How Microsoft Will Die

by James R. Stoup Jul 01, 2005

Longhorn, by the features

WFS: Cut
.NET Framework: Cut
Integrated Search: Cut
Avalon: Who knows?
Indigo: Who knows?
IE7: You can repaint a Kia, lower it down, put rims on it and think you are cool, but at the end of the day it is still a Kia.

And so it goes, on and on. Feature after feature is cut, promise after promise is broken, and what do we have at the end of the day? XP SP3. If Microsoft fails to deliver something approaching decent with Longhorn then they will be in trouble. Big trouble. And most people haven’t even realized this yet. But they will soon enough.

Why are they in trouble?

Momentum. It all boils down to momentum. Google has it. Sony has it. Apple has it pouring out of its orifices, Microsoft though. . .not so much. 

You see momentum is what pushes that reluctant manager to go ahead and upgrade his system instead of waiting for something better or (very scary music plays in the background) switching to Linux. Momentum is what gets a word of mouth campaign going that convinces your everyday user to go out and buy the latest OS. Momentum is what keeps the media friendly, sort of. 

But lately MS has been getting all of the wrong types of momentum. They aren’t getting that “battering ram” momentum no, it’s more like at sinking ship momentum. You see the ram is going through, but the ship is going down. Big difference.

Right now Microsoft can’t even hold a press release about Longhorn without either saying its going to be delayed again or that they are cutting even more features. This really makes them look incompetent. I mean, I know they are incompetent but this really lets the rest of the world in on the joke as well.

And no matter how they spin it they have now reached the point where it’s impossible to make the situation sound any better than it is. Three years ago they could have made these announcements from a position of strength. Two years ago they could have made these announcements and then lied heavily in hopes of saving face. One year ago they made these announcements and it started looking really scary for anyone whose business depended on Longhorn. And now this year these announcements make them look like a company that is adrift, with no real vision, desperately trying not to drown. Congratulations Bill you have officially lost any momentum you thought you might have had. 

The 3 nails in the MS coffin

In order of importance:

1. Microsoft
They have always been their worst enemy. Shoddy software practices are forced on programmers due to incompetent managers which in turn produces the mess that is Longhorn. Even if the computing world was relatively quiet (which it isn’t, not by a long shot) then MS would still be in deep horse pucky over the gross stupidity that their leadership has shown. And to make matters even worse management has now realized that this time there isn’t going to be a “quick fix”. There are no more features left to cut. This time the deadline is real because their competitors are getting their act together in a way that hasn’t ever happened before.

2. Apple
Making matters worse is Steve Jobs. He has Apple humming like fine tuned violin. Tiger is everything Apple promised and its only been released for three months or so. And I imagine things are only going to improve.  And if that wasn’t enough Apple is going to squeeze out yet another OS before Microsoft can get Longhorn out the door. Ouch, yet another kick in the balls. Then you have this whole Macintel thing going on plus rumors about the iPod/ITMS/movie business all of which draw the attention of the media towards Apple’s successes.

3. Linux
Never forget Linux. They may be a disorganized, fragmented group who may not present a challenge on the desktop but they are chipping away slowly at MS’s dominance. Then on the server side Microsoft has finally realized that they are fighting a losing war. And this is evidenced by the growing number of MS backed “independent” research groups claiming Windows server is (pick one, cheaper, better, faster, more secure etc.). Those tactics speak of desperation. They are a smear campaign plain and simple.

This is a good indication of how bad the situation currently is and how much worse its going to get. Think about how much of a market share Apple has. Something like 3% of yearly sales with an install base of about 10-15%. Now, think about its mindshare. What is mindshare you ask? Well, its the extent to which people know about a phenomenon. The iPod has enormous mind share. You might not own one yourself but chances are you know someone who has does. The iPod alone has made Apple’s mindshare sky rocket. Now factor in the ITMS and how profitable it has been. Now think about the recent announcement of their switch to Intel. And then there is the ever present rumors about them starting a movie store much like the iTMS. People can’t stop talking about Apple and Jobs is just fanning the flames, trying his best to fuel the fires and feed the rumor mills.

And all the while the media focuses on Apple do you know who they aren’t talking about? Microsoft. Think about all of the buzz that MS has gotten in the past when they released a new operating system. And here they are about to release an item they claim is their most revolutionary product ever and . . . no one is listening. No one cares. Redmond is no longer where all of the news is coming from. If you are about to release a killer product, something that is going to save your company and allow you to ride its success for years to come, the last thing you want to hear are yawns.

News flash! Longhorn is going to be drastically overshadowed by Leopard and Macs running Intel. Make no mistake about it, Jobs is a master showman. As such, he will wait untill the best moment possible and then try and wow the world with all of Apple’s new toys. Who wants to cover a stripped down, bare bones, bug infested OS like Longhorn (which is already being called XP SP3 if that gives you any indication of how bad things are) when you can go look at Leopard running on a pumped up PowerMac with Intel’s latest and greatest chip inside?

Linux learns to game

More bad news for MS is called Cedega. And do you know why it is bad? Because it allows Windows only games to be played on a version of Linux called Linspire. Uh oh. Thats not good.

Gaming is the one area in which Microsoft can truly call their own. No one really even competes with them on the desktop as far as gaming goes. Anything else and Apple and Linux can put up a good fight but not when it comes to games. Until now. With the release of this product Half Life, GTA, Doom 3 and the rest can now be played in Linux. And if they can do it for Linux then they can do it for Mac.  And that simple fact should scare the heck out of Microsoft. Because if that program is ported to OS X then the top games in the industry can be played on a Mac, using Intel’s fastest chip, using NVidia’s best graphics card on a 30” aluminum display. Over night PowerMacs could become the best gaming rig in history.

And remember, its gamers who drive companies to produce the best product possible. Normal people don’t go out and buy the latest and greatest stuff just because it’s out, gamers do. When you are playing Doom 3 you want it to be as realistic as possible and if that means buying a $300 video card then they will do it. If that means buying the fastest processor they will do it. And if that means upgrading to the newest OS then they will do it. Say, we don’t know anyone coming out with a new OS any time do we?

Realistically how long do you think gamers will stick with Windows if it turns out that the best gaming experience can be had on a Mac? And if the rumors are true and Apple does bring AltiVec to the Intel side of things then it is quite possible that Apple may be the ones who very soon are producing the fastest computers anywhere. And remember, gamers always want more power.

Women and children first

Here is my best shot at what Microsoft could do to try and turn things around:

1. Admit defeat
If only to themselves MS has to admit that Longhorn is a complete and utter failure. To have come this far, spent this much money and wasted this much time to ultimately produce an OS which barely has any of the features that was to make it great, is a beyond pathetic. Time to own up to the fact that everybody screwed up.

2. Thin the herd
First one out the door needs to be Ballmer. He is an idiot on a good day and he has just reinforced that image with his bungling of the Longhorn situation. After he goes then its time to go down the line trimming the fat and doing some serious house cleaning. Once that is done then look outside the company for a few decent managers.

3. Do your best
Since Longhorn is the only thing you got at the moment that is what they are going to have to sell. Try to make the best out of a bad situation. This is the point at which you should be treading water while you work on something else.

4. Dump it
Throw all of the current Windows code away. All of it. Everything from 9x to XP to Longhorn, everything has to go. It’s all crap and its time to jettison those reeking piles of poorly written, buggy code.

5. Start over
This may be the hardest pill of all to swallow but the way I see it they have two choices. Plan A, try and make a new OS from the ground up. Just like the people who designed Unix, security and stability have to be your main goals. But that approach is going to take time, a lot of time in fact. And time is something that MS doesn’t have much of right now. So, they might want to look at plan B. Plan B involves doing pretty much what Apple did. Use BSD as the core of your OS then build around it. Now, I realize that doing this would be a major embarrassment and would require the biggest software company on earth to swallow its pride, but ultimately they would see that it’s the best choice.

6. Decouple
There is no need to make IE so deeply attached to your kernel. Bad things happen when you do stuff like that. Same thing with Media Player, uncouple it. Strive to make the system as small as possible. You build the basic system and then offer pieces that can be attached as needed.

7. Move on
It’s time to tell the public that if they want to use the newest applications for then they need to upgrade. Everyone who still uses 98 has to get real. All of you still using 95 need your head examined. And any of you using ME, God help you. Microsoft needs to stand up and inform people that they will no longer bend over backwards to accommodate their old, clunky, piece of crap software. Its time to update all of your applications. 95, 98, ME, 2000, XP and Longhorn are dead, move on. That step alone would make the OS much smaller, faster and more secure.

8. Accept the losses
Microsoft is going to lose market share no matter what they do. If they followed this strategy then they would lose market share faster than if they stuck it out with Longhorn but in a few years they would be in a much better position to come back and reclaim what they had lost.

Wrapping it up

So, there you have it. The current state of the Longhorn, a prediction of things to come and a few hints for the folks in Redmond. It will be fun to watch what happens in the industry in the next few years. We will see if I am right. What do you think? What did I miss?

Since I have received so many comments that seem to dwell on the same point let me clarify my position.  I don’t think Microsoft is going to go anywhere soon.  However, I do think that they are on the downturn.  They have reached their peak and now they are in decline.  It will take a long time for their influence to fade (a decade at least) and for a good part of that time they will still be a force to be reconded with.  But that still doesn’t change the fact that, as a company, they are falling instead of rising.

Check out my views on all of Microsoft’s business endeavors (present and future) here:
Microsoft’s Future Prospects


  • First off…  This goes to “Trust”‘s comment on 12/12/2005…  I guess Apple never has “endless” security updates, huh?

    Second, I take it Mac OS X never causes problems, huh?

    Mac OS X is SO TROUBLE FREE that Apple couldn’t POSSIBLY have a support section… could they?

    To BrainFromArous…  It’s great to know that, from what you’ve implied, that there are NO books on troubleshooting Mac’s…  Wonder how, GOD FORBID, you’ll EVER fix any Mac problem if one should arise?  Lucky for us poor MS Windows users we have the whole troubleshooting section to choose from!

    And wow, this must be a fake site, because there could NEVER be a VIRUS or MALWARE targeted at Mac OS X!!

    Look, bottom line is this…  Mac OS X, Linux Kernel Of The Day, Windows, etc all have the SAME EXACT PROBLEMS.  PERIOD.  I will venture to guess that at least 70%-80% of ALL Operating Systems use the SAME EXACT STANDARDIZED PROTOCOLS!  There is only 1 way to implement TCP/IP.  There is only one way to render graphics.  There is only one way to compute processes (You all know that now since Apple is now using an Intel Chip!).  So on and so forth.  The difference is that if it doesn’t do what you NEED it to do, then it is USELESS!  Mac OS X freezes on occasion.  I know this because I’ve used them for many, many years.  Linux has so many different versions and implementations and a LACK (currently…  this could change!) of KNOWLEDGABLE technitions that if there is a problem, good luck getting it fixed.  You can bash Microsoft all you like, and hopefully when you finish you feel better about yourself, but the old adage is true:  “History Repeats Itself”...  Notice how OS X is no longer a focal point for Apple anymore? Only thing they’ve been pushing lately is their iPod because it’s so sucessful.  Problem is they’ve recently repeated one of their historic blunders in that they were offered a VERY sweet deal from Microsoft to intergrate the website into the X-Box 360 Live console and they turned it down.  What I LOVE is that there will be a MILLION posts telling me how dumb I am and how smart Apple was.  But why go against history?  When has Microsoft EVER gone bankrupt?  (by the way, you all know Apple did in the ‘90’s and MS bailed them out).  When has Microsoft marketed and pushed only ONE single HOT item in the last ten years while seemingly ignoring it’s other products?  What is Apple’s strategy for profitability when the iPod takes a back seat to the X-Box Live Compatible mp3 Players?  And will you be CRAZY enough to attempt to provide an answer to that last question knowing that I’ll counter with at least 3 from Microsoft to your 1 from Apple?

    gameprix1 had this to say on Feb 17, 2006 Posts: 3
  • gameprix1 blathered:  “When has Microsoft EVER gone bankrupt?  (by the way, you all know Apple did in the ‘90’s and MS bailed them out).”

    Is this guy a troll? Anyone who reads this site (or similar sites) on a regular basis knows the history of Apple, and it was never close to bankruptcy, either in the 90’s or at any other time.

    At Apple’s lowest ebb - when they re-acquired Steve Jobs - they still had $3 Billion in the bank; yes, that’s $3 Billion, cash money. Part of the deal they made with Microsoft at the time is that M$ purchase $150 million of non-voting stock - but this wasn’t to bail out Apple - this was to settle the ongoing lawsuit, something about finding stolen MacOS code embedded in key areas of Windows, if I recall. In addition, they had to hang onto the stock for a minimum number of years, and continue to develop Office for Mac. M$ made a ton of $$ on that deal, actually, so it wasn’t anything charitable on Bill of Borg’s part. And M$ has recently committed to continue developing Office for Mac for another 5 years, at least. Turns out Apple users are M$ customers, too, fancy that.

    In addition, I’d like to remind certain folks that Steve pulled the plug on cloning because the goal - expanding MacOS market share - wasn’t happening. Overall market share was still dropping, and the “other Steve” was simply taking Apple’s customers away. Some of that $3 billion bankroll was used to buy out Power Computing, including its core brain trust and build-to-order facility. It was concluded that cloning in that context was too little too late. But OS X and Intel could one day change that.

    At home, we’re generally a Mac household, as it’s more stable and generally safer, particularly for my wife, who just wants to point and click and have done with it. We have a cheap XP box handy for those times when my spouse, the home-improvement junkie, wants to surf a site that insists on using pee-cee-only CaptiveX controls, which seems to plague the majority of design-it-yourself home improvement websites. We just agree that we won’t send any personal/financial information out via the pee-cee. (Plus, I use it to play Myst: Uru, the only game in the series that’s Windoze only)

    At work, I support 100+ machines in a Mac-dominant publishing environment. I have a G5 tower, an XServe, and three XP/SP2 Gateways. Two of them run special services - they’re behind the firewall, and run fine, 24/7 - I find I can generally rely on an XP box, so long as it’s only asked to do one or two things over and over.

    But I still look forward to the day when I can empower users by moving them to OS X without having to change out their hardware, PLUS allow them to keep leveraging their Win-apps investment.

    tao51nyc had this to say on Mar 14, 2006 Posts: 45
  • /SYS/Deepthought starting up…
    /SYS/error>word limit
    skipping to summary…
    Summary: basically, just go to the aple site, click on getamac tab, read, or compare apple support to windows support (check software AND hardware, if they support support forums).

    deepthought had this to say on Aug 31, 2006 Posts: 7
  • hey! only three more blogs till 100 total
    2 now..

    deepthought had this to say on Aug 31, 2006 Posts: 7
  • 1 now..

    deepthought had this to say on Aug 31, 2006 Posts: 7
  • congragulations! this blog now has 100 comments (iknow, on #98, I ment comments.

    deepthought had this to say on Aug 31, 2006 Posts: 7
  • So i am the 101, thats nice, thx deepthought.

    Microsoft will die when, and just when, the manufacters (DELL,HP,ACER) ship their systems with other SO but windows, and that will only happend when costumers ask for it, when they strongly ask it.

    HARD, but the end will begin with virtualization (now on amd and intel) and when the pcs ship with at least 2 SO (windows and other,maybe some linux) when the people find other options and realize that the other work better (geeks, macs, linux and pc boys always think that all people know what an OS is, when truly more than 90% of the world does not know what is an OS, like more than 90% dont know and dont care what OS runs on their CELL phone) they will stop using windows, and the manufacters will put windows as an option (not obligation, like today), and less and less people will ask it, eventually no manufacters will sell it, and windows will become a minority (wont be erased from the world, but will become a minority just like linux today) all this will happend in a decade, maybe less.

    andreco had this to say on Sep 08, 2006 Posts: 3
  • Andreco, your first paragraph…they already do (

    As for your second paragraph,
    Some how i think you had to much sugar this morning.  I really don’t see that happening in the next 10 yrs.  What i do see happening is OSX and Linux gaining marketshare, but they will need to do some major changes to surpass Windows.  The biggest boost for OSX to gain market share, is to easily be installed on the majority of hardware, not just Apple hardware.  Not every has Mac hardware and not everyone needs Mac hardware.  I don’t see Apple getting driver support like Windows has.  Linux would have to support much more hardware, software, and become less text based.  Majority of people can’t intuitively use Linux.  Your prediction is more like fantasy.

    Slovenian6474 had this to say on Oct 10, 2006 Posts: 2
  • Just my quick 2 cents.

    The only time my XP computer crashes is when it is MY fault.

    Opening Half-Life 2, Word, and Firefox at the same time freezes the OS, but who’s to blame for that. Me.

    The truth is that XP performs well under most circumstances, and very rarely crashes under standard conditions, that is to say in an office where Word, Excel, Outlook and IE are used.

    simo66 had this to say on Nov 23, 2006 Posts: 78
  • A year later and this blog entry looks very naive at best. Actually it reads like just so much more empty Microsoft sniping. Is the next article about George W. Bush? lol

    Microsoft saved Apple’s hide. Never forget that. grin

    As for people like tao51nyc making comments such as, “But this wasn’t to bail out Apple - this was to settle the ongoing lawsuit, something about finding stolen MacOS code embedded in key areas of Windows, if I recall.” Well, note the lack of a single source and the total departure from reality as the rest of the free world understands it.

    There is a place in the world for Apple. Clearly. Just like there’s a place in the world for Fisher Price. Go Apple!

    skidoo had this to say on Dec 31, 2006 Posts: 2
  • Oh yeah.

    “Then at the August MacWorld Expo, Apple cofounder Steve Jobs stunned the masses by accepting a $150 million bailout from Microsoft. Apple executives claimed it was the only way to save the beleaguered company.”

    Via CNN:

    Yeah. So what is it y’all were saying?

    skidoo had this to say on Dec 31, 2006 Posts: 2
  • I just read this whole page from top to bottom in one sitting… I think all of you should try it too. I can’t see much right now.

    Just saying…

    metalmerlin had this to say on Jan 25, 2007 Posts: 2
  • How will Microsoft die?
    I’d say more with a wheeze than a bang. :D

    Neil Anderson had this to say on Jul 24, 2007 Posts: 23
  • Oh it’s been obvious that MS is somehow threatened about Apple’s generation. But all the more, these are 2 different entities and they have both different markets. So for MS there’s nothing to be afraid of.

    data centre relocation

    TheVivienne had this to say on May 30, 2011 Posts: 2
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