Microsoft has and continues to change our world. Microsoft has been innovating for their entire life. Shall we see what the future might hold? Let’s do that but first we need to look at how we got to where we are today. We will do that by looking at some examples of how Microsoft has already changed our world through innovation.
What is innovation? It is: “introduction of new things or methods”. It could be a “new” something or a “better” something. In other words it could be “creating the first mouse [or mouse trap]” or “creating a better mouse [or mouse trap]”. Microsoft has developed many new products. They have also purchased many companies and then improved the products created by those companies. This tells me that Microsoft is not only an innovative company but also a visionary company. They are able to develop the products of the future and they are able to see the full potential of technologies that others have created. Let’s look at business productivity apps for a minute. I remember a time when Microsoft did not have a spreadsheet program. For those that are newer to the field than I, the market was dominated by Lotus 1-2-3 at that time. Microsoft entered the market with a competing product that ran on the new “Windows” platform. Back in those days, 1-2-3 was used (and loved) by most. Once Excel came out, Microsoft started taking market share not because it was developed by a large well known company [they were neither]. Market share in itself is not the goal. Market share is however a good indicator of the success and usage of the product. Microsoft took market share because they found a better way to implement spreadsheet technology. Excel took off because Microsoft made a better product. There were many improvements [innovations] in the Microsoft version of the spreadsheet application. What did people use before PowerPoint? I remember what I had on my computer. It was Harvard Graphics and Freelance Graphics. Back then we would create individual pages print them out on transparency film and flip through them one page at a time on an overhead projector. PowerPoint has certainly changed our world.
Were these products an anomaly or samples of what would come? The real beginning was the Basic programming language and the Disk Operating System (DOS). I submit that this was just the beginning. Was Windows always the dominant operating system? No, it was DOS and before that we did not have “Personal Computers” so I guess it was the mainframe. Was Word the dominant word processor? No, it was Word Perfect. Did the Innovation stop then? No, way. Look at the server OS. Did Windows always enjoy the market share they have today? No, Netware was the dominant player for many, many years. So you may agree that in the beginning there was lots of innovation. What about after that?
The Microsoft answer to the ccMail dominated mail environment was MSMail then Outlook and Exchange. The database world was dominated by non-Microsoft products like Oracle and DB2. Microsoft’s answer was SQL Server. SharePoint or SharePoint services are now a must have for all businesses small and large bringing document management and collaboration into the mainstream. Managing the business and the enterprise has never been easier now that the System Center family of products are available. The breadth and depth of products Microsoft has developed over the years is absolutely staggering. In all of these products and product families there are innovations. There are new things and new (and better) ways of doing things. In each and every update or upgrade of a product there is some level of innovation. That is the primary value Microsoft brings to their customers. From the Microsoft home page you can get information about most of the myriad of products Microsoft offers. Sure, Microsoft started off and developed their name with the Windows OS and Microsoft Office productivity suite but they are so much more today. Let’s take a look at a very small sampling of the products Microsoft has out today.
Product Line / Class
Windows Desktop, Windows Server, Windows Phone/Mobile, Windows Embedded, Hyper-V Server, Etc…
System Center Family - SCVMM, SCOM, SCCM, SCDPM, SCCM, Etc
SQL Server, SharePoint, Exchange, Communications Server, Dynamics, BizTalk, Etc…
Office – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access, Etc…
Visio, Project, MapPoint, SharePoint Workspace, Publisher, Etc…
Mouse, Keyboard, Webcam, Xbox, Zune, Etc.
Forefront Protection, Identity Manager, Unified Access Gateway, Rights Management, Federated Services, Etc.
Hyper-V, Virtual Machine Manager, XP Mode, App-V, Med-V, etc.
Online and Cloud
Bing, Azure, SQL Azure, BPOS, Intunes, Hotmail, xBox Live, Live ID, etc.
Microsoft is very much a visionary company. To me, it is almost as if they can see the future and understand what I as a user will need in the future, then develop it so it is available when I need it. Yes, sometimes things are obvious and one could easily argue that it took too long to develop a solution. However, I am happy that the crystal ball did work in so many other cases. I am equally as happy that Microsoft comes in and makes things happen once a need becomes obvious.
Microsoft has not always had the market cap of today. Even when they were a small company, they were putting out products to make our lives easier and to make us more productive. Today Microsoft puts billions of dollars into R & D to create new products and improve existing products. With this investment, they improve our professional and personal lives. They have entire research centers all over the world for the purpose of innovating. The one in our region is the New England Research and Development Center.
Ok, but what has Microsoft done lately and where are they going? Microsoft is growing, they are moving everything to the cloud. If fact, they have been “All In” on the cloud for a few years and already have the most diverse and integrated platform available by anyone in the space. They are leading us to the cloud. They have massive data centers where they are providing a massive audience with a variety of services with astonishing numbers. They are changing the data center with virtualization, management and security. They are improving our lives by improving the products we use every day (e.g. Windows 7, Office 2010, Bing and SharePoint). They are helping us make the world a smaller place with products like Bing. Don’t take my word for it, look what others are saying about it: Bing and Google in a Race for Features. Microsoft continues to drive technology and the Internet by creating and participating in the creation of new RFC’s. They are changing our world by creating new products and services for us to consume from home, office and online from any number and type of devices. They are innovating by giving us the capability to create, consume, integrate, manage and deliver services on premises and from the web. They help us afford these services by offering products we can consume with operational funds keeping us from putting out significant capital expenditures in this very tough economic climate. They are giving us great resources like TechNet to solve the problems we encounter. They have their employees create videos and whitepapers so we can learn fast in this pressure ridden industry. They serve and help the community. They help solve the problems of tomorrow. Another example of planning and executing for the future is Imagine Cup 2011. As for continued success and innovation in new and existing products, one only needs to look at the incredible adoption of Bing and Windows 7. The innovations built into these new products are unmistakable. There are many, many other things. This is a topic that would require entire volumes to cover it in any detail. As we skip through the timeline of the Technology Age you can see that Microsoft has played a key role in the progression of technology. It is clear to me, and to most that look at it through non-tinted glasses that Microsoft is here to stay and going to continue to change our world through Innovation. I am excited to be in the technology space and associated with Microsoft.
For those that have not been fortunate enough to attend an event where we played the Microsoft Future Vision of Productivity Video you can now see it from your desk. Enjoy Microsoft's plans for future innovations in productivity!!!
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after all the hate microsoft gets, it is interesting to read an article talking about their innovation instead of "stealing" from apple all the time :-) Thanks!
This article said absolutely nothing! It was one big cheer for Microsoft as of written by someone on the payroll
Hi Gill, Thanks for the feedback. Sorry you got nothing out of it.
The video displays technologies that are nothing short of remarkable. I, for one, can not wait.