There has been a lot of pessimistic media lately regarding the future of Microsoft. A recent article titled: "Microsoft Could Be Obsolete By 2017: Gartner Report" certainly has an attention grabbing “click through” headline—but the article itself fails to recognize Microsoft’s future growth potential with enterprise software. Perhaps the blog is an attempt to influence stock prices or public perception. A report that looks ahead at technology five years down the road, makes predictions, then publishes a bold headline based on a short time cycle? We can just as easily state that in 5 years Apple will be in trouble because of Steve Jobs’ passing, or due to Samsung’s tenacity and overall value. The truth is, in this world of rapidly changing technology, coupled with mergers and acquisitions, no one can predict technology 5 years in advance.
Left In The Dust
The author correctly points out how Microsoft has fallen way behind Google and Apple in the Mobile industry. Most people also know by now that Google is also targeting Microsoft Office users with their free cloud based services. So, yes, during this cycle, Microsoft is not #1 in mobile devices, and they are being chased in their own backyard as they continue to harvest cash from their flagship Office software.
Holy Cash Cow
However, I disagree with the statement “Microsoft could be completely irrelevant in three or four years if they can’t make headway in the smartphone or tablet market, where they’ve been struggling.” Sure, Google and Apple have grown exponentially the past few years. Change is here to stay. But Microsoft has always been a software development company. Their Office Suite of products is a cash cow, and is used by over 1 billion users around the globe. That’s a lot of momentum and a lot of cash.
A Diverse Sleeping Giant
Office software, in addition to their browser, programming tools, gaming system, Windows operating systems including Windows 8, CE.Net, and Windows Mobile, and most recently some cloud based services will continue to provide the cash and resources for R&D and remaining relevant for several years. Microsoft has made some mistakes recently. They have fallen behind in some segments; but there are many segments to target. Perhaps they should stay out of the hardware business and just focus on software. Perhaps they should bring back Bill Gates. They have some decisions to make, but overall are in a growth position. Their recent partnership with Nokia has yet to pay off, but seems to be making some inroads in China. Microsoft is an extremely diverse company, often referred to as “the sleeping giant.”
Solid OS Platform
In the AIDC industry, Windows OS’s are installed on nearly all devices. While Droid just started making inroads with some installations, there continues to be the nagging debate about the lack of security on Droid devices. Microsoft is also perceived as offering more security with their phone OS; not so with Apple or Droid. Most enterprises will opt for software that offers security and stability. Microsoft is in the midst of standardizing their operating system across all device types including PC’s, tablets, phones, and handheld barcode devices. This should open the floodgates for developers and should propel Microsoft to have their software installed on all types of devices. Smartphones are convenient and keep everyone connected; but for certain types of work, are not as viable. The PC will still be here in five years. Personally, I still prefer doing most of my work on my PC—it’s most efficient and more secure that way. Based on some of the comments on the Gartner report, I am not alone.