Microsoft recently sent me a survey with all the usual questions about their products and services. What an eye-opener. I used to spend most of my working life on their programs: Ran Windows programs, Outlook handled my calendar, contacts and to do’s, and Word and Powerpoint handled my writing and presentations.
The survey made me look at all these areas against Apple and Google. It made me realize how much I rely an Apple and Google for innovation, and how I’ve gradually drifted away from Microsoft’s technology. I miss Microsoft. I really do. They’re still innovative, but nothing like Apple and Google.
Judging from the emphasis in their ads, they understand that their customers want ease and simplicity. They are Easification Wannabees, which is better than being oblivious. Imagine what would happen if they were able to reach their aspirations?
- The marketplace is a powerful self-correcting mechanism.
- Even a company that totally dominated a field can be eroded.
- Never take your customers for granted.
- You cannot overestimate the power of Ease and Simplicity in driving sales.
- The Complexity Trap is almost inescapable (see below).
I’ve just tried Office 2011 for the Mac. I had high hopes that maybe Microsoft has evolved. They have, somewhat. The new Office illustrates the Complexity Trap. Once you’re in it, it’s almost impossible to get out of it because while I’m looking for a radical mutation into something as elegant as Pages, Keynote and Numbers, if they did that, their installed base would howl that things are no longer in the same place and now the program is harder to use. They struck a pretty good balance, but Word (all I’ve tried so far) certainly isn’t elegantly simple and intuitive yet. I see what they’re trying to do: gradually making it cleaner and easier. But at this rate, they’ll get there in about 25 years.
I would really like to like them again.