On the Current State of Microsoft

I wanted to write this post for a long time but I’ve been under the influence of Kool-Aid for many days. However, having calmed down, I’ll say this and probably cause a rift in the very fabric of the universe: Microsoft is doing almost everything right these days.

For the previous five years, I’ve been highly critical of Microsoft for a number of reasons, to a great extent because of how it worked with the SharePoint community. I was right, and history is proving that every day.

Since the end of the Ballmer era, however, Microsoft has taken an almost 180 degree turn, shifting from a focus on the nearest squirrel (FOCUS, MIKE! THERE IS NO SQUIRREL!) to getting back to the roots that made it great a decade or two ago, that of catering to the highly skilled IT professional as its core audience.

Microsoft seems to have realized once again that to build something great, you need an amazing foundation first. That foundation comes from its technical audience. Those people in return will be champions of Microsoft, either through promoting what they now perceive as a company that cares for their well-being (as opposed to just sucking the joy of life out of everyone for the sake of profits), or from building software and solutions that make Microsoft products and services valuable and the preferred option.

I’ve been doing a lot of development on multiple platforms lately. At my level, platform is about as relevant to what I do as the address of a pizza delivery. It’s something you look up, go there, do your job, and move on. One is pretty much the same as the next.

I thoroughly enjoy developing on the Microsoft platform. Visual Studio is leagues ahead of the rest. The maturity of .NET compared to Java (or heavens forbid Objective-C) is beyond description. Working with IntelliJ and Android Studio is like going back to the mid-90s; it’s slow, clunky, and feels like you’re developing with handcuffs. XCode is as pleasant as hanging upside-down from your testicles. I mean, who the f* comes up with the idea that in order to build software, you need a certain type of hardware? Apple does. And certain BDSM mistresses, I’m sure.

Microsoft’s challenge now is to keep a steady course. I don’t want to build Windows Phone (or Windows 10) apps, simply because there is no audience. The money isn’t there. The audience isn’t there. Build an iOS app, and the fanbois will buy it like it’s crack cocaine. Build a Windows app and it’s like a fart; only those closest to you will even notice, and it’s irrelevant a few moments later.

If Microsoft manages to keep it’s renewed focus on the foundations of its business, I’m confident that the audience will arrive. If it falters and goes back to its later Ballmer era ideas of sucking as much money as possible out of incompetent idiots, then they will fail.

Where does this leave SharePoint? I’m happy to say, I don’t care. SharePoint 2016 is coming out. I’ve been known for the previous decade as the person who dug into every single detail of upcoming versions. I barely know that it’s scheduled to arrive this year, and learning that is about as much attention as I’m going to give it.

SharePoint is dead or dying. It’s not part of Microsoft anymore. There are some ideas that just have a time and a place and you should move on after that, and SharePoint passed that time and place in early 2012. From then, it’s just a long hill down towards oblivion.

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Bjørn Furuknap

I previously did SharePoint. These days, I try new things to see where I can find the passion. If you have great ideas, cool projects, or is in general an awesome person, get in touch and we might find out together.

7 thoughts on “On the Current State of Microsoft”

  1. Given this, you might consider changing your bio brief: “I do SharePoint. When I’m not doing SharePoint, I sleep, and then I dream about SharePoint…”

  2. Would be interesting to have you expand on this comment: “SharePoint is dead or dying. It’s not part of Microsoft anymore.”

    Why do you feel SharePoint is dead? Do you mean the basis for its existence has eroded, it’s growing into a part of a larger capability, or you think there are other competing products or platforms that will soon challenge the very domain SharePoint has long dominated?

    The insight would be particularly useful to those that continue to base their career and/or passion on Microsoft’s stack. Do you specify reasons, or are you just bored?

      1. That would be a great way to start, yes 🙂

        I’ve been saying that SharePoint is dying since mid 2012 after seeing how disappointing the 2013 version is. Now that it’s more and more clear that the next version will continue to disappoint, there’s no way that SharePoint can survive.

        From a career perspective, that may or may not be a bad thing, but it is certainly something to take into account. The people that will make money on SharePoint are already doing so. The rest will try and fail or simply move elsewhere.

        1. As a SharePoint developer I was more than a little disconcerted that Microsoft put out a sign that said “Your code not welcome here”. Then they stripped some power-user friendly tools and stopped developing new features like social as soon as it was released. I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed.

          I think they just want it to absorb into Office 365 and disappear from view like an unwanted step-child.

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