The Microsoft / Yahoo! rumors seem to still pop up every so often on the Intrawebz bringing up new discussion on where the software giant is going. The conquering of Google and the internet is its next objective, hence all the talk in the first place of acquiring Yahoo!.
Here is where I believe Microsoft is making a mistake. Microsoft’s core business is, well, business, not the internet. Yes the internet plays a part in what Microsoft should be doing, but it should not be the focus.
Right now Microsoft rules the desktop. Like or not, this is how it is. Between Windows and MS Office, business is conduted through software written by Microsoft. What would people do without MS Exhange? or Outlook? or dare I say Word (cringe).
Focus should be shifted to these two core applications. The Outlook – Exhange pair is essential to Microsoft, as it is essential to Business. Already they are near the top of their game. Love MS, hate MS, Outlook – Exchange make a good pair. Add in a Blackberry or Windows Mobile phone and you have an email / contacts / calendar solution that has everyone else running to catch up.
So push it. Farther. Make Exchange the most secure and stable email solution out there. Make outlook more flexible, more adaptable, more ready to meet whatever problems some IT group throws at it. Make us want MS on our back ends. Sounds naughty, eh?
Microsoft Office Lite. Or possibly a better name, but the idea is simple. You divide office into “Professional” and “Lite”. Professional is what it is now, everything in all its glory.
The “Lite” is a new beast. Here is what you do. Go dig out the Office 2000 code. For 70% of the home user, this has everything they will ever need. Patch it up so it runs on Vista, add in all the file formats of the new office (like docx) and sell it for $50.
You heard me right, $50. At that price people will buy it. And yes, I know you have works, but get rid of it. Give them Office at a reasonable price and you’ll sell it.
Make the “Professional” one have the new whistles and bells, make it have all the Exchange hotness, etc. You aren’t looking to cannibalize your business sales with this move. You are looking to cannibalize your piracy.
So then what?
Windows. Windows Vista didn’t do so hot out of the box. That is OK, it happens, really *cough OSX 10.0 cough*. But instead of being all Microsoft about it, you should instead, well, be Apple about it.
Here is my Windows proposal. (and yes, I am aware the next version is called Windows 7, but I think this is better). First, get rid of all the different versions of windows. There is one version, and that is Microsoft Windows V. Now V.0 is what we got with Vista (see? Vista, V) Now we go to V.1 (which is probably one of the current SP, I am an admitted Mac guy here), which is a free upgrade to Vista.
Now since we have reduced our foot print to a single version of Windows we are going to focus on it. The next version, V.2 will be a paid upgrade, but the difference is here we will blatantly rip off Apple’s pricing and release schedule. Instead of $ONE MILLION DOLLARZ for windows, it will be $150. No upgrade, no media server, no basic and advanced versions, just $150 for Windows V.2.
Then we get on a regular schedule. V.3 will be 12 – 18 months later, V.4, etc. Meanwhile we have a crack security team (you may need to hire these guys…) to start working on V.2.1. What is this? the .1 – .X releases are security patches. Fix it and fix it fast.
Are there other things, like online Office, and anything with Web 2.0 buzz words in it that should be done too? Maybe. Let’s look at one.
Hotmail. Seriously, what in the hell is going on with Hotmail? If I have a Hotmail account, I want it to work on my Outlook and my Windows Mobile phone just like an exchange server. Yes it is free. Yes it is Hotmail, but make it better. Use the leverage you have with your exchange – outlook synergy (OOH! big manager word!) to make people think about jumping from gmail to Hotmail. Think it can’t be done? Then you aren’t thinking hard enough.
And please just forget about search engines. Really. You are only wasting money by going into that market. Hell I could have built you from scratch a better product than what you have online for much much less than what you would have spent for Yahoo! (Here is my offer, if you respond to this post in 36 hours, I’ll give it to you for only 2 billion. How does that sound??)
The fact is that Microsoft, you don’t need to get into search engines. You NEED to make Windows. You NEED to make Microsoft Office. Focus! (and leave Yahoo! the hell alone)