5 Failed Products of Microsoft
Microsoft, formed in 1975, has been at the pinnacle of computer software and hardware development for many years. The company has grown by many magnitudes in these years and has revolutionized the field with its wide product portfolio. It currently is the largest software maker in the world and is widely considered as one of the world’s most valuable companies.
Like many other visionary companies, Microsoft has often faltered when it comes to understanding the market and consumer needs. It has many a times launched products which have failed to live up to their expectations. The reasons mainly being the company losing focus on what the market desires or issues with the product itself.
Some of the company’s major failures include:
Clippy, the Office Assistant
The most infamous of them all, the Office assistant was used as an Intelligent User Interface installed within the MS office suite to help users use the software more efficiently. It was installed in MS office for ten years till it was killed in the 2007 version. It was a tool many just loved to hate. Many users felt Clippy was a very annoying nuisance which hampered their experience of the office tool. A major fault that the tool had was that that it could not reason about user competence. An experienced user, who would find the tool useless, could not be differentiated from a novice user for whom the tool is necessary. So it was popping up for all reasons an experienced user would find trivial. This gave a feel of condescension from Microsoft’s side for the users. Eventually Microsoft understood that their little animated character has been despised globally that they themselves started to tease him.
Zune when launched in November 2006, had one simple function. To kill Apple’s iPod and iTunes. Apple had sold over 100 million iPods and dominated the music download and multimedia market by the time Zune was launched. Ironically Zune’s market share never went beyond single digits while Apple’s iPods at times held nearly 75% of market share. There are many reasons why Zune failed. The most obvious one being the lack of commitment that the company showed towards Zune. The first instance of which was when the product was marketed. The ads not only could compete against the more powerful ones of Apple but also appealed only to a very small spectrum of music lovers. Also Microsoft did not bother to market the product outside US. Though the product was as good as the iPod, it was not better in any way. The player did not have anything special that the consumers would leave the iPod and buy it.
MSN SPOT Smart Watch
MSN SPOT (Smart Personal Object Technology), smart watch was launched in 2004 to display intelligent data. It was synched with a FM service to display news and weather reports. The watch was a failure because it was bulky and had poor design. Also it had a monthly subscription fee to be paid to use the MSN direct service without which the watch was useless. Because of these the watch never managed to get any market appeal. Why would consumers pay a high fee to get data in an ugly looking device when they could get the same data for minimal data charges? A case of poor pricing strategy.
Perhaps the best known flop from windows ever. Vista received heavy criticism due to issues with privacy, security, performance and driver support. Users expected a lot when Vista was announced and quite frankly Microsoft failed to deliver. Windows Vista was incompatible with the previous OS’s codes which made compatibility very difficult. Vista also was very slow compared to XP. And as windows XP was very successful, people who dint like Vista just rolled back their PCs to XP. Clever AD campaigns by Apple targeting Vista further added fuel to Vista’s already bludgeoning reputation.
Windows ME was another operating system which bombed in the market. It had various stability problems. An example of how bad windows ME was can be seen in the system restore feature. When run, the system would restore back even malwares the user had previously uninstalled. If disabled the malware would be removed but the previous restore points were lost. Microsoft launched ME between windows 98 and XP just to keep users excited about the upcoming XP. They just tweaked windows 98 a little but, added a few features and renamed it as ME. As soon as XP was launched people in droves moved away from ME to XP without looking back.
As the company’s mission statement states, the company has been driven by a need to help people and businesses realize their fullest potential through its products. It has by no means fallen short. Microsoft may have its set of massive failures but it has more than often launched revolutionary products which have changed the face of the industry. Some of its most successful product lines include the ubiquitous Windows operating system (XP and 7), the elite MS office suite, the Xbox gaming consoles with its revolutionary controller and the new windows phone OS (which has started eating into the indestructible Android’s market share).