Microsoft Realigns Divisions, Is This Real Change or Mere Shuffling the Chairs on the Deck of the Titanic?
Reuters Business Channel | Reuters.com So Microsoft is moving some of the top execs around to attempt to “enhance decision-making and speed of execution,” per Ballmer. Perhaps this is good. Or perhaps this is just moving deck chairs around on the Titanic.
I have long been critical of the speed with which Microsoft moves. Mocking themselves as dinosaurs in this year’s advertising campaign may indeed have contained a kernel of truth.
Personally I have lost a great deal of patience with Microsoft home media products over the course of the last year. Along with that loss of patience I’ve lost a lot of enthusiasm as well. You see much fewer posts from me on Media Center because, well, basically I’m coming more and more to the opinion that Media Center sucks.
Why does Media Center suck? Well first and foremost they have no HDTV solution. Yes I sound like a broken record here and blame whoever you want for it, but bottom line is they just can’t seem to get a deal done when they should have years ago. As households are rapidly adopting cable and satellite freebe offerings, the Media Center PC as a home entertainment device is losing luster.
And don’t quote me statistics about stronger sales of Media Center PCs than ever. These are just regular old PC sales masked as Media Center PCs. All you have to do is look at the number of units sold without a tuner to get the picture that MCE is being sold as a cheap add on to a regular PC and not as a gateway to the living room where the real long-term power lies.
Secondly, their music player, Windows Media Player sucks. It simply can’t handle my large digital library and although “testing” was supposedly going on to index the WMP database years ago, no solution appears imminent.
Third, Windows Explorer sucks. With a large digital library I simply cannot effectively copy files or back files up without having disc errors. Large batch copy jobs are super difficult as one little error aborts the whole job.
And what is being done about these things. Probably something, but as far as I’m concerned NOTHING. Because NOTHING is being communicated. Microsoft lives in this secret veiled society where they won’t share their development plans with even their biggest advocates.
I love digital photography. They added a patch this year that allows me to see RAW shots in thumbnail view. Nice. I appreciated this. But that’s it. That’s the extent of the innovation that I feel they’ve done this year for digital media. And they’ve done a bunch of crap with Online Spotlight, but frankly I hate most of that stuff anyways. It has huge potential but the content frankly is not there. Why do I want to go to Cinema Now and download crappy non high def movies? I don’t and thus I don’t.
The problem is rather than say yeah we can see the future and we’re working on it and here’s when you can expect it instead we get answers back like, well HDTV penetration is really not that significant at this time.
Throw in that Microsoft is caught between two masters, their Hollywood partners (for god only knows why these are the most hated people in the world) and empowering their end users, and things slow down even more. Message to Microsoft. Nothing would make Hollywood happier than if your entire digital media initiatives were ground to a sharp screeching halt.
So rather than be bitter I will welcome this change today and hope that decision-making and speed of execution indeed are improved. Because today the digital landscape sucks and the potential there is so huge. I’d also throw in though that communication needs to be improved as well. Tell me that I will get an effective mp3 player by X date. Rather than have Bill Gates go on Engadget and talk about CableCARD enabled Media Center PCs, tell me when I will see one in my living room.
Perhaps I’ll feel different this Fall/Winter when the XBox 360 and the Media Center update are out, but quite frankly I’m bracing myself for disappointment already.
You know what delights me? Flickr. Flickr delights me. This little company that didn’t even really exist two years ago that today has built the most amazing online library of photography on the internet. And why did they succeed? Because they were quick and fast and nimble and too bad for Microsoft that Yahoo! gobbled them up before Microsoft could. Bring photo sharing to the Media Center PC. Let me run my Flickr favorites across the great expansive 42″ plasma screen in my living room and you’ll delight me. Do something, do anything. Say something, say anything.
I am sad to see Jim Allchin on the way out. Although I know his attempt at talking to bloggers and those on the cutting edge was more PR than anything, at least he listened. Listen to your critics. They are some of your most enthusiastic potential supporters.