Microsoft needs a new strategy for its Windows platform

I have Vista installed on this laptop. I haven’t booted up Vista in weeks. Why? Because I installed Ubuntu on another partition and it is so much faster, and more secure (since Microsoft instructed me to remove Norton and then failed to get OneCare to work on this laptop).

Many others are eschewing Vista, not just because of the speed and stability issues it has but also because of the steep learning curve on moving from XP to Vista.

On the other hand Apple’s star seems to be in the ascendancy. In their financial statement released yesterday, for the quarter ended September 29th, they report:

Apple shipped 2,164,000 Macintosh® computers, representing 34 percent growth over the year-ago quarter and exceeding the previous quarterly record for Mac® shipments by 400,000. The Company sold 10,200,000 iPods during the quarter, representing 17 percent growth over the year-ago quarter. Quarterly iPhone™ sales were 1,119,000, bringing cumulative fiscal 2007 sales to 1,389,000.

“We are very pleased to have generated over $24 billion in revenue and $3.5 billion in net income in fiscal 2007,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We’re looking forward to a strong December quarter as we enter the holiday season with Apple’s best products ever.”

“Apple ended the fiscal year with $15.4 billion in cash and no debt,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO.

Why are Apple’s Mac sales doing so well and Vista so poorly?

At least part of the answer has to be in Apple’s strategy of releasing new versions every 12-18 months. Steve Jobs referred to this strategy in a piece in the New York Times yesterday when he said:

“I’m quite pleased with the pace of new operating systems every 12 to 18 months for the foreseeable future,” he said. “We’ve put out major releases on the average of one a year, and it’s given us the ability to polish and polish and improve and improve.”

Apple introduced OS X in 2001 and since then has brought out four newer versions (Puma, Jaguar, Panther, and Tiger) with a fifth version (Leopard – OS X 10.5) due to ship this coming Friday.

Ubuntu releases new versions on a pre-defined six monthly schedule.

Xp was also released in 2001 but the next version of Windows, Vista, didn’t ship until January 2007.

The gently, gently upgrade strategy appears to be working for Apple and Ubuntu as their uptake soars.

Microsoft needs a new strategy for its Windows platform. Its current strategy certainly isn’t working.

12 thoughts on “Microsoft needs a new strategy for its Windows platform”

  1. Pingback: Windows Vista News
  2. “You have asked to boot Ubuntu. Are you sure?”
    “Security Message: You are trying to boot an operating system. This may cause your computer to do something. Are you sure?”
    “Boot system message: You are now booting an operating system. Please confirm you want to do this.”

  3. I really like Apple’s iterative approach. Sure, there’s a lot of hype about Leopard right now, but not nearly as much as when Vista dropped. The pressure is off Apple to radically overhaul their OS with each new version (in fact, I think a radical overhaul would upset a lot of their customers; Mac OS works so beautifully well as it is) but Apple enthusiasts, marked for their appreciation of the subtle details that make their lives easier, still snap-up and happily pay for the updates with zeal. Microsoft should take note here and focus on the little things that matter, rationalize their Windows range (how many Vista flavours are there?) and just make a good OS. And then listen to your users and make it a little better next year. And then listen to your users and make it a little better next year. And then listen to your users…

    What happened to your Mac, Tom? Does Firefox do everything you expect of it in Ubuntu (and let you easily use Google apps and so on)? More and more it’s just a good browser we need and an OS that gets out of the way.

  4. Microsoft can’t really win with this one. Corporate customers demand long release cycles between OS versions, you’ll see countless Win2K images still floating around the place on corporate laptops, while consumers will pay time and again for incremental releases.

    Apple are consumer focused while Microsoft’s target customer are the IT departments in the Fortune 500.

  5. Apple enthusiasts, marked for their appreciation of the subtle details that make their lives easier

    And Microsoft’s tragedy (read strategy) is to require users to conform with their Idea of user interfaces and when they change their minds between XP and Vista they expect the user to change their mode of operation to accommodate their Vision (read Vista).

  6. Keith – LOL

    Eoghan – I still use the MacBook Pro for audio and video editing where it really shines but for most work (browser based) Ubuntu outperforms even the MBP. As you say, get the OS out of the way, work in the browser.

    Mark – If Microsoft rented their software and gradually, incrementally improved it (on every patch Tuesday, for example) corporates would love it. They hate short release cycles because of the training overhead and the upgrade disruption but if that was mitigated by very gradual changes over time, automatically updated, that would satisfy corporates.

    Branedy – agreed!

  7. The big problem is not the MS release schedule (which is required because Windows runs on everything) but the fact that Vista just isn’t an improvement on XP the way XP improved on Windows 1.0. We’ve waited a long time for a product that is in many ways worse than XP, with a bigger CPU and memory footprint and an arguably more complex and harder to understand interface.

    As for Ubuntu, I love linux but I’d still rather run Vista to Ubuntu and I’d prefer OS-X to both. I run OS-X at home but because our users at PutPlace use Windows I feel honour bound to “feel their pain” by running windows in work.

    I still can’t print from Vista. It blue screened on me last night and the WIFI networking is as flakey as the proverbial pastry.

    All opportunities for somebody….

  8. Steve, you know as well as I do that that 85m figure is bogus. The majority of that figure is people who got Vista pre-installed on their new computers. How many of those subsequently upgraded to XP?

    What would be more interesting to know is how many people went and bought boxed copies of Vista.

  9. There are so many things you can do on Vista that you can’t on XP. I just don’t think many people out there are aware of all the new features that work great. The operating system is a bit of a hog and yes I do have problems here and there but overall I like Vista. At the same time I am running Vista on my Mac so maybe that has somehting to do with why I like it 🙂

  10. My notebook come pre-install with Vista. I’m suprise that with high specification, Vista is running so slow.

    I think Microsoft have this kind of mentality that they think because the company is rich, so everybody are also rich to purchase all that high requirement that Vista need. Oh… Please!!

    I just uninstall it and install XP + Ubuntu on my notebook. I don’t care much about the look of the OS as long as I can finish all my works that had been delayed for quite a while.

  11. My guess?
    From Newton in 1990’s to a Mac today? Apple started listening to problems users had and developed products and services that not only solved them, but had an overall experience in the solution.
    Great blog!

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