Compare & Contrast: The Cowboys / Microsoft

Scott Hanselman came to Dallas late last (2013) August and revealed a site for the people to have a voice in the selection of the Next Microsoft CEO. This was on the heels of Steve Ballmer announcing he would be resigning and it also happened to be the start of football season.  Here in Texas, Football is a pretty big deal and unfortunately the Cowboys have been pretty mediocre.  Since the selection of Microsoft’s next Commander in Chief is such a big deal, I jokingly informed a colleague that the Cowboys would make it to the playoffs before Microsoft selects their final candidate.  Short-sighted, I thought the Cowboys had a great chance given the Giants were stinking it up, RGIII wasn’t 75%, and the Eagles were going through a coaching transition – and eventually a QB transition. Well I was wrong!  Microsoft hasn’t selected a CEO yet, and although I was confident that they would hire someone within 6 months; I was even more sure that the Cowboys would have also secured a playoff berth.

So I’ll provide some analysis to why both Power Players are struggling with achieving their goals, and why although Microsoft will find a CEO before the Cowboys make it to the playoffs -they’ll have bigger problems on their hand over the next 6 – 18 months.

The Developmer Community has no clear path. I remember a couple of years ago when Microsoft introduced Silverlight, and some of my colleagues immediately became fans. But unfortunately Microsoft pulled the rug from underneath it.  Now we have a bigger issue, what should developers do for Windows 8, RT, Tablets, and Windows Phones?

Steve Ballmer had his infamous Developer Chant, but I personally believe they really have to focus on the direction they want developers to go in.  Ruby On Rails, the emergence of the new MEAN stack is bringing a lot of feature rich competition out there. ASP.Net MVC has established itself, only after other stacks achieved MVC years early.  So where does Microsoft garner more fans for its technologies.  I think open-source, allow the developer community to build tools that help them get work done, make it easier for organizations to buy-into Microsoft technologies .

I remeber when I got the Windows Mobile HTC Tilt phone. It was packed with features and was competitive with the iPhone even thought it came to market 2-3 years prior to the first iPhone. But what happened? They failed to innovate something attractive to the masses and give a platform where developers could be creative.  I mean, I am Windows developer and I haven’t developed anything for the Windows Phone.  Will the Windows Tablet be able to gain market share?  I believe it has tons of features, but lacks on applications. I think Microsoft can leverage their business model by focusing on servicing and cloud computing.  If they’re able to make their devices communicate with each other, allow their products to be accessible from the cloud, they can begin to compete again.  Including a lite version of Microsoft Office for free withe a tablet or mobile device may be a great bonus.

Windows 8 has to win. Windows 7 has been good, but Windows 8 has the potential to be a Windows Vista.  The navigation is not simple, I had to go out and download a plugin for the start button for clients who refuse to use RT, but then once I upgrade them to 8.1 the start button isn’t the classic start.  The issue of RT apps versus Desktop apps is an issue.  Of course we hope a single application, can be easily configured to be deployed to all devices – but doubtful.  Better yet, how is the store going to work?  Business to Business Applications are totally different than Business to Consumer Applications.  For example, does a business pay to deploy an intranet application onto Windows 8 OS?  There’s several instances like this that have not been clearly mapped out, which needs some strong clarification.

Similarly, the Cowboys will have to answer major questions for their future. Who’s going to be the QB? who’s going to be the backup QB? is Tony Romo the future? Does Jason Garret have what it takes to get more than 8 wins (a play-off win?)? Does the defense have an identity? Who’s going to be the face of the unproven defense as D-Ware ages (and is currently facing contract issues).

Brands are great, which both have. But both are struggling to regain the prominence in the consumer world they once had.