing his weasel wording and temporizing about Microsoft’s financials and his reading of the tea leaves.

MG Seigler via parislemon

[…] what we’re seeing in Microsoft’s numbers right now is the full-on shift of the company towards enterprise. To be clear, I think the company will remain alive and probably even thrive in that regard for a long time. I just think the time of their consumer dominance is already over. And within the next decade, it will be completely over. 

I think at that point, Microsoft will be an enterprise software and services company with a strange, but successful gaming sub-division that will probably be spun off by then. 

I totally agree.

Oh, and maybe Facebook will buy the Windows 8 code: they need an OS, bad. And Nokia to make the phones.

(Source: parislemon)

Andrew Kim channels Mary Shelley and tries to reanimate the lifeless carcass of Microsoft through a magisterial rebranding. ‘Be almost science fiction.’
I hope Microsoft has the sense to hire this guy, at least as a consultant.
(via The Next Microsoft - journal - minimally minimal)

Andrew Kim channels Mary Shelley and tries to reanimate the lifeless carcass of Microsoft through a magisterial rebranding. ‘Be almost science fiction.’

I hope Microsoft has the sense to hire this guy, at least as a consultant.

(via The Next Microsoft - journal - minimally minimal)

When one of the young developers of MSN Messenger noticed college kids giving status updates on AOL’s AIM, he saw what Microsoft’s product lacked. “That was the beginning of the trend toward Facebook, people having somewhere to put their thoughts, a continuous stream of consciousness,” he tells Eichenwald. “The main purpose of AIM wasn’t to chat, but to give you the chance to log in at any time and check out what your friends were doing.” When he pointed out to his boss that Messenger lacked a short-message feature, the older man dismissed his concerns; he couldn’t see why young people would care about putting up a few words. “He didn’t get it,” the developer says. “And because he didn’t know or didn’t believe how young people were using messenger programs, we didn’t do anything.”

Microsoft’s Downfall: Inside the Executive E-mails and Cannibalistic Culture That Felled a Tech Giant - Vanity Fair

The same observations about the use of AIM status updates led to Buddy Gopher, an app that consolidated the away field of your AIM buddies on a single page, now long shut down.

Microsoft completely missed the rise of social networks, but amazingly so did AOL, who had AIM as a great starting point.

I wrote about possibly building something cool on top of AIM based on the Buddygopher experiment, way back in 2006, and I was contacted by people reporting to Jim Bankoff, a VP at AOL. We set up a project to build what would have been a very cool app: project name Nerdvana. My partner, Greg Narain, and I were pushing at content curation through a stream-based, open follower architecture leveraging the 400M+ AIM accounts then in use.

Alas, Jim Bankoff, now CEO of SB Nation, left AOL after Randy Falco joined AOL. The project petered out without serious sponsorship, the budget pulled away to other AIM related projects. We never even got to build the prototype.

But Microsoft and Yahoo also failed to try to make the transition from disconnected buddylists to a unified social network. Likewise my client Jabber, who opted to not build a social network solution on top of its distributed protocol, and is now a part of Cisco.

You can say that these ideas were too early, but these are companies that had all the motivation in the world to experiment ahead of the wavefront.

Perhaps this failure to attempt to design speculatively is another proof of Ven Rao’s Manufactured Normalcy Field: the sense that the present will last a good while into the future, instead of the continuous creative destruction mindset, where the present is being relentlessly consumed by the future, which is only a few weeks, days, or minutes from now. But the bigger the company, the more likely they are to act as if the present is eternal, and the future is retreating as fast as they amble forward.

That’s why Microsoft has fallen so far, to the point where Apple’s revenues from the iPhone alone are more than Microsoft’s entire top line. That’s why AOL has fallen like a meteorite, vaporizing on a death trajectory toward the center of the Earth. That’s why Yahoo has lost its mojo. They stopped speculating, and tried to treat the future as the back porch of the present.

Microsoft’s developer problem – →

Marco Arment doesn’t actually say that Microsoft Surface or Windows 8 smartphones are doomed, but he cuts to the chase pretty fast: Microsoft is in real trouble because they are starting with next to zero apps, and app developers — like Marco — have migrated off Windows onto Mac:

Marco Arment via

By 2005 or so, most of those developers were working on web apps. The web was the platform for that kind of work for most of that decade.2

And during that decade, almost every such developer I knew switched to the Mac if they weren’t already there, partly because it was better for developing web apps.3

That’s one of the biggest reasons there was so much pent-up developer interest in the iPhone before the App Store opened: these consumer-product developers were all using Macs already. As the dominant consumer platform shifted from the web to apps over the last four years, most talented consumer-product developers built products for their app platform of choice during that time: the Apple ecosystem.

Many Windows developers were upset that iOS development had to be done on a Mac, but it didn’t hurt Apple: the most important developers for iOS apps were already using Macs.

But the success of Windows 8 and Windows Phone in the consumer space requires many of those consumer-product developers, now entrenched in the Apple ecosystem, to care so much about Windows development that they want to use Windows to develop for it.

How likely is that?

Anything’s possible, but that’s going to be an uphill battle.

Actually, I don’t think that anything’s possible. But Microsoft might be able sway some developers by subsidizing development of critical apps, as reported by Bijan Sabet. I don’t think that will be enough.

Windows Phone 8 to go head-to-head with Apple's iOS 6 - Phillip Elmer-Dewitt via Fortune →

I feel like Elmer-Dewitt is writing an alternate reality scifi novel in this piece, where he makes it sound like Microsoft is still the worldbeater company of the last century, and Apple is the tiny upstart:

Phillip Elmer-Dewitt via Fortune

As predicted, Microsoft (MSFT) took the wraps off its next generation smartphone strategy Wednesday at the Windows Phone Developer Summit in San Francisco.

With Apple (AAPL) expected to introduce a new iPhone in conjunction with the scheduled release of iOS 6 this fall, the stage is set for a holiday face-off between these two long-time rivals in the battle for second place after Google’s (GOOG) market-leading Android smartphones.

Once again, Microsoft will be trying to stretch its lead on the desktop by taking a version of Windows into the mobile device marketplace. Apple, meanwhile, will be playing into its strength in devices that operate smoothly together in an easy-to-use software ecosphere.

Let’s clarify things:

  • Apple is the dominant player in smartphones. The iPhone revolutionized the industry, and Android (which is primarily Samsung) is ahead on unit sales, but Apple is catching up.
  • Yes, Samsung has sold more units: 43M to Apple’s 35M, with Nokia a distant third at 11.9M (mostly Symbian) and falling fast.
  • Samsung and Apple together get about 90% of all the profits in the smartphone market.
  • Apple posted record sales of the iPhone in q1’12, with 35M units sold and $24.4B in iPhone profits for the quarter, up from $10B a year before.
  • Microsoft is the provider of some Nokia phones, but Windows 7 is a tiny, tiny blip.

I don’t really see what Elmer-Dewitt is up to, but Apple is the clear market leader in the high profit laptop >$1000 sector. Who cares if Dell or no name manufacturers are selling bazillions of $450 laptops with $15 of profits?

Apple has the money and vision to create amazing products, and that’s not from selling badly designed, low-cost phones, laptops, or tablets.

And I am sure that Microsoft would love to perceived as going head-to-head with Apple. I think Windows 8 — what I have seen of it — looks cool, and might develop into a viable platform. But the characterization of Microsoft and Apple as side by side in the starting blocks for a race against Android is simply fiction, not analysis.

@stoweboyd: Microsoft is in talks to acquire Yammer: may pay more than $1B for the work media company (enterprise social network)
We are in the middle of a $600 billion disruption, but hardly anyone has noticed. The once-staid world of enterprise computing is in silent convulsions, with incumbent giants being assaulted by startups that are building from scratch for a new era in which the cloud, mobile, and on-demand software will dominate. Hot companies such as Dropbox, Asana, and Atlassian will ascend to the throne, while the corpses of the old rulers – Microsoft, Oracle, SAP – will lie rotting in the gutter. The Great Replacement is beginning.

- Hamish McKenzie, The Great Replacement: Microsoft, Yammer, and a New World in Enterprise Computing via PandoDaily

Hamish inteprets Microsoft’s eagerness to acquire the work media company, Yammer, as something greater than the value of the business — even given its solid team, momentum, and product — but instead as part of a strategic vision of a ‘great replacement’ of the current generation of enterprise software. This transition may take a decade or more, but we will witness the slow dismantling of server-based software running onsite, and the migration to cloud-based solutions, like Yammer.

Hamish also points out that Microsoft has deep expertise in running massive cloud solutions, like HotMail, which they acquired in 1997.

I agree that players like Microsoft, SAP, and Oracle are not going to let themselves be squeezed out of the market by upstarts: they will buy a seat at the table, and cut the cards.

(via worktalkresearch)

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