John Dvorak asks if the party is over for Microsoft. Listing a long set of activities that MS has embarked upon, everything from Online Publishing to Web Search. But he hits the nail on the head that Microsoft’s core is as a Software Developer building tools for masses, but more importantly for other developers. Apple has apparently learnt that lesson well, today iPhone is the dominant Smartphone player in the world on the back of their Apps Store.
Somewhere along the way Microsoft stopped building awesome developer tools and probably their turning point was when they dissed Java as a platform and that generated a huge backlash against them. As this 1998 article in CNET notes MS waged a holy war against Java and that made them look like bullies and against freedom of choice for developer tools. And what do developers hate the most? Being told that they cannot do or use something even if it makes no sense to use it.
As with all tragedies, the roots of the current downfall have less to do with lack of focus by Microsoft and everything to do with decisions taken a long time ago when they decided to go to war with their core audience the developers.
I think Microsoft realises that and hence are desperate to find something which will replace that core audience, whether it’s online advertisers or Gamers. Will that be possible? Stay tuned!