The Microsoft Universe Gets Wackier and Wackier

October 1st, 2009

When I used the term Psycho Talk in a recent article to describe the crazy claims made by Microsoft sycophants, I had a feeling that I severely understated the problem. The particular tech writer I criticized in that piece has since come out and struggled to explain why the iPhone is, first, not as popular as we’re led to believe, and, second, primarily a U.S. phenomenon. He evidently doesn’t realize that the iPhone is available in dozens of countries, and does quite well sales wise in many of them.

Such ignorance would be forgivable if it wasn’t repeated over and over again by the very same offenders. I mean you can expect Microsoft to want to spin the news their way, but even that’s becoming increasingly difficult. In a recently-published interview, for example, CEO Steve Ballmer waxed more incoherent than ever, and that’s saying an awful lot.

But rather than believe me about Ballmer’s irrational behavior, I suggest you read a three-part interview posted over at TechCrunch. It’s highly unfortunate that the publication didn’t really ask Ballmer the hard questions or follow up when he made a particularly foolish statement.

Take the claim that the market share of the Google Chrome and Safari browsers can be considered “rounding errors.” Now according to the September 2009 usage stats, Safari has 3.82% and Chrome 2.44%, and that’s no rounding error by anyone’s rule-book. Worse, Ballmer seems to believe that Internet Explorer’s current share is some 74%, which leads me to conclude that his math skills are seriously deficient. In fact, the most recent “median” survey gives Internet Explorer 64.66% of the browser market.

Now in all fairness, maybe Ballmer is only counting the stats at his company’s site, and ignoring everything else. But since he was never questioned about the source of his alleged data, we can only guess. I’ll go with the lack of usable math skills, since Microsoft has squandered so much money on failed projects, such as the Zune digital media player. They’ve also spent billions developing Internet Explorer, which remains a third-rate browser, with performance benchmarks way below just about everything else.

Even the new Bing search engine, after gaining a few points against Google early on, appears to be suffering from a case of buyer’s remorse. The latest StatCounter ratings show that Google is back above 80%, precisely where it was before Bing’s debut. In addition, Yahoo!, which is destined to incorporate Bing when that deal with Microsoft concludes, also lost share. I’ve long felt that any deal between these two companies would, at first, benefit Google, because of the time wasted searching for synergies, so enough resources won’t be devoted to actually improving their search engines and getting more users.

To add insult to injury, it’s by no means certain that this deal, which I label Ya-Bing!, will actually pass muster from the antitrust people in the U.S. and the European Union. Even if the U.S. authorities give the go-ahead, the EU has no love lost for Microsoft, and they’ll examine every nuance of the contracts with a fine tooth comb. Even if they alao approve the pact, they might also mandate some contract changes.

After all is said and done, the entire process will drag on until next year at the earliest. While both Microsoft and Yahoo! claim to be proceeding as if it’s a done deal, implementing Bing with, one expects, some Yahoo! technology, won’t be walk in the park. There are apt to be some trying periods until expected glitches are resolved.

While all this is going on, Google will just keep getting better and better, and don’t be surprised if they actually gain a larger piece of the pie as a result. Talk about laughing to the bank.

In the meantime, Ballmer will continue to fret over attacks from the “high end,” which is what he calls Apple, or attacks from the side, which is where he puts Chrome, Firefox and the other alternative browsers. Such rantings almost resemble the concept of thrust and parry in sword fighting. So maybe that’s it! Steve Ballmer things he is actually involved in a battle with dueling blades, not to preserve the market share of Microsoft’s products and services.

Now when it comes to the operating system wars, Microsoft has taken to referring to Windows 7 as “System 7,” perhaps in another lame attempt to remove the Windows connotation. This is, I suppose, another Microsoft attempt at innovation, but don’t they realize that the most familiar concept of a System 7 was an early version of the Mac OS, released back in 1991?

You have to wonder how Microsoft has deluded itself to believe that cribbing the name of an 18-year-old operating system that was rather buggy, I recall, is somehow going to ensure that Windows 7 will somehow prosper as a result. The very idea is absurd, but I’m even more concerned about the band of Redmond-following media pundits who are lining up behind Microsoft to present this Vista refresh as the second coming.

Yes, it’s a wacky world out there, and not just on extremist political talk shows. Microsoft is sure doing its best to confuse and befuddle the masses and I trust their efforts will be doomed to failure.

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12 Responses to “The Microsoft Universe Gets Wackier and Wackier”

  1. Blad_Rnr says:

    I read the TechCrunch interview. Never have I heard a CEO use so much business-speak and really say nothing in my life. If this is really how he operates as a CEO, then MSFT is doomed. Never mind the fact that he revealed his cards (though they were blank). All I read was nothing but blah-blah-blah the new normal blah-blah-blah value added blah-blah-blah. Where was the beef?

    Then there’s the Courier vaporware device that they don’t even have a mock-up of. It’s a video of something that doesn’t exist. I suppose it’s to halt the ramp up of rumors of the iTablet or whatever Apple will call it. Typical FUD.

    MSFT is in a death spiral. Ballmer is a poor excuse for a CEO who can’t think outside the box, and now they are on the defensive on every front. They can’t go on the offensive because their lines are being overwhelmed. If the Zune is a dud, Bing fails, WinMo gets eaten alive by the iPhone, Pre and Android phones and the Xbox continues to lose money, what else do they have except two dying cash cows, Office and Windows?

  2. MichaelT says:

    You’re right, Gene. The interview was softballs lobbed over the middle of the plate.

    But how about them admitting that they’re 18 years behind Apple’s OS?! Can’t wait for WinOS X. (That name’s not too similar to XP, is it?)

  3. DaveD says:

    I tried to read the interview in TechCrunch. But, I encountered early what Blad_Rnr stated as “blah-blah-blah” and I bailed. Don’t the shareholders of Microsoft see what and the kind of CEO they have? What is the future for Microsoft?

    All I can see is…

    Microsoft wants to be like Sony and Nintendo in gaming.
    Microsoft wants to be like Google in Web search.
    and of course,
    Microsoft wants to be like Apple in everything.

  4. SteveP says:

    “…which I label Ya-Bing!”

    I call it “Bing-oo”. 🙂
    I think it slides off the tongue a bit more ‘commercially’. (Maybe that’s NOT good!)

    “What concerns me the most is that some tech writers eat this stuff up and think he’s actually saying something. That’s truly pathetic.”

    True, but it seems to work for all sides. And not just ‘tech writers’, Political writers and many others seem to fit here.

    Not to go OT, but I tend to “lean” slightly left. But is not just “Fox” that’s scary. MSNBC is equally full of nut jobs that the left seems to idolize. (Olderman and Rachel Madcow) (Sorry!) And CNN as well. And looking at the blog posts on Huff-and-puff or in particular at the reader responses!!
    Or the responses on MANY tech blogs (NOT usually this one! 🙂 ) leads me to question the reading and thinking ability of ‘the masses’. And these people VOTE!

    Now THAT’s truly pathetic!

    Again, apologies for the rant. Yes, I could have just deleted it rather than inflicting it on the readers. I guess it’s just going to be that kind of day!

    “Peace” 🙂 , Steve

    • DaveD says:

      @SteveP, I agree with your general premise. But I’m old enough to see the ongoing change, the “dumbing down of America.” When I heard that too many Oklahoma students don’t know who was the first U.S. president, something is dreadfully wrong. In my eyes, the change began 30 years ago.

      Not sure if you’re dissing Rachael Maddow, but I have respect for her. If she has an opinion, it is based on facts. I was a news junkie back when CNN first started on cable and stopped watching it years ago. It was sad to see when the news operations had to be a profit maker. I don’t know what we have today, “quasi-news” or “infotainment.”

  5. lrd says:

    Unfortunately, Microsoft isn’t the only company in a death spiral. There are even whole states in death spirals, i.e., California, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

  6. Now I see their strategy. They don’t have one.

  7. dfs says:

    I’m beginning to think that knocking Balmer is like clubbing a baby seal.

  8. iHateThatCompany says:

    I have no guilt in saying that I hope that Ballmer destroys Microsoft.

    Because the money will move on to companies that CAN innovate and that are willing to compete.

    Ballmer can’t change. And he won’t.

    The best thing for any of their employees that have any redeeming human qualities would be for them to gain employment at any other tech company.

    MS is detrimental to the capitalist organism, in the same way that melanoma is detrimental to the human organism.

    Ironic given what Ballmer said of Linux.

  9. Austin Cook says:

    i would have to say that Google is slightly better than Bing search engine**:

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