My main job is IT consultancy (I do stock trading for fun) and, for a year now, I haven’t used, on any of my machines, any Microsoft product besides Windows (and its built-in applications). Let me explain…
The last 2 Microsoft products that I used were Outlook Express (which I was, for mysterious reasons, emotionally attached to) and Microsoft Office (which I used to hate, but had to use because of my job). I used Outlook Express on my reporting machine and I used Microsoft Office on both my reporting and my development machine.
When I replaced my reporting and development machines a year ago, I was faced with a big dilemma. Which email client should I use to replace Outlook Express (Outlook Express was defunct years ago)? Mozilla Thunderbird seemed like an excellent solution, but I wanted a client that organizes my emails the same way that Outlook Express did (e.g. all email accounts go to the same folder). After some research, I discovered that Thunderbird can do all what I want with the use of plugins and some modifications to its settings. I installed it, I modified it, and I used it and it made me really happy! Now I’m able to quickly find old emails (I mean really quickly) – it used to take me about 20 minutes to find an email because the search engine in Outlook Express sucked. Email client problem solved!
As for Microsoft Office, since I really hated it and I thought it was a complete ripoff, I actively searched for a free replacement and I found it easily. It was Apache’s OpenOffice, which was a product that I have used many years ago but did not quite impress me. However, OpenOffice nowadays is a polished product, and you really can do whatever you want with it. You can even open Microsoft Office documents or save documents as MS Office documents. Office productivity software problem solved!
Now, what’s the point of this post? Is it to let others know that I use free software on my machines? Well, maybe, but there’s another point to it. It means that Microsoft’s revenue is shrinking as more and more people are aware that they can be (with the exception of Windows) Microsoft free.
Microsoft knows that, and that’s why they have moved to a subscription based model on their products in order to make up for the lost revenue. I’m not sure how this business model is working for them and I’m not sure whether this is a good strategy on the long term, considering that non-Microsoft products are now extremely reliable.
I think Microsoft’s last bastion is Windows – if they lose it then they lose everything. Google is trying to push them off the cliff with their Chrome OS – but that won’t happen anytime soon because Google’s alternative is online only, and the world isn’t ready yet, nevertheless, Google is bound to eat some of Microsoft’s market share. Apple is already doing that. Microsoft, with their current strategy, cannot survive on the long run, because Windows is ridiculously priced at the moment. Microsoft is still acting as if they’re the only ones with a good OS, which is not the case anymore. They just can’t charge $100 for an OS anymore for the end users (they can charge much more to corporations, however, and they can still get away with it), which means that they will need to revise their pricing strategy. I’m sure that at one point, Microsoft will move to a subscription based model on Windows, which is very logical, since Windows undergoes many updates a year, and people should not expect to get those updates for free for the lifetime of the product.
On the bright side, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is doing well on the stock market. It’s up 22.75% in the past 12 months, which is quite impressive. It’ll be more impressive if Microsoft can sustain that growth in the next few years, but hey, there are many tech companies trading at a forward P/E of over 100, which means that at a P/E of 15, Microsoft is modestly valued.
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