I’ve started giving the Chromium based Microsoft Edge on macOS a trial run and the first thing you’ll notice is how much of an improvement it is when compared to Chrome – I don’t know what Microsoft has done but it is more responsive, it feels a lot more light weight, It appears that Microsoft are really putting in the sort of effort that I wouldn’t have expected to see if it were the Microsoft of the past. An interesting part of the move to Chromium has been the recent announcement by Microsoft that they’re also going to provide Microsoft Edge on Linux as well which makes sense given Microsoft is offering Linux cloud hosting on their platform. It appears that Microsoft have finally realised where their strength resides – not in Windows (although that is an important part) but their middleware, services and cloud – something that the new CEO Satya Nadella has really honed in over the last few years.
Satya Nadella has had his critics such as the enthusiast crowd getting up ‘n arms because of the over culling off of products Microsoft as there was no longer the business case to further investment into it. For example, the never ending amount of money being thrown at Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile that never gained traction even with the millions thrown at at some point you have to admit the the opportunity to establish a platform of ones own has gone and one has to deal with the new reality that exists. The two platforms that exist are Android and iOS – let the two side beat each other up while making money from both sides of the conflict resulting in being able to come out on top regardless of who ends up winning.
There is also rationalisation of Microsoft product and service line up – Cortana for example is being scaled back to focus exclusively on the productivity portfolio rather than trying to be the catch all ‘everything to everyone’ that it has attempted to be ever since it was launched. Cortana is in the same situation where Windows Phone/Windows Mobile was, more or less, there was an opportunity earlier on to get in early but they were too late but Cortana, unlike Windows Phone/Windows Mobile still has value within their productivity portfolio. Making Cortana the AI front to allowing people to manage large amounts of data so that people can be more productive is a whole lot more effective goal than trying to be everything to everyone. When you narrow the goal of a product then you have a greater likelihood of success – you can hone in what you want to achieve and discard those which lay outside of that scope so then what you do focus on delivered without a laundry list of compromises in an attempt to please no one (but in reality no one ends up being happy)
It appears that there is a cycle in the IT world where businesses spread themselves really thin in a hope of being the ‘one stop shop’ but then quickly realise that in the process of trying to be everything to everything one the end result is a half baked experience for all concerned. This also manifests itself in the form of various parts of the business pulling the organisation in opposite directions in many cases resulting in an incoherent unfocused product line up and customers end up losing confidence in the business over the long term because the perception is that the business doesn’t have a coherent vision. Although Elizabeth Warren (presidential candidate for the Democratic Party) has talked about breaking up big technology companies, I sometimes wonder whether the market will do the job more effectively – Facebook is losing young people in favour of WhatsApp and Instagram, both of which are Facebook companies but over the long term the move away from the primary platform might force them to change their business model. There has been a new platform launched by the founder of Wikipedia which is a paid service – it might not get everyone but for those who are happy to pay for a service if it means that their privacy isn’t being invaded I could imagine fhat for some it would be a wealth refresh from Facebook and their monetisation model.