Microsoft After Bill Gates

Bye XP – Hello Office Subscription
by: Jerry Liao

A lot has been said about the decision of Bill Gates to step down as Microsoft chairman ending his day-to-day involvement with the company. To be honest, I don’t want to join the discussion anymore. For one, I don’t believe he’s retired or semi-retired – Gates is simply out of the limelight.

Gates said that he will work part-time at Microsoft as chairman and technical adviser and will work full time for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the organization he founded with his wife, which focuses on global health and education. Let me just say that I commend what Bill and Melinda is doing to improve global health and education through their foundation.

Now, with regards to Bill working part-time, that he will not be reporting to Microsoft everyday – all I can is – with technology nowadays, he doesn’t have to be there everyday. He can always work remotely, and nobody will know about it. No pun intended.

The reason why I am writing this article is because of two things – the decision of Microsoft to discontinue selling Windows XP, and the recent announcement that Microsoft Office and other security offerings will be offered via a subsciption basis.

Microsoft Corp. unveiled Microsoft Equipt, an all-in-one security and productivity software subscription service for consumers. Microsoft Equipt offers consumers Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, giving them the latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote for their personal and school projects; Windows Live OneCare, the all-in-one security and PC management service; Windows Live tools, such as Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Photo Gallery so they can connect and share with people they care about most; and Office Live Workspace, a new service from Microsoft that makes it easy to save documents to a dedicated online Workspace and share them with friends and classmates.

Microsoft Equipt is US$69.99 (around 3,000+ @45/dollar) estimated retail price for a one-year renewable subscription. Each subscription will be good for three home PCs

My question is simple, aside from Word, Excel, Powerpoint, what other applications that are part of the offering are you using or have you used? It’s like packaging the slow-moving or non-moving items to the fast-moving item. It would have been more attractive if SQL Server and Exchange are included as part of the package. One can also think that the move of Microsoft to subscription base means only one thing – nobody’s buying anymore. Most of the offering are already free and are available on the web. Other companies are providing their software for free and the revenue are coming from support and consultancy.

Let’s now move to Microsoft’s decision not to sell the Windows XP operating system to computer makers and retailers. Microsoft added that it will still allow some PC manufacturers to purchase XP for re-sale until January 2009. A version of XP will be made available for ultra-low-cost PCs like the Asus Eee PC.

Obviously, the move is to push Vista to the market – its like saying “whether you like it or not, Swallow the Pill”. What I find funny about the move is this – No more XP EXCEPT to the ultra-low-cost PCs. Why is this so? Because the low-cost PCs are selling like hotcakes. Microsoft has no choice but to offer XP or these manufacturers will opt for Linux – which is tantamount to losing market share. Decision that are designed to grow Microsoft’s OS business.

My question now here is – where is customer consideration here? What should come first? Users interest or business interest? Vista critics launched an online petition urging Microsoft to reconsider the decision. Some 210,000 digital signatures were generated as of date.

Two mind-boggling decisions after Gates retired. Yes, Gates has semi-retired himself from a company he led for 33 years. Microsoft team may not see Gates everyday, but the culture is still Gates culture. The end of XP and the move to subscription base brings us to the 90s or even 80s, a time where the Internet is still starting.

Microsoft should realize that with everything on the web nowadays – the operating system is not as important as the PC days. All I need is for my PC to boot and be able to connect to the web – and that’s it. Most of what we need now are already available on the web. We are now in the Web 2.0 stage and will soon be welcoming Web 3.0.

Microsoft will always be Bill Gates, and Gates will always be Microsoft. You cannot separate the two. Will it change? The answer is YES. How and who will force them to change? We the users will dictate what we need, and what we want – and Microsoft will have no choice but to follow our wishes. That’s what I call user empowement.

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