Microsoft's 5 Greatest Successes and Failures

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MaximumMike

How about Microsoft Project and Visual Studio? Those are some Microsoft's most stable and long running successes.

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Archavious

Microsoft does way more than consumer OS products

What about the following as a list of successes?

SQL Server
Sharepoint
Dynamics
Exchange
Azure
SCCM
Traning and Certification programs
MSNBC
IE (90% market share at one point would be a success)
XBOX and its Live platform
Standardizing the Win-tel platform
Skype
Development Tools
Encarta (Was awesome until Wikipedia came along)
C# and .NET

And some additional failures:

BOB
XP (How is this still around?)
IE (Fall from grace)
Bing/Search (Google dominates)
Hyper-V (VMware dominates this space)
Windows Phone (Apple and Google dominate)

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Arnulf

Where is MS-DOS ?

The four M$ successes I can think of are

- MS-DOS (3.3 and 5.0 in particular)
- Windows 2000/XP
- M$ Office ('97)
- Flight Simulator (you 2000-and-up-era kids didn't see this one coming, did you ?)

The rest is just chaff built on top of one of these.

Now as for failures, where's M$ Bob ?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Bob

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wumpus

You are a 1990-and-up (maybe even mid 80s) kid aren't you? You left out MS-BASIC. They practically built the company on it and it is the reason IBM was talking to them when they needed an OS...

I'd put Exchange in there as well. It certainly isn't the cash cow that the rest of the list is, but it may well be what keeps PHBs from tossing their windows desktop and moving everybody (who's job isn't *directly* tied to the desktop) over to android tablets (or even android "desktops").

Bob was a failure similar to Kin. While it was certainly mocked, I don't think anybody actually saw it live. Clippy was what rubbed the fail that is microsoft in users faces everywhere.

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Julian Reiche

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ciesbread

Regardless of the shortcomings found in Windows, I think this operating system is still better than any other operating system. This is just my personal opinion.

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Ghost XFX

Windows ME and Vista?!

OMG!!! ME was a total nightmare! I spent 1/3 of the time debugging and getting rid of files to make it work properly! Thank god for XP!

Vista, I never had a big problem with it other than it hogs up resources... If it didn't hog up resources it would have been a decent OS.

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Xenite

Windows 8 should really be on the list of flops... it's sitting at a pathetic 5% usage rate among OS's, only a tiny bit better than Vista. And I doubt it's going to improve much since it's adoption rate has stagnated.

People aren't clamoring for it, infact they are still looking to buy up Win 7 licenses which are still readily avaliable.

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Renegade Knight

It's better than 7 and has none of the kinds of issues Vista had. 8 is case of the hate being hyped more than the OS.

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TommM

Clippit, anyone?

The single most annoying Office "feature" ever implemented.

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Fenthic

Lol. I remember that little thing. It was almost as annoying as that stupid purple monkey people would install.

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The Mac

The purple ape was Bonzi Buddy.

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vrmlbasic

I remember when Clippy would appear in Office 97-2000 on Win2K machines and crash Office completely. Good times.

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John Pombrio

Windows for Workgroups 3.11 (contained on 4-5 floppies) was really the foundation for Microsoft, its first true hit with Windows. It sank IBM/MS OS/2 and was hugely popular. I found networking two computers together was actually a simple matter (not like another poster said). It supported color screens, windows multitasking, Internet Explorer 2.0, and 32 bit computing. It was the beginning of MS's dominance over the IBM PC operating systems and the death of several other OS vendors.
The authors were not around then so I could see how they missed this, heh.

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DCantu1970

Thanks for making me feel old LOL.

Remember Netscape?

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Hqwallpaperz

I'm disappoint in Windows 8, the menu look good. but the explorer still the same with Windows 7. I guess there is no special about Windows 8.

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John Pombrio

Get rid of the Start screen and Win8 is a most worthy upgrade to Win7. I would never go back to Win7. Start8 removes the Start screen eyesore completely from my view so I have zero issues with Win8.

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Granite

LOL!!

Can you imagine the uproar from the Winh8ers if MS changed the explorer??

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Shaharil Ahmad

It's a success company with ups and downs like any other. Business is business.

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fung0

Two of Microsoft's biggest successes are missing from the list.

1. DirectX. PC gaming was a nightmare of incompatibilities and weird configuration issues, but Microsoft managed to fix all of it, and give game software very 'direct' access to the hardware at the same time. DirectX enabled a world of open-architecture, 3D-accelerated gaming. It was a towering achievement, even if it was largely invisible to the average consumer.

2. Windows CE. Microsoft launched hand-held and tablet devices with this compact, powerful OS. Windows CE had full multitasking, a true file system, and a thriving software ecosystem. It worked. I still have an old iPAQ I use sometimes... The UI needed some add-ons to make it more Windows-like, but it was slick and convenient. The handwriting recognition was great, too... vastly more convenient than today's on-screen keyboards, even on the feeble processors of that time.

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wumpus

1. DirectX. It was (and remains) a godawful kludge. The reason they made it was that they were terrified that somebody else (presumably taking something like DOS/4W and including drivers) would control the gaming world and compete as a platform. As typical in those days, once MS did something, no matter how bad, it shut the doors on everybody else. Note that OpenGL was still being used in things like Quake for quite some time afterwards.

2. WinCE - released 16 years ago.
Android - released 5 years ago. Actually MS's ability on the desktop to delay the Linux onslaught (compare to embedded, mobile, supercomputers, etc) is the amazing thing. WinCE didn't stand a chance.

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someuid

Decent article Chris, but there's a lot more to it that just consumer grade products.

One of Microsoft's greatest achievements has been documentation. I spent a year working closely with some developers who wrote code for both Novell Netware and Windows 2000 servers. The single biggest pro they mentioned for Microsoft was the plethora of documentation and tools Microsoft provided when writing and debugging software for their platform.

They bitterly complained about writing code for Novell Netware platforms. They had little documentation and often had to resort to reading assembly language dumps to figure out why an NLM failed. The company paid Novell some $250,000 a year to keep a part time Novell employee on-staff just to relay questions to Novell engineers about why NLMs failed and to get detailed info how certain Novell services worked. They did not have to do this with Microsoft.

There is also a certain level of simplicity when it comes to managing a Microsoft network. The required training to obtain the basic level certifications for Microsoft software pales in comparison to that required for Linux, Unix and Netware platforms. This has allowed Microsoft the chance to flood the market with a lot of Microsoft-qualified technicians. The truth is, after a few weeks on the job, most of the basic level certified technicians know very little about how Microsoft's products work and have to turn to paid support to solve simple problems. Those basic certifications train a person how to user the simple GUI-based tools to manage a Microsoft-based network. Ask any IT shop and the real power lies within the registry, GPOs and scripting. Of course, Microsoft doesn't mention this, and the business managers don't know any better, so Microsoft products are shoe-horned in the back office, business managers are told more extensively trained support staff are needed, and those business managers suck it up and hire those people, saving zero money in the process. They have no choice. Hire them or risk having the business IT system fails.

I don't mean to belittle those techs with Microsoft certificates. They are good folks advancing in their careers and are capable IT support techs.

But Microsoft has engineered the industry to make sure there are a lot of techs with minimal training to ensure their software gets purchased and implemented, then drop the expensive support contracts and on-site Microsoft consultants on unsuspecting businesses. That kind of 'sabotage' is Microsoft's greatest failing, and it explains why other operating systems like Linux fail to die off despite their lackluster performance in the consumer space.

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chriszele

Thanks for providing feedback on the article we appreciate your input. We'll try to put more enterprise products into future roundups/lists.

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The Mac

Honestly, this is an enthusiast site.

i could give a rats ass about enterprise products.

there are other sites for that.

i would immediately skip all enterprise artices.

Most of us here are probably IT people anyway, we arent looking for that here.

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chriszele

Thanks for the feedback.

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MaximumMike

Some of us would actually read articles about enterprise products, provided that they weren't full of managementeese.

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The Mac

That would be an acceptable compromise.

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jbcava

I've used all iterations of windows since 3.1 and prior to that DOS 3.0 and higher. What ride to say the least.
I remember using Windows 3.1 and 3.11 for workgroups - setting up a 10 base T network was a nightmare! Working on MS Word 5.1 or word perfect, then getting all giddy when i figured out how to map some of my dos games to a folder on the main windows screen. STUNTS was Fun along with Test Drive and Wolfenstein 3d. Using a BBS was never more exciting on a 24 baud modem! Win 95 was exciting - a completely new windows concept and from there dialing into America Online became second nature as i finally got my 28.8 baud modem. Then I upgraded to windows 98SE which hosted my next modem upgrade to 56k, i basically used windows 98 from 98 - 2001 before i officially made the move to windows xp. Going from Fat32 to NTFS was the best thing ever.
I used Win ME for all of 2 hours before I reformatted and went back to Win 98. Win ME looked pretty (at the time) but was one ugly duckling once you got to see her in action. XP was definitely a triumph OS for Microsoft, and I used it for a good 5-6 years. I used Vista through its short beta and bought the retail copy as well.. I frankly liked it, despite its issues. Once MS fixed its kernel with SP1, and made it stable I thought it was a fine OS. Vista had it bad on 2 fronts.. None of the drivers were properly tested by manufactures so there wasn't any maturing for them, and MS didn't beta test a completely new concept long enough to fix any serious kernel issues before it went mainstream. Hence why Windows 7 was conceived. At the end of the day Windows 7 is what Vista should have been - its a matured Vista with some minor improvements. Once Win 7 came out i obviously switched as it is clearly the best/better choice all around and use it still today. Windows 8 is not the second coming to Windows Vista, but, that doesn't negate the fact that the start screen (Metro) just flat out sucks! At least Win 8 is stable and has perks that previous OS's don't offer.. For instance - dramatic improvements to boot times. I use it on 1 system with Start8 and barely if ever see Metro. I don't love it but it works fine for me and at this point am not going to waste time migrating my one machine back to windows 7. I think MS would have done better by creating an addon pack for Windows 7 rather than building a new OS and making a great concept in theory look like shit. Metro with time and maturity might end up being the next great OS upgrade BUT, it needs a lot of time!
Now i just mess around with the old OS's under VM.

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jasphoto

XBox - 360 & I bet (now that they caved on resales) One.

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edwartr

I agree with the others who say the Zune was great. It is, I still have mine and still use it as does the GF who would kill you if you tried to take hers. We got ours, the Gen1 30GB back in 2007 and they still work great, no issues. I have 2 buddies who also have Zunes (the 8 & 16 GB versions) and still use theirs. Microsoft had a great product and good software but just didn't support it and they were really so far behind Apple that they couldn't catch up. However, pretty much everyone with an iPod that I showed the Zune to agreed that it was actually better. Not really true as much now but back in the beginning, it was actually true.

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pastorbob

Windows ME got a bad rap. I installed it on several systems (clean install, not upgrade) and I never had any problems with it. Matter of fact it was 2005 before I made the transistion to Windows XP on any of my systems.

Most folks went the upgrade route and wound up having all kinds of problems.

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Cy-Kill

I bought the full version, did a clean install, and nothing but problems!

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pastorbob

Guess I was just lucky.

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Saborey

I was a fan of Zune until I lost my music. Tech support told me well if you lose a CD you wouldn't expect a store to give you another one. That is why I will stick with Amazon or even iTunes of all places...

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PCWolf

Proving that DRM is the Industries way to rob the Consumer. & that you don't own what you purchase, you are just Renting it.

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Bullwinkle J Moose

Why diddn't you list all the non purchased copies of Windows XP still on the Internet

XP still has over 80 market share if you count the alledgedly illegal copies

Windows 7 can never match those numbers can they?

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pastorbob

Hard to quantify pirated copies. But I seriously doubt it adds up to 80% no matter how you crunch the numbers.

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Bullwinkle J Moose

No really, 80%

see I can do scientific polls too ya know

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kixofmyg0t

I really expected to see Windows 8 on the failures list considering all the hate it gets here.

I've been using it for months, I don't see a problem with it. I spend most of my time on the desktop though. Oops I shouldn't have said that. Most of the people here don't know Windows 8 still has a desktop.

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pastorbob

+1 -> kixofmyg0t

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warptek2010

I was waiting for Microsoft BOB to show up but it never did. What gives?

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Craig-g

Was BOB ever actually released to the mainstream? I always thought it was only ever released in very limited channels and quickly withdrawn. But in the last month I've seen two articles that mention it being included with windows 95.

All I know is I've never seen it running live.

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warptek2010

It had an interesting value for all of 15-20 minutes. It was basically an interface made up of a cartoonish looking office created as an overlay to the OS. The file cabinet was where you found your files and various programs and functions scattered around.... that's about all I remember of it actually. Do a Google Image search of "Microsoft BOB" and you'll have hundreds of pics to choose from.

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Craig-g

Very late replying.

Yes I know about BOB's history. My question was was did it actually get a wide mainstream release. I've read plenty of articles about it over the years, mainly talking about how bad it was, but never seen it running myself. Plenty of videos and pictures. I'd always assumed it was a very limited release in small markets.

But in the last month I've read a few articles that mention that BOB was included on the windows 95 CD.

Which was a surprise to me as I've never seen it on any 95 CDs I've encountered. When Win 95 was released I was a sys admin at a university and had access to 95 as an OEM disk from microsoft. We also used to get OEM disks bundled in with the bare machines we got, (you couldn't say no to the windows tax at the time), and it wasn't on those either.

I was curious if BOB actually was included on all retail disks for 95.

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Bullwinkle J Moose

I have a cartoonish looking overlay full of crap I don't use and doesn't work

It's called Windows 8 Start Screen Wallpaper

It makes my highly functional XP machine look useless and broken

but it's really not

It's just wallpaper

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TheMissingPiece

RIP Zune. Great piece of hardware, even better software (the Zune Program), but no support. :(

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Engelsstaub

I agree on the hardware but IMO the software was crap. I had a 80 Gb (HDD-based) Zune and it was awesome. Later I got a 32 Gb Zune HD and it was really nice too. Didn't have the apps that you could get for an iPod Touch but it still did its job well as a portable media player.

I understand why some people (especially Windows-users) dislike iTunes; it is very bloated. But I thought the Zune software was equally so and almost twice as unintuitive to navigate through.

...solid hardware though. Should have been supported properly. Some flaming-assed fanboys and trolls on the 'net were always calling it "The iPod-Killer!!" but reasonable people knew it would never overtake the iPod in marketshare. It didn't have to. Zune could have been profitable at a fraction of the iPod's marketshare if it would have been supported properly. Especially outside the States; a market that MS didn't even bother with.

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RUSENSITIVESWEETNESS

Not just bloated; it's highly intrusive.

It needs to scan my hard drives for media, build a library, and report what I have to Apple?

It needs to create a duplicate database of music already on my hard drive that it may "sync" the database with my iPod? Why can't I just drag & drop and be done with it? I don't need gigabytes of duplicate data wasting space on my hard drives.

I think it comes down to the fact that iTunes is spyware masquerading as DRM pretending to be a music service.

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Engelsstaub

iTunes isn't perfect but I don't view it the way you do.

I'm not at all certain why you feel you "have" to have duplicate libraries...I have one. And it's in a folder-structure that's as accessible as any other. I suppose if you must have true drag & drop then I see your point. Zune did recognize folders dropped into the structure whereas with iTunes one must let the app put it in the library for you. Different strokes... What I don't buy is the spyware-thing...like Apple "needs" to know what music you're listening to and that that's some really important info to protect. DRM? If anything I've heard iTunes recently criticized by conspiracy-theorists and haters as a "pirated music laundering service." For $25 USD per year via iTunes Match one can basically trade in nearly all of their ill-gotten MP3s, of various qualities and unknown encoding origin, for legitimate industry-standard AAC files at 256 Kbps VBR from the iTunes Store. Same music many people pay for.

They are not "pretending to be a music service." iTunes is the number one online retailer of music in the entire world. I think they pretty much have a lock on (legal) music distribution. iTunes has like 64% of the marketshare for digital distribution while, the distant-second, Amazon maintains a little over 20%. Google Play is a blip on the radar, yet it and Amazon keep jacking features introduced by iTunes like "Autorip" for Amazon. They don't seem like they are trying very hard to distinguish their business models from that of Apple's.

As a music service Zune was a mess of MP3s with no standard encoding (...there are good MP3 encoders and bad ones.) and shitty low bitrate WMA files replete with DRM long after Apple got rid of theirs. As a music service Apple has standards and specifications for lossy encoding and provides content providers with the tools necessary to encode them to those standards. If I'm paying for lossy-encoded music I'd rather know what I'm getting. ...Zune did have a few interesting features like the Zune Pass.

Just my thoughts. Not meant to be some "rebuttal" or combative or anything. I respect your opinion even if I don't entirely agree.

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PCWolf

Also: RIP every Zune Song you ever purchased.