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Why Microsoft Shouldn't Worry About Cannibalizing Their Userbases 180

New submitter coyote_oww writes "A ComputerWorld analysis article suggests that Microsoft should stop worrying about one product cutting into another product's sales, and concentrate on putting their best foot foward regardless of the impact on product lines. The big impact would be the price of Windows: '... Microsoft must, at least in the main, sell devices based on lower prices. And the only significant component of a Windows-powered device that can be cut further — hardware margins are at or very near the bone, and have been for years — is the Windows license.' It's still possible they could sell Windows versions at different rates for different devices, but that could get hard to justify to consumers over the long haul."
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Why Microsoft Shouldn't Worry About Cannibalizing Their Userbases

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @04:51PM (#44311777)
    Release windows for free, and we will finally see how it competes.
  • by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @04:51PM (#44311781)

    You know what I want? A lower-cost Windows targeted at gamers. I don't need drivers for scanners, printers, fax and other unnecessary crap if all I do is play games on it.

    A Windows with less processes running would also mean a faster computer able to dedicate more resources to the games instead of crap I don't need.

  • by Your.Master ( 1088569 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @04:54PM (#44311825)

    That's basically what an xbox is.

    I guess the implication is that you want something that compromises between Windows PCs and XBox on some points. Which raises the question of what is the right compromise position?

  • synergy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @04:55PM (#44311839)

    from the article: "As part of the reorganization, Microsoft will consolidate all of its client OSes, including Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows Phone 8, Windows Embedded and Xbox, into a single engineering group [...] The Windows desktop client and mobile have a lot of common functionality, and a combined group could have a lot of synergy".
    I fully agree, that's a good strategy (and it was about time)... oh, and one o the few times the word "synergy" makes sense!

  • by macromorgan ( 2020426 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @05:11PM (#44311971)
    The important thing to remember is in a competitive economy, someone is going to disrupt your business. It might as well be you. Fighting against it only postpones the inevitable.
  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @05:14PM (#44311999) Homepage Journal

    Windows is a product. When you buy it pre-installed on a machine, prices are already cut to the bone with volume discounts to the manufacturer. Someone has to pay for the security updates, the patches, and so on when it's run by a monolithic corporation instead of an open source community.

    I've no beef with the price I paid for my Win7 laptop -- and I know that maybe $50-100 of that purchase price was for the Windows license. Perfectly reasonable.

    I use Ubuntu LTS on my "main" machine, but that's because I like Linux, not because Windows is "too expensive."

    Furthermore, precisely what product line would be cannibalized by cutting Windows prices further? WinPhone (which no one wants and is a different code base)? WinRT (which no one wants because it's a piece of incompatible crap)? XBox (which doesn't even have an installable OS)?

    This article is essentially flamebait to spark discussion, and nothing more. There is nothing pragmatic or realistic about it.

  • Easy for us to say (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paiute ( 550198 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @05:24PM (#44312087)
    Cannibalize your own product line before the competition does is an obvious necessity, yet it is the hardest thing for managers to actually do.
  • by realmolo ( 574068 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @05:31PM (#44312163)

    You don't know what you are talking about.

    When a game runs on Windows, it ALREADY gets all the resources it wants.

    A stripped-down version fo Windows wouldn't make your games run faster. Modern games are mostly video-card limited. And since there is no standard hardware platform for a PC, programmers can only do so much optimization before they break compatibility.

  • by crutchy ( 1949900 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @05:52PM (#44312357)

    no need to apologize. the op was more thought-provoking than many other comments on /.

    i've read plenty about microsoft's anti-competitive business practices, with linux advocates claiming that windows would be wiped out if linux and windows were on the same level of competition, and mostly i agree with those sentiments, but it is also interesting to tip that on its head and imagine how well linux would compete if it had to compete with a free and open source version of windows. i know its just an armchair exercise because it will never happen, but if linux wasn't licensed under the GPL and was sold at a similar price as windows, would it have any hope at all?

    having used linux i personally think it is probably preferable to windows for servers, and many companies do pay for enterprise linux servers. if linux had an equal footing in applications from vendors like adobe and autodesk i think it might do ok on the desktop, but i don't think it would be a clear winner because desktop windows and linux (as operating systems, notwithstanding availability of applications) their user experiences really aren't that different nowadays. linux has security benefits in filesystem permissions that are actually used, but its sometimes at the expense of ease of use that windows has, although this video kind of pokes a few holes in that with respect to vista []

  • by the_B0fh ( 208483 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @05:55PM (#44312399) Homepage

    So funny that Mac and iOS users are so much happier with their systems (even in Korea, where iPhone and iPad took first place in customer satisfaction away from Samsung), but the haters who don't use it, my god, it's like a jealous ex-lover. They cannot stop telling you how much your current lover sucks, even though you're happy with it.

    Get over it. Be happy with your choice, and move on, rather than keeping on and harping and bitching about other people's choices.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @05:56PM (#44312411) Journal
    The article talks as though Microsoft is a monolithic entity that will like a single intent. Like any large organization there it is a conglomeration of parts and they mostly act in their self interest than the interest of the whole organization. Most of the time there is a large overlap between the self interest and interest of the larger body. But Microsoft has some perverse incentives like giving part of the revenue stream from a product line as compensation to the top managers of that line. Sounds great in theory as a motivation factor but it can backfire too. These people in top management well versed in the palace intrigues have to let some other part cannibalize their revenue stream for the interest of the organization as a whole. The track record is they won't. Only when the "partner level" managers' bonuses (or is it bonii?) are tied to the over all performance of the company, not the individual parts under their control, they will let internal cannibalization. But letting their bonii depend on large parts of the company they have no control over is a tough sell too. It is a problem that developed over a long time. It won't be solved in short time.
  • by walshy007 ( 906710 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @06:43PM (#44312829)

    This may surprise you, but linux has had better hardware compatibility out of the box than windows for quite some time.

    I don't expect linux to support windows games, just like I don't expect modern windows to support dos games. It's legacy.

  • by KingMotley ( 944240 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @07:09PM (#44313035) Journal

    This may suprise you, but that is only true if you want to support old hardware. Anything cutting edge is more likely supported by windows than Linux, and since I have more cutting edge hardware than old relics, it isn't true for me.

  • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @07:27PM (#44313155)

    WGA stopped the wholesale OEM piracy from the organized crime shops. They were even producing holograms, shiny boxes, "certificates of authenticity" etc. Palates of this counterfeit software would be shipped through quasi-legit channels into serious software retailers for realistic prices.

    Casual piracy of Windows doesn't affect MS. Your PC probably shipped with the OS anyway. The high volume of XP licenses out there are businesses who were hoping for something better than Win7 before XP began to disappear. Few people are running machines old enough to have shipped with original XP licenses. Who wants a 256MB of RAM, 20GB HDD machine from 2002 anyway?

    MS is dying because Ballmer is an f-ing idiot.

  • by niftymitch ( 1625721 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @07:40PM (#44313245)

    Release windows for free, and we will finally see how it competes.

    TFT (the fine title) suggests that they can still charge for windows as long as they keep eating the windows users (or only their bases?) without worry - and this "without worry" is somehow the miraculous key to the solution.

    Not for free but they need to understand that as you suck harder and harder on the udder of a cash cow the less friendly that cow will be to you and will dry up or kick you in the head.

    At this point it is difficult to believe that MS has not realized an honest profit from the honest investments it has made. They have done a lot of service but there is a point when the business model must change.

    Worthy computers can be had for yuppiy pocket change and free software has gotten well beyond the experimental stages. Especially in server land.

    The home computer model has changed, and there will be less and less need for WindowZ. My smart TV has more compute power than my early on desktops. Which were well beyond my 6502, MC14500 and 8080 processor based projects. It is a new day, MS and many others need to take stock or see their financial models fall apart.

    Servers and server farms will grow.... but be in the hands of a small number of companies. In the price range of a UPS delivery van small companies will have local computer resources than can be installed and serviced by folk at an equivalent level of a USP van driver. Yes the Brown UPS vans are a marvel of technology but they make money delivering packages shipped for sub $10... that is astounding.

    Chromebooks and the new XO tablet are showing that the old models are fragile and new ideas are welcome.

    Raspberry-Pi and project boards like the pandaboard and Beaglebone Black are showing that sufficiently interesting hardware need not cost a lot of $$. Invest $100 in these school and development boards and revisit your education.

    The future is at hand -- yet again.

The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford