Feeds

A decade to forget - how Microsoft lost its mojo

So not the 1990s

Intelligent flash storage arrays

It was a confident - some might say complacent - Microsoft that entered the decade.

Microsoft was the PC. Such was its grip on the desktop and laptop ecosystem that it could force OEMs to ship its browser by threatening to cut off access to its operating system.

In quick succession between 2000 and 2001, Microsoft shipped Windows 2000, Windows XP, Office 2000, and Internet Explorer 6; delivered its answer to Java with .NET; and made a radical departure by moving into hardware to take on games-market leader Sony with the Xbox.

Almost immediately, Microsoft paid the price for its confidence. When the internet changed the world, it became clear that the software Microsoft had refined on the desktop and server was not suited to the new world of the online openness. Windows, Outlook, and IE were slammed - and hard - by wave after wave of malicious worms. They hit millions of systems, taking down everyone from anonymous individuals sending email to databases in nuclear power stations.

Next, Microsoft stumbled over what was supposed to be its core competency: building a new Windows. In 2004, it went back to the drawing board on a version of Windows it had been building since 2001: Longhorn. When Longhorn finally shipped as Windows Vista, it was late and so hated that partners didn't support it, customers wouldn't use it, and Windows XP remained the default choice on peoples' desktops.

As the decade progressed, the PC itself - the bedrock Microsoft bet its business and vision on since the 1970s - was surpassed by a new generation of computing platforms that excited developers and users. People became obsessed by netbooks and cell phones, while consumer goods and even cars became computing platforms.

Meanwhile, for OEMs, developers, and startups, the choice was no longer a straight one between either Java or .NET. At least in that battle, Microsoft had a 50/50 chance of winning. But the Noughties became the decade of open source and Linux. AJAX, Apache, MySQL, and PHP/Perl/Python fuelled a renaissance in development. They didn't come with a pricey or restrictive license.

At times, Microsoft's management didn't help the company. Its internet and mobile strategy were always on the back burner to the PC. By 2009, Microsoft was spending furiously to close the gap on Google's huge ads and search market share. Late in the day, it promised a version of Windows Mobile to match Apple's iPhone - a device chief executive Steve Ballmer had laughed off in 2007. The sobering truth was that in two years, the iPhone had robbed functional but boring Windows Mobile phones of valuable market share.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Next page: The IE debacle

More from The Register

next story
That dreaded syncing feeling: Will Microsoft EVER fix OneDrive?
Microsoft's long history of broken Windows sync
Mozilla, EFF, Cisco back free-as-in-FREE-BEER SSL cert authority
Let’s Encrypt to give HTTPS-everywhere a boost in 2015
Bada-Bing! Mozilla flips Firefox to YAHOO! for search
Microsoft system will be the default for browser in US until 2020
SLURP! Flick your TONGUE around our LOLLIPOP – Google
Android 5 is coming – IF you're lucky enough to have the right gadget
Nokia's N1 fondleslab's HIDDEN BRILLIANCE: The 'Z Launcher'
Sugarcoating Android's Lollipop makes tab easier to swallow
Bug fixes! Get your APPLE BUG FIXES! iOS and OS X updates right here!
Yosemite fixes Wi-Fi hiccup, older iOS devices get performance boost
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.