Why Is Microsoft Still a Big Tech Superstar?


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For a decade or so, Microsoft has busted so many key tech trends that the company has become a punchline. But Microsoft has more than survived its epic mistakes. Today, he is (again) one of the superstars of the tech world.

Microsoft’s ability to succeed despite getting nearly everything wrong can be a heartening saga about corporate reinvention. Or it could be a sad indication of how hard it is to kill monopolies. Or maybe a little of both.

Understanding Microsoft’s enduring power is important given an important current question: Are today’s Big Tech superstars successful and popular because they’re the best at what they do, or because they’re strong enough to stand out from past successes?

Ultimately, the concern about Big Tech in 2021 – antitrust lawsuits, proposed new laws and outcries – is turning into a debate about whether the dynamism that drives progress is the hallmark of our digital lives, or whether we really have dynasties. And what I’m asking is, which Microsoft?

Let’s go back to Microsoft’s dark days from the mid-2000s to 2014. Oddly enough, they weren’t that bad. Yes, Microsoft wasn’t so cool that the company Roasted in Apple TV commercials and many people in the tech industry wanted nothing to do with it. The company failed to make it a popular search engine, vainly tried to compete with Google in digital advertising, and had little success in selling its own advertising. smartphone operating systems or devices.

Still, even in the saddest years at Microsoft, the company made tons of money. In 2013, the year Steve Ballmer was half struggling retire as general manager, the company made much more profit before taxes and some other costs — more than $27 billion — than Amazon did in 2020.

No matter how stinky Microsoft’s software was—and many did—many businesses still needed to buy Windows computers, Microsoft’s technology to run email and document software, and powerful back-end computers called servers. Microsoft leveraged these much-needed products to dive into new and profitable lines of business, including software that replaces traditional enterprise phone systems, databases, and file storage systems.

Microsoft wasn’t always good in those years, but it did pretty well. And more recently, Microsoft has gone from walking on water to being both financially successful and all about the latest technologies. So was this comeback a healthy sign or was it discouraging?

On the healthy side of the notebook, Microsoft did at least one big thing right: cloud computingOne of the most important technologies of the last 15 years, . That, and a culture shift, were the foundations that transformed Microsoft from winning despite its strategy and products to winning thanks to them. This is the kind of corporate comeback we should want.

I will also say that Microsoft differs from its Big Tech counterparts in a way that makes it more flexible. Businesses, not individuals, are Microsoft’s customers and technology sold to organizations It doesn’t necessarily have to be good to win.

And now the discouraging clarification: What if the lesson from Microsoft is that a fading star can pull off its size, savvy marketing, and customers to stay successful, even if it produces meh products, loses its grip on new technologies, and is plagued by loose bureaucracy? ? Was Microsoft big and strong enough to be invincible, or at least tall enough to make its next move? And is today’s Facebook or Google comparable to a Microsoft in 2013 – solid enough that they can improve, if not the best?

I don’t have definitive answers, and size and power does not guarantee that a company can withstand many mistakes and remain relevant. But much of the tech drama and fights in 2021 depend on these questions. Maybe Google search, Amazon shopping, and Facebook’s ads are unbelievably great. Or maybe we can’t imagine better alternatives because strong companies don’t have to be great to keep winning.

  • Miniature online chaos campaigns: My colleague Sheera Frenkel has a crazy story about Iranian agents disguised as Israelis. for sending divisive messages in small online groups In messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram. Targeting small groups allowed agents to cause trouble in trusting communities and was a way to avoid detection by tech companies tracking massive online disinformation.

  • Video games without fancy computers: Kellen Browning examines efforts by companies like Google and Microsoft to shift video games from being played on specialized hardware. be remotely accessible via the web. The technology isn’t quite there yet, but cloud gaming can and will allow people to play any game on any device. the beginning of the end for apps.

  • Tweeting for good: An automated account in Indonesia turns people’s tweets into maps showing locations and real-time information about floods, earthquakes and other hazards, Rest of the World reports. PetaBencana is also working with Indonesian authorities to help them respond to disasters faster.

You want to see These images of koalas photographed in the middle of the splash. They are elegant little fluff balls.


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