Microsoft Software and Device Strategy In the contemporary business environment, the complexities in the implementation of change and new strategy tend to be greater than was the case in the past (Stark, 2011). Numerous firms have used the motto of “a time to change” as a competitive differentiator and the risks and stakes are getting higher each day. One company that has been forced in the last few years to implement a variety of strategic changes is Microsoft. Less than a decade ago, Microsoft was the biggest player in the provision of PC software with its iconic Windows platform (Asthana and Asthana, 2012).
However, Google and Apple. inc have proven to be resilient in their competition and this has forced Microsoft to rethink their strategies (Brustein, 2013) radically. In the last one year, the cornerstone of their strategic change has been interoperability; largely, this was inspired by Google’s fast growing dominance on a market that was traditionally Microsoft’s. Google’s Android clients can interact their PC, Tablets and mobile phones seamlessly and this makes the technology a huge attraction as it easily made inroads into Microsoft’s market share.
Microsoft’s response has been to organize their software services in such a way that they deliver the same experience to multiple devices to execute and monetize a single strategy driven by shared goals. They acquired Nokia, which was one of the biggest mobile companies and then introduced windows 8 mobile (Ali-Yrkkö et al. , 2013), which for the first time could run on a mobile and tablet platform (Palathingal, 2014). Consequently, Microsoft users can use the windows on the PC but when they are at home or outside the office, they will have access to all the services and the same data through sky drive on their phone or tablet.
According to their website, they want to provide holistic services “that provide that provide compelling, integrated experiences across the many screens in our lives, with maximum return to shareholders” (Ballmer, 2013). This strategy has seen Microsoft organize itself from a functional perspective by creating a split among engineering, marketing, business development, research, finance and several other key units. Consequently, it has come up with four major areas that are the Operating system, applications, cloud storage and devices.
It is now capable of competition with the other market giants such as Google by seamlessly providing services such as mail and SkyDrive all, which improve its capacity for interoperability. However, this is work in progress and in as much as Microsoft has managed to make significant steps, they admit that there is much more they can and will do. Admittedly, strategic change is never easy to implement; there are barriers in nearly every stage of the way more so in view of the fact that the change is often very expensive to manage and predict correctly (Piercy, 2008; Shankar et al. , 2010).
In addition, one can never be sure they are moving in the right direction in view of the dynamism that has characterized the technological market in the past decade (Linzmayer, 2004). This begs the question, has Microsoft been successful in their new strategy? Given that they are still implementing it, a definitive answer would be hard to pin down. However, one can confidently argue they have had a significant degree of success so far and are projected to be even more successful in posterity.
One of the most apparent success is the fact that it has managed to resurrect Nokia, which was on a fast fall from the top trailing behind Samsung’s and apple with its outdated operating systems. By taking it over and installing the Microsoft OS, Microsoft turned its fortunes around and boosted its own interoperability base by providing itself with an already respected brand on which to launch their mobile software.
In 2013, Microsoft’ profits exceeded expectations in Wall Street with a 17% increase which is evidence that the firms strategy has been relatively successful. The profits were from the sales on Bing and even the surface tablet, which enjoyed relatively higher demand after its prices were, slashed (Goldman, 2013). Nokia smartphone running the windows 8 platform have also been a key contributing to the firm’s profit margin (Singh, 2014). Nevertheless, it is worth noting that Microsoft is not offering anything remarkably new or innovative. Both Google and Apple have explored the interoperability platform and to some extent Microsoft is occupying the same position apple held in the 90’s is as far as strategy is concerned.
Microsoft has based its strategy on holding down its PC market and branching out to the mobile one. Should companies like Samsung decide to dispense with Microsoft’s operating systems and manufacture their own, it may negatively affect the former (Andrea, 2013). Google has gradually started the process by introducing chrome OS, which has been integrated with computers such as Samsung, Acer, and HP (Sandhu, 2013).
In conclusion, Microsoft’s strategic shift to interoperability is without doubt a brilliant and profitable one as the profits show; however, it may not provide the firm with a lasting competitive advantage. This calls for more innovative and differentiated strategies from Microsoft rather those copied or forced upon them by the competition. In the long run, Microsoft may retain its competitive advantage and become a leader in the Mobile and PC market; however, this calls for a more decisive and original strategy than the one being implemented. References Ali-Yrkkö, J. et al. 2013.
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