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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Microsoft Flops and Failures

Microsoft is one of the most successful companies ever - few people worldwide (likely not including third world...) complete a day of work without touching or using something that is somehow based on Microsoft technology - except maybe a handful of die-hard Apple groupies.

But along the way, as we all know and realize all too well, Microsoft has managed to fail miserably, again and again - and to fail in market spaces it should have understood better than anyone else on the planet...

Here are some "nostalgic" :-) examples of Microsoft flops and failures:

1) 1982-1990 - Windows 1.0, all versions up and leading to Windows 3.0 (for a brief history of the Windows O/S - click here)
2) 1995 - Microsoft Bob...According to Fast Company: "Childish, convoluted, ridiculous, despised." Yup. Part of an entire strategy called "Microsoft Home" that flopped badly at the time; IMHO it was also before its time, and before the hardware to support Redmond's vision existed - or was commercially viable...
3) 1997 - Clippy aka "Office Assistant" - probably the most ridiculed tech product in history.
4) 1998 - the infamous "Blue screen of death" - now, is that any way to treat a customer??
5) 2002 - Mira Smart Display - personally, had never even heard of this one...
6) 2003 - Windows Mobile - I was invited to and attended the Silicon Valley launch in San Jose. Looked exciting, the launch certainly was... But it was deathly, deathly slow... Quickly crushed by a slew of more advanced and better designed operating systems from RIM and Apple (and later also Android from Google). Killed in 2010.
7) 2006 - Zune. Brought out their own MP3 player only about eight years after the RIO MP300 (a device I had bought at Fry's, used for a couple of weeks and foolishly returned. With only about 60 minutes worth of music it wasn't practical - but I wouldn't mind owning it for history's sake...). For a history of MP3 devices check out Wikipedia - actually harks back to 1981!!
8) 2007 -Windows Vista....yikes....

Of course there was also Win95, Win NT...and if we dig deep we'll be sure to find a handful of additional flops.

Microsoft will soon be celebrating four decades of tech leadership, believe it or not.

Just goes to show you that to create a legacy of success - you have to try and try and try, and inevitably you will fail. Many times over, if you try hard enough. The important thing is to know to pick up the pieces, learn your lessons, and keep ploughing forward.

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