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Microsoft: 5 smart and 5 dumb moves the company made in 2011

Julie Bort | Dec. 13, 2011
Love it or hate it, Microsoft is a company that brings out strong emotions in just about every IT professional. With 2011 about to end, it is time for our picks of some of smartest moves this powerful software company made this year - and some of the moves we'd say were not so bright.

3. Windows-colored glasses in the cloud. 

Be it Microsoft's cloud or its latest, greater browser, Microsoft remains abysmally slow in recognizing non-Windows platforms. Interestingly, Microsoft executives have actually been making campaign promises about cloud apps working on any device and on any operating system. For instance, in a recent Webcast, Microsoft's Brad Anderson, said, "Every service we build on the cloud can run on every device." He then pointed to Windows Intune as the example. Intune is Microsoft's managed software distribution and security monitoring service released in early 2011 and upgraded in November. Anderson said that Intune "enables users to work on any device" and that if Microsoft is going to be able to "deliver" on the cloud, it can't just be for Windows but "has to be any device and that's our strategy." But Windows Intune currently only supports Windows -- and only Windows PCs running XP, Vista and Windows 7, not even Windows Phone 7.

4. Sloth-like speed towards tablets. 

The world isn't waiting until Windows 8 to buy tablets. Despite touch support in Windows 7 and a 10-month old partnership with mobile hardware maker Nokia, Microsoft is still a near no-show in the tablet market. Forrester has even gone so far as to say that by the time Windows 8 arrives, Microsoft will have relinquished the market to others, including price/performance/feature expectations. Worse still, tablet sales have cannibalized netbooks and that hurt has already been reflected in Microsoft's financials, which have been otherwise stellar in 2011. 

5. Missteps with Office 365. 

Microsoft doesn't really want users to stop buying its highly profitable Office suite and move to the cloud, but with Google Apps adoption growing at alarming rates, it had to do something. In 2011, Microsoft released an upgraded version of its Business Productivity Online Standard Suite (BPOS) and dubbed it Office 365. However, Office 365 rolled out with less than a perfect set of features (beta testers had complained about limitations in importing contacts for shared global address lists, and the requirement to use the complicated PowerShell to perform tasks they felt should be simple).

Office 365 also had its share of outages and was sorely lacking in features compared to its on-premises Office suite. It also didn't match many of Google Apps' most popular features, such as simultaneous co-editing in word processing documents. Office 365 also requires local licensed copies of the apps for features such as co-editing. Microsoft is trumpeting the success of Office 365 adoption - and features like Lync are helping it win customers - but as long as the cloud version is treated like an unloved stepchild, Microsoft is leaving the door open for rival Google.


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