This Is How Microsoft Has Been Trying To Change The Game In 2013

Chris Hoffman 01-01-2014

Microsoft has been behind. As Apple released the iPad and the tablet market grew, Microsoft seemed to sit around and twiddle their thumbs for a few years. The great sleeping giant has now been fully awakened and Microsoft is frantically trying not just to catch up, but to get ahead of everyone else.


The PC market continues to decline, with 2013 seeing the steepest decline of the PC market ever. Even Apple took a hit on their own PCs, as the iPad and other tablets cannibalized their sales. This is the world Microsoft awoke to find itself in.

Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 8 Super Windows 8.1 Tweaks For Power Users With Windows 8.1 came many changes. Some options are completely new, others were changed or moved. Whether you're using Windows 8.1 on a desktop, tablet, or something in between, these tweaks will come in handy! Read More is what Windows 8 should have been. It has more help features, including an entire help app. It has better desktop integration, allowing traditional desktop users to ignore the new Start screen and other “touch-first” features if they like. The new interface is more powerful, with much improved support for multitasking. The included apps are much more robust and make a better case for the new interface, and the Windows Store is also filled with quite a few more apps What Are The Best Apps To Get Started With Windows 8? Read More .

This latest release of Windows was also significant because it came out so fast. Microsoft wants to update their software much more frequently and get on a rapid-release cycle for its products, even Windows. This will allow them to better compete with mobile operating systems and frequently updated web-based software. Yes, that means we hopefully won’t see another greater-than-five-year-long development period like the one we saw between Windows XP and Windows Vista.

Microsoft is faster, more agile — and even listening to customers a bit more. Windows 8.1 devices are making more of a dent Has Windows 8 Failed in the Market, or Only in Your Mind? Is Windows 8 a failure? People who dislike Windows 8 generally say it is. But has Windows 8 really failed in the marketplace, or do we just think Windows 8 has failed? One thing's for... Read More .

PC Pricing

Nevermind Microsoft’s own Surface PCs, even though they’re dramatically improved in their second versions. The real big story when it comes to PCs is the pricing across the whole market. When Windows 8 came out, computer stores were full of old, no-touch laptops. People flocked to these devices because touch-enabled laptops and tablets were so much more expensive. Many Windows 8 users didn’t even have touch on new Windows 8 PCs.

It’s now possible to go into a store and get a touch-enabled Windows PC for significantly cheaper than an iPad. For example, the Asus T100 transformer book costs just $349 for a full Windows PC with touch. You can remove the keyboard and use it as a tablet, just as you can on Asus’ line of Android Transformer convertibles.

This is the sort of competitive pricing that will give Microsoft’s line of Windows 8 PCs an actual chance against the iPad. Microsoft isn’t really responsible for these prices, but they’re advertising the heck out of them for a reason.

Better yet, PC battery life is also improving to be more competitive with the iPad. That $350 Asus T100 advertises 11 hours of battery life.


Office 365

Want Microsoft Office? Well, Microsoft still offers a boxed copy of Office 2013 Microsoft Office 2013: The Unofficial Guide If you're considering an upgrade to Office 2013, or you've just paid for the package and want to make the best of it, this Microsoft Office 2013 Guide is for you. Read More , but they’d really prefer it if you bought the online subscription version, Office 365. For $10 per month or $100 per year, you or your entire family get access to Office on up to five PCs or Macs. You also get 20 GB of additional SkyDrive storage space and some additional free Skype minutes.

Microsoft would prefer you buy the subscription, as you’ll always be up to date with the latest version of Office. They’ll also always be able to make money off of you. Microsoft has never been happy that some people are still using Office 97, and they’d rather continue to make money off these Office users. Subscription services are their way to do this.

Despite the downsides, Office 365 is a pretty decent deal if you need Office — especially if there are multiple people in your household who need it. It’s also a big example of how Microsoft is moving to online, software-as-a-service solutions, while still providing choice.


Not content to just improve their own products, Microsoft has also been taking the fight to Google with a series of increasingly embarrassing “Scroogled” ads Microsoft, You’re Embarrassing Yourself. Please Stop. [Opinion] Microsoft: we need to talk. Yes, it’s about those Scroogle ads. No, I don’t think they’re funny, and no: I don’t think Google is worried about them. Read More . Microsoft claims to be doing a public service here, reminding people that Google uses their personal data to target advertising to them in exchange for free services.  It’s true, but it’s not necessarily as sinister as Microsoft is painting it. The Scroogled ads also haven’t appeared to make much of a dent in Google’s market share or the public imagination, yet.

Nevertheless, Scroogled ads continue to come out. You can even buy Scroogled merchandise in Microsoft’s online store.

Acquiring Nokia’s Hardware Division

Microsoft is currently in the process of acquiring Nokia’s hardware division. If you haven’t been keeping track of Windows Phone, Nokia is the only hardware manufacturer who’s really serious about it. Acquiring Nokia’s hardware division means Microsoft will now own the highest-quality, most serious manufacturer of Windows Phone devices. They’ll be able to offer a more integrated Windows Phone experience, just as how Apple can offer a better experience by controlling both the iPhone’s software and hardware.

Bringing the biggest Windows Phone manufacturer in-house is a big shift of strategy for Microsoft. Expect to see a much harder Windows Phone push with Microsoft-branded Windows Phone devices. Microsoft is very serious about Windows Phone — they’ve already established themselves as the third player by beating BlackBerry this year. BlackBerry now appears to be in a tailspin, bleeding increasing amounts of money each quarter.

The CEO Search

After initiating a “One Microsoft” reorganization plan, Steve Ballmer announced his intention to resign as CEO. Microsoft has been looking for a new CEO since, and this new CEO will guide Microsoft through their transformation into the “devices and services” company they want to be.

It’s unclear who will end up leading Microsoft at this point, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see a strategic shift as the new CEO sets different priorities and focuses on different markets. A Microsoft not lead by Steve Ballmer 5 Funny Videos Starring Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer A lot of people really don't like Steve Ballmer. Perhaps because he's Mr. Microsoft, or because he was (for many years) Bill Gates' lickspittle underling. Whatever the reason, he's a figure of fun in a... Read More will be a different Microsoft.


Microsoft Is Transforming

Microsoft is looking different these days. The slow, lumbering behemoth allergic to change has vanished. They’re changing more quickly than ever, attempting to beat their competitors at their own game. Will they be able to slow the decline of the PC market, or at least position Windows 8.1 devices to grab a good chunk of the tablet market? As we begin 2014, it’ll be interesting to see just how Microsoft’s bold bets pay off.

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  1. Sean Mayer
    January 3, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Microsoft, like all entities, will have a lifespan. To date, it has been largely operating systems; that market is now "commoditized" by the likes of Linux (especially the GUI-versions like Mint) and Android. As for their office applications, unless you need very sophisticated functions, you can stick with Office 97 funtionality - now available in open source equivalents.

    So, I supect that Microsoft will go the way of IBM, with a shrinking "mass" customer base and a focusing on "core" large accounts. I would think of divesting in the next year or two.

  2. dragonmouth
    January 3, 2014 at 2:00 am

    "Microsoft has been behind. "
    Ain't that the TRUTH!

    "Windows 8.1 is what Windows 8 should have been."
    And it still is a piece of garbage. A smartphone interface for a desktop??? You say Unity is also for touch screens? No wonder, it's from a company that is a M$ wannabe and control all of Linux.

    "Acquiring Nokia’s Hardware Division"
    I wonder how long is it going to take M$ to Embrace, Extend and Extinguish Nokia hardware division?

    "They’re changing more quickly than ever,"
    Which isn't saying much. The "quick decisions" you are so excited about have been in the making for years. M$ is still as nimble as a supertanker.

    "Will they be able to slow the decline of the PC market,"
    In a word, NO. It's not that the market has become saturated, or that all it needs is a new killer app. The erosion in the PC market is caused by users who never needed the power of a PC but had to buy them because that was the only way they could get on the Internet or create a document. These users are now going to smartphones and tablets, never to return to PCs. Even if M$ and PC manufacturers gave them away for free, the PC market would continue its decline.

    "Will they be able ..... to position Windows 8.1 devices to grab a good chunk of the tablet market?"
    Not bloody likely! M$ can position Win 8.1 or Win Whatever any way they want but they will never "grab a good chunk" of the tablet market. M$ is too far behind. M$ should have released Surface within months of the release of iPad and other tablets. So much for Microsoft's quick reaction!

    • Andrew Brian A
      January 10, 2014 at 6:31 pm

      Love your explanation on the "erosion in the PC market" So true. Never saw it like that.

    • dragonmouth
      January 10, 2014 at 10:24 pm

      @Andrew Brian A:
      Actually, there is still a huge untapped market for PCs and laptops, and tablets - the undeveloped countries. Unfortunately, that market will have to be given access to electricity before manufacturers can start selling PC over there.

  3. bkell
    January 2, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    @Jack of all trades (I seriously doubt that!)
    So, you want names? Want to know what distro's I installed? Will that let you pull your head out of your a..?! It is a serious mistake on your part to challenge my truthfulness. You may not know anyone that is not a liar, but you don't me.

  4. bkell
    January 2, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    (Considering that most people responding to my posts never check back again, I'm probably wasting my time but...)
    To start with; I am 58yrs old. Disabled/retired, I have been building/repairing/programming computers since the before the first x286 hit the streets. I suspect that is longer than some/most posters have been alive. So,
    @Shishir KS
    You understand the article, but not my comments??? m$ employee?
    BTW: did you learn sentence/thought/continuation structure in school? Think context. By itself, your statement make absolutely no sense. It needs to be qualified.

    So, what doesn't make sense to you? That someone actually KNOWS what m$ is doing, and has been doing since it's inception. Or is that I'm poking holes in your beloved OS? (From your pic, you look to be relativly young. Surely you are not so close minded already.) Does the truth really hurt that bad?

    @Eric N states:
    "I’ll repeat again. Microsoft allowed you to make a choice. They did not lock down the x86 hardware platform so that people can have their own freedom."

    And I YOU think that was m$'s decision?! It was based on solely on outcry from manufacturers, the public, and other OS/software vendors. m$ would NEVER have done it otherwise. This is well documented. You didn't see that?

    Do you not see that m$ is systematically trying to become the ONLY operating system, the only software period? They have ALWAYS wanted to be a monopoly. (good for them & the NSA... since they have provided the backdoors &/or not sealed up the ones they were informed about. But, of course, their lack of security, as well as a lack of concern for users privacy, has never been a corporate concern. It's all about the money.)

    Read my thread again. I have tried it... I had to.

    You also state:
    "Times have changed, and even Linux with Gnome 3 and Unity is moving on with the times and ditching the old stuff"
    Seriouly, what does that statement mean? (I personally found Unity and Gnome3 to be "almost" as inefficient as win8, as well as uncustomizable.)

    So, how did you improve your workflow with 8? Have you factored in how much time has been involved having to 'touch' the screen or moving to the mouse/trackpad?

    And, btw, I am one of those people without enough food. I fail to see what relevance there is to that statement? Care to elucidate?

    My opinions... you may not like them, but they are the truth.
    "The truth will set you free!" If you don't want to know the truth, you are destined to become just another sheep-in-the-flock.

  5. Bud
    January 2, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    Thank God, I dumped MicroSUCKS a few years ago!!!

  6. sfmitch
    January 2, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    "Windows 8.1 is what Windows 8 should have been."

    I couldn't disagree more. Windows 8 should have been an evolution of Windows 7 instead of a bastardized hybrid of phone/tablet OS + desktop/laptop OS.

    I understand why Microsoft came up with their strategy - "we're getting killed in tablets and phones, but we've got the desktop/laptop market sewn up. let's create a single interface and force that on desktop/laptop users so that the next time they go to buy a phone and/or tablet they will immediately recognize the Windows OS and want to buy it."

    I just think it stinks.

  7. bben
    January 2, 2014 at 10:58 am

    I am not a MS hater. But 8 is probably the worst idea yet. As has already been said - they are trying to force a cell phone UI onto a desktop. That UI works fine for a cell phone. However, my desktop monitors are beyond convenient touch distance. And none of them are touch screen anyway - and that is one of Win8's big selling points - touch screen capability. 8.1 may be a patch, but it's just not nearly big enough to cover the gaping holes in Win8. MS didn't get to be a giant by copying the other guy either. So trying to out apple apple is not the way to go. Their core market is businesses and not home computer owners or geeks. As a NON business user, geek, and home user I find myself leaning more and more toward Linux. I still don't think Linux is quite ready for prime time, but I have hopes that it will be eventually. Meanwhile, I will be sticking with Win7 for the foreseeable future.

  8. bkell
    January 2, 2014 at 1:57 am

    I guess this is supposed to be the authors take on a good article about microsoft. As I don't wear rose colored glasses, here's what I see.

    1. m$ continues to produce an OS nobody WANTS or needs.
    (even an insect is smart enough to stop doing something that doesn't work!) No one wants a damn phone interface for a desktop. That was an incredibly stupid idea at the onset!

    2. Window8 is solely killing the PC market. (Ultimately the PC manuf. fault, they should have refused to install the piece of sh.t You will not sell hardware if it is 'poisoned' - ask Cisco re: the NSA mods.).

    3. The ONLY reason m$ ever had "market share" was because they played to people that were lazy. Their operating systems are "OS's for idiots" there's no common sense to anything they produce.)

    4. Microsoft is complicit with the US gov't. and all the NSA spying programs. They can poke fun at others all they want. We all know that they would bend over and take it in the a.. if our gov't asked them to.

    4. Ms. Ballmer's decisions as CEO of m$ proves he was/is an idiot. Because, ultimately, he was the one that "OK'd" any rollouts.

    5. Apparently, m$ is going to become a patent troll.

    6. Or, maybe some of all of the above?

    My prediction for 2014. As long as, essentially, they look in-house for a new CEO (and upper mgmt), the decline will continue... it's like they are all in-bred &/or clones. (Of course, the same can be said for USA politicians too!)

    The only chance they have is to drop that interface (which I pointed out when I first saw it - had they listened). The original Windows3 was an incredible drag on my time, but win8 has erected the Mt. Everest of lost-productivity.

    The good in this is that 7 out of 10 friends/family that have recently rec'd a computer with useless8 installed are now deleting it (any discs are for pistol practice) and installing Linux.

    So, Thanks Microsoft! You are helping to further the use of Linux & Open Source programs. Didn't expect that, did you... can you say "short-sighted"? Yea, I knew you could. Now get to the back-of-the-line!

    • Shishir KS
      January 2, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      I thought when people spent time to write long comments like this, they made at least a little bit sense. This comment proves I was wrong.

    • Eric N
      January 2, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      Microsoft didn't explicitly ask PC manufacturers to allow the disabling of secure boot as a requirement so that they could force users into using Windows 8. Microsoft gave you a choice, why complain. Some people don't even have enough food to eat. Also, you should really give Windows 8.1 a try. It's not that bad, and it actually helped to increase my productivity and improve my workflow. You just need to stop looking at things in the same way people did 10 years ago. Times have changed, and even Linux with Gnome 3 and Unity is moving on with the times and ditching the old stuff. I'll repeat again. Microsoft allowed you to make a choice. They did not lock down the x86 hardware platform so that people can have their own freedom.

    • Jackof Alltrades
      January 2, 2014 at 8:28 pm

      Willing to bet 7/10 people did uninstall it, and maybe one of them did install Linux, the other 6 probably went to Windows 7 though. Imo that's a vast embellishment of the truth. I won't believe for even a second that 7/10 people switched to linux.