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Microsoft Loses the Computing Plot

Stocks in this article: MSFT AAPL GOOG

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Microsoft (MSFT) has lost the plot and needs an entirely new story.

Microsoft's old story was that it controlled the operating system, the base of the computing pyramid, and because it controlled this base, it would lead computing where it wanted it to go.

That's no longer true. Apple's (AAPL) iOS and Google's (GOOG) Android are both more powerful on clients. Linux is more powerful in the data center. The cloud makes Windows irrelevant.

Figures from NetMarketshare tell the story. Six months after its launch, Windows 8 has a desktop market share of 3%. Its progress is slower than Windows 7, and remember -- this is Windows' "touch" interface. Windows 7 is still all about the mouse.


Figures from Statcounter agree. The market share of all Windows versions is declining as fast as that of Windows 8 is rising, maybe faster.

A "fix" originally called Windows Blue, which ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley now says will be called Windows 8.1, is said to be in the works for summer release. But it's the second verse of a sad old song. It's a patch of asphalt on a road whose foundations are crumbling.

I have been amused by our Rocco Pendola's continuing efforts to fire Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. (Look, he does it again here and here, too.) The idea that a former radio DJ (or this aging journalist) knows more about business than a true business legend sounds ludicrous on its face.


And, yes, Ballmer is a legend. I met Ballmer several times "back in the day," as they say, and the Microsoft co-founder is a great sales guy, one of the very best. He understands the channel, he knows the importance of developers, and he deserves to be placed into business history right alongside Bill Gates. Ballmer was the offensive lineman without whom Gates' quarterbacking would have been meaningless.

To continue with the spring football analogies, Ballmer is still running the ball into the line when what's needed is the long pass. In client computing today, passing is all about the interface. Apple has managed to outmanuever Microsoft there, replacing the typewriter-TV-tape recorder paradigm with pure TV, a "touch" interface it defines, that others (including Microsoft) can only copy, weakly.

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