At Daring Fireball, there’s this whole discussion about how Microsoft has given Windows 8 tablets to developers, and how this is something that would never have happened at Apple.
Apple, you see, is this company that never releases anything that’s unfinished to the world. No, it all has to be perfect, beautiful, and dare I steal the word back, “Magical”.
Apparently, this developer tablet is quite a bit short of “magical”. It has, apparently, a fan which blows hot air all over the place.
The whole discussion misses the point completely, of course.
Microsoft is doing what it always does: it uses business strategies to win whilst avoiding being forced into technical and design excellence.
Now, I don’t for a moment suggest that Microsoft has no technical and design excellence. Only that it is not its core competency.
In this case, by pre-releasing Windows 8 on a prototype tablet Microsoft is saying to the enterprise: “look, we have an alternative. It is coming. It is real. You should wait so you don’t have to chance anything”.
Lots of large Enterprise customers will wait too, because if it is just another version of Windows, it will be preferable to having to create infrastructures for something completely new, like iOS or Android.
The business strategy of pre-announcement was what allowed MS-DOS to prevail of CP/M-86 back in the day. Was MS-DOS technically superior? Of course not: it was an out-and-out clone.
What other business strategies has Microsoft used to ensure it wins?
Windows was technical inferior in every way to Macintosh OS for almost a decade. Microsoft won, though, by adopting another business strategy: bundling.
It already had big hits prior to the days of Office with Word and Excel. So when the next version of Windows was ready, it made both programmes dependent on it, and gave it away on the same disk.
if you wanted Word or Excel, you had to install the technically inferior Windows 2.0. Lots of people did just that.
IE? Set the price at zero, and bundle with another product which by then, had huge demand: Windows.
There are lots of other examples.
I would not bet against Windows 8 Tablet’s success, even if right now I can’t see any reason why I’d give up my iPad.
For the same reason, I would not bet against Windows Phone. The Nokia and Skype thing is genius.
I really do think we’re moving into a post-pc world. But, as I’ve said before, Microsoft knows what it is good at.
Note to Microsofties who read this: I know every time I suggest you’re not technically brilliant, or not genius innovators, or say something that’s equally inconsistent with the internal image of Microsoft, you’re annoyed. But look what you all built without those things.
That, by itself, is remarkable.