Microsoft is sinking in a sea of Android

by: Nate SwannerFebruary 22, 2013

microsoft Credit: Voxpelli/Flickr

The once mighty Microsoft is in a bit of peril as of late. Windows 8 is widely panned, Surface tablets are selling slowly, and they’re losing footholds once considered intrinsic to their success. Much of their issues involve the success of Android, and having BlackBerry return to the fold won’t help, either. Microsoft has some major concerns, and time to remedy the issues is running short.

Windows 8 laptops-w600

Where does Microsoft have an Advantage?

It’s not all bad in the world of Microsoft. They have quite a bit going for them, which is what carries them through. The issue is, many of those things they rely on for support right now are declining markets, or have very worthy contenders. You can’t win ‘em all, but Microsoft is still dominating on a few fronts.


Go to any store that sells PCs, and you will be inundated with Windows machines. Sure, Apple and Google have kiosks, but Microsoft has the store. You really have no viable option in purchasing a full fledged non-Apple PC other than to use Microsoft at this point. With Windows being so widely used, Microsoft still has quite a foothold in this market. In fact, they dominate it thoroughly.


Microsoft Office is, hands down, the best solution for PC document creation. Office has the most functionality, and is something power-users (especially those creating spreadsheets) need on a daily basis. There are other options available, but none even sniff the air Office is breathing right now. This is a cornerstone product for Microsoft, and rightfully so.


In a traditional business setting, most companies still utilize Microsoft products. They use Office, Outlook, and they run Windows machines. It’s so ingrained in the culture of “computing”, enterprise customers rarely think twice about it. Microsoft has become adept at giving business what they’ve become accustomed to, and most IT professionals balk at considering anything else.


The XBox

Iconic at this point, the XBox is synonymous with gaming. The Playstation has taken a spot in the King’s court, and the XBox has no reason to be concerned with usurpation. It does everything the Playstation or (ugh) the Nintendo Wii can, and then some. Kinect is a revelation, and XBox live is way out in front of its counterparts. For living room gaming, the XBox is simply your best option.


That’s right, Microsoft owns Skype. The video conferencing tool that is as synonymous with the act as “Google it” is to search, is a leader in the field. Make calls, send messages, or video conference in one program… now that’s pretty great. Making it available on any platform was a smart move by Microsoft, and having the Kinect utilize it will be sublime.


Where they’ve gone wrong

As much as Microsoft has going for them, they’ve made some key blunders. While not time for panic, it is definitely time for Bill Gates to start considering just what he’s going to do to right his ship. There are rough waters ahead, and Microsoft is having issues with calmer seas.

The PC is dying

We are a mobile society, and we like our devices to be. The PC, even an ultrabook, is not convenient to carry around all day. My phone or tablet, however, is perfect. I can do most things on my mobile device I can on a PC, and take it anywhere. I’m informed, in touch, and on the go. I’m starting to wonder why I even need a PC, mobile productivity is so good.

Windows 8

For many, myself included, Windows 8 isn’t even Windows. Windows 8 took everything we liked about Windows and kicked it in the gut. I understand the purpose is to be a cross-platform OS, but the execution is just… bad. I actually enjoy the “Metro” UI, so it’s not that they changed what I was looking at… they changed how I do things, and not for the better this time.

The smartphone

I’ve pointed this out before: Microsoft beat everyone to the smartphone gates, so there is no reason they should be looking up to anyone. Their failure wasn’t with concept, it was in execution. Rather than be innovative and think of the best way a phone could actually be “smart”, they tried to run a pretty straight-up Windows program on a phone. For a plethora of reasons, this just isn’t feasible. Plain and simple, Microsoft failed to understand mobile… probably because they didn’t take it seriously.

microsoft v google

Why Android and Google are winning

It’s pretty simple, really: Google gets it. I don’t pretend to fully understand all the nuances of how a gigantic company like Microsoft or Google operates, but the fact is that Google makes the necessary changes while Microsoft trudges along the same old path, so we know it’s possible to adapt.


Google considers itself a “mobile first” company, which is pretty much how we live our lives. Rather than insist on telling us how and when to access information, play games, and work… Google just tried to better understand how we want to do all of that. Even if we go back to the heyday of BlackBerry, Microsoft still didn’t seem to get mobility. They were happy to let RIM handle the mobile stuff, leaving them to concentrate on the standalone computers, with the software and whatnot. Well, RIM BlackBerry is dying, and web apps are quickly becoming the new software.


Again, Microsoft has some excellent services on offer… but they’re costly. Office 2013 is $140… for one license! Google Drive is free… and collaborative. I can access Google Drive from any device, and even create new documents. Everything is stored in the cloud, and available any time. Skydrive will do a lot, but it’s just not as well-rounded on mobile as it should be.

There are also the other services, such as Google Maps or Navigation, you get with Android. I know, I know… Microsoft has Nokia maps, but it’s just not as good, and probably never will be. Those services are also third party apps, and could be gone at any time. With Google owning and operating all services, you know you’ll always have them.


Does Microsoft have a place?

Sure they do! Their place is, unfortunately, the dwindling PC market. That sector is shrinking, and the advent of the Chromebook (especially for enterprise) only hurts their standing. Microsoft’s place in the mobile landscape is entirely too small, and a lot of that has to do with the cost of their devices. A top-end Surface Pro Tablet with that really cool keyboard will set you back about $1,000. I can buy a Chromebook, Nexus 7, Nexus 4, and have money left over for accessories with that same $1,000.

Microsoft has said they are not considering a “Plan B” should their efforts with mobile fail, and that’s probably not a wise choice. The Surface, like all other Microsoft practises, is out of touch with the world around it. I freak out if I have to spend $1,000 to get my car fixed… you think I’m going to drop that on a tablet?! Even with the small concessions I make here and there with Google Drive versus Office, it’s worth it to have a few extra bucks in my pocket.

chromebook pixel (1)


We’re a mobile first society, which is where anyone who is serious about attracting tech consumers needs to be. Microsoft has failed at this, and their market share reflects that. We want apps, games, and services… not the ability to create a really kick-ass spreadsheet. There will be Office for Android at some point, but if other Microsoft mobile offerings are any indication, I don’t look for this to be very user-friendly.

Let’s go back to the beginning of the article, and consider the other side of some of those arguments. The PC? The Chromebook may start to kill that off entirely. Console gaming? Ouya and GameStick are poised to take over your living room. Skype? Google hangouts has all the same functionality… for free. The problem is that even when Microsoft is winning, they’ve still got to look over their shoulder at the little green robot.. and he’s pretty fast.

  • Agreed (with everything except xbox vs PS). PS is bigger worldwide. Xbox is bigger only in America.

    • MasterMuffin

      But Xbox rules (and I have a ps3 >.<)

      • xoj_21

        no ur are shill.

        • MasterMuffin

          Mine are shill? What??

    • Holmes108

      Last figures I saw showed Xbox ahead globally. But it was only a couple million apart. Given that all we get are estimates, I’d essentially call it a tie. That being said, if you look compared to marketshare last gen, its been a fair bit of domination since then. But really, the article didn’t mention sales anyways.

  • MasterMuffin

    “I can buy a Chromebook, Nexus 7, Nexus 4, and have money left over for accessories with that same $1,000”
    Then you have a picture of the pixel under that costs OVER 1300$ :)

  • Nebsif

    I’d be happy to see windows die. Its a shitty software we are so used to that we dont even take notice when it starts freezing and lagging.

    My phone runs smoother than my i5 Win7 PC after 6 months, I have so much more options to easily customize my android than windows and most of the interfaces and apps are much more.. uhm, fluid.

    • Otto Gunter

      If your i5 is freezing and lagging, quit going to sketchy websites to watch porn, something is obviously wrong.

  • Andrew Mezzi

    I don’t think that they can hold onto the desktop much longer, either. Sure, people have some specialty programs that they use, but for the most part, people use their computer for 5 basic things: web browsing, gaming, writing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, listening to music, and organizing pictures. Any operating system can do all of those. At this point, everyone who is going to get a Mac has one, and Apple’s desktop market share is going to stay the same. Traditional Linux distros like Ubuntu, Mint, and Fedora don’t come preinstalled on enough computers to catch on. Chrome OS could beat Windows, though. It can do all 5 of the basic computer tasks except photo management. Although online photo platforms like Flickr and Picasa exist, they aren’t as good as desktop counterparts. I predict that in 5 years, Chrome will be the standard desktop and laptop platform.

    • xoj_21

      it can do photo managenment picasa is built in, and there are online photo editors that work well. also if google make it happen android version will be ported to chrome

      • Andrew Mezzi

        Yes, it can do Picasa, but Picasa only offers 5 GB of free storage shared with Google Drive, and I take that many photos in a month. I don’t feel like looking it up, but Flickr offers something similar. It costs $60 a year to get 100 GB, which seems reasonable like a reasonable amount of shortage to me. This isn’t too expensive, but I can manage a virtually unlimited amount of photos on my computer running Ubuntu. Also, it’s slow to upload photos. On an average hike, I can take almost a gigabyte of photos. This is much more than most people, but many people will still take a few hundred megabytes. This takes forever to upload. This is the ISP’s fault, not Google or Yahoo’s, but it is still a limitation.

    • Jason Deveau

      Screw Chrome OS. Windows 8 pro on a tablet with blutooth keyboard/mouse. Now 1 device can be all of Desktop, laptop and tablet. Microsoft is the first to make this happen. In time the Windows app store will fill out so lets not go there, its 4 months old.

      • Andrew Mezzi

        Once web apps get to the point that desktop apps are at now, or more offline Chrome apps are produced, there won’t be any reason to use Windows over Chrome. I think that in Android 5.0 or 5.1, Google will let you dock Android and use Chrome, similar to what Ubuntu for Android is going to be, which will allow your tablet to function as a desktop as well. Chrome apps are written in JavaScript, while Windows apps are in C++, C#, and Visual Basic. JavaScript is much easier and quicker to develop in, making Chrome more appealing to developers. To an end user, Chrome is much faster and more secure than Windows.

        Also, being first doesn’t mean anything. BlackBerry was first in smartphones. Apple and Xerox created graphical operating systems before Microsoft. MySpace and AOL both came before Facebook. When someone makes a product first, they get stuff wrong. Then, everybody else knows what not to do. When Apple and Google start merging their desktop and mobile operating systems, they will learn what not to do based on Microsoft’s example.

  • xoj_21

    xbox is dead, ps4 is amazing they only thingi t have for it microsoft will try to sell it cheaper.

    • Holmes108

      lol, but you called the other guy a shill? lol.

  • williamworlde

    Interesting article Mr. Swanner.

    I take some of my prescient cues from those brilliant sci-fi writers responsible for the Blade Runners, Minority Reports, and Demolition Mans (Men? No). We are living in some of those technologies right now and becoming more embedded in them. Some of it is good, a great deal of it is absolutely frightening.

    I was very grateful to Microsoft because due to its affordability it allowed plebes like me to learn computers and perhaps even earn a living from them. Then, “like the whole world”, I began hating/distrusting them because they became too big/dominant. Now, believe it or not, I’m dreading their “demise”. I really hope that they adapt/evolve to save us from that data-mining juggernaut, Google. Who would have thunk that ANYONE would EVER make a statement like that?! Interesting times we live in.
    Remember Skype is not MS-built technology. They are big and rich and alike other big and rich organizations, they can continue to accumulate other innovators and evolve themselves. I wouldn’t write them off just yet.

    I like my Android phone. I think it is great ecosystem – but in its current incarnation, ONLY for my phone.
    I have a sub-3lb. touchscreen W8 (upgraded to Pro) laptop; I absolutely love it. But, MS did some rather stupid things with the new OS. Stupid. I’m not going to go into those.
    Next, for my ultimate portability and productivity, I’ll get a WRT tablet, NOT Android – for the same reasons you pointed out why MS still currently rules the work world.

    Now obviously, anything you or I say can change in the blink of a technology eye. We’ll just have to wait and see, but this is how I see/live it at this time in my life.

  • waruza

    did I tell that I can not use my credit in gmail on android devices, which I am using right now. stuck on hc otherwise my 3G will not work.

    how is it clever chaps at google have ‘call phone’ for windows, ios and Linux and nothing for their android? no gv this side of the world. android good for us and Ms good for the world!

  • ninjacut

    Completely one sided and fanboi article, and grossly wrong understanding as well. Have you even used Windows 8, Skydrive and other services to strongly predict about Microsoft’s future? Other than phones, Android has zero impact in Enterprises at this time.

    Firstly about PC, it is not dying but spawning into new form factors that are better in consumption like the tablets. Tablets are not going to replace PC’s when it comes to creation, but for consumption. Do you know how many PC’s are used to develop Android applications? How many Android devices are actually used to develop Android applications?
    Talking of Windows 8, firstly it is a full desktop OS even in its ARM version. They have limited 3rd party desktop applications for a valid reason, but it is still the same OS underneath. In comparison Android is a Phone OS, now extended to work better on Tablet and in future may come close to a full Desktop OS. So it still does not compare with Windows 8 but more like Windows Phone 8

    I like how you conveniently compare Google drive to paid version of Office and not Skydrive which is free, more space and ability to create and edit office documents better than Google.
    And look at the history, even with sub 2% market share Apple did quite well for decades. Microsoft already had 95% share in desktop, and its tablet and phone share is bound to increase slowly. Android was not successful because it was good, but because it was free for the mobile providers and manufacturers.
    So death of Microsoft is a very stupid prediction.

    • agree with you.
      I’m sick of PC is dying thing.
      PC can never replace tablet, imo both iPad & Android Tablet basically has os with limited capacity.
      Tablets are not going to replace PC’s when it comes to creation, but for consumption.< totally agree with this.
      Tablets are basically full of toy apps.

      • kascollet

        Perfectly right. No Android/iOS/Windows Phone/Blackberry come close to real creating abilities of personal computers, be it Windows, macOS or Linux.
        Personal computers still FEED mobile OSes.

        • I disagree, I’d say 90% of what a PC is traditionally used for by the average Joe can be done on the devices you mentioned. Remember as a %, very few people use Visual Studio, 3D Max or some high end app. The overwhelming use is just web browsing, emails and low end games.

      • In a very general sense it is declining. Things that I would normally do on my W8 PC I do on other devices.. It’s just not overnight like a lot of people are saying.

    • On a Clear Day

      I agree, the reports of Microsoft and the PC going down the tubes brings to mind Mark Twain’s wonderful response to an obituary mistakenly written about his demise, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

      There are many versions of this quote incidentally, to see the original note written in 1897 go here:

      If I want something to carry around something for quick access that is bigger than a phone because it can help facilitate a presentation or to read a document, I will take along a tablet; an Android.

      But, if I want to do serious work; manage my business; work in Photoshop on images in layers, etc, create PDFs, etc. – I will use a PC.

      I totally eschew Apple products – over priced, over hyped, locked in ecosystem, corporate policy I can’t stand, etc., etc.

      The value to dollar ration for a PC is so much better, the range of options as well as and the availability of serious work related programs for Windows makes it an easy decision. And, for those who say, but if you are in the “creative world” you need Apple, you need a Mac – Pah Leez, anything you can do on a Mac you can do on a PC and usually for a whole lot less money.

  • kascollet

    I like that Apple-free dream world you describe :-)
    How about making another article based on the real one ?

    • mrband


    • Andrew Mezzi

      Apple isn’t going to become more popular on desktops. The people who are going to get Macs have them, and their market share will stay the same. The smartphone market is saturated in the US and Europe, but it is growing extremely quickly in China, India, and Brazil. Apple has a low market share in those countries. Smart TV’s haven’t caught on yet, and I don’t know what will happen with them. Apple doesn’t even seem like it has plans for smart glasses yet. Apple won’t die off, but I don’t think its market share will grow.

      • kascollet

        That’s right but you forgot one strategic market between smartphones and PCs : tablets.

  • tBs_Battousai

    Microsoft should have a great mapping solution, autoroute is a great program, why is it so hard to turn that into a mobile app?

  • Greg

    It’s hard to tell whether this writer is serious or trolling.

    • Mike Reid

      3.5″ Floppy disk LOL.

      Couldn’t find a 5.25″ (or 8″) floppy pic ?

  • magenta

    you forgot about MS Visual Studio.
    for programmer, that’s the most productive IDE to date.

    sure, I’ve used xcode, eclipse, netbeans, borland, and even notepad with command-line vc/tc/gcc (if that can be considered an ‘IDE’ :D).
    but in terms productivity, nothing beat Visual Studio, so far.

    well, I dont give a s**t about win8, office, xbox, skype, or wp8. there’re lot of better OS and lot of free office app out there.

    • Lowry Brooks

      Eclispe is pure crap ill tell you that.- The ADT bundle at least.

    • Andrew Mezzi

      Visual Studio is made for Windows development, though. If Windows and Windows Phone die out, it will be pretty useless. Eclipse is the de facto IDE for Android, since it has the ADT. Xcode is the IDE for Apple devices. Visual Studio is almost useless for developing for a non-Microsoft platform.

  • I agree with everything in this article except the take on Windows 8. I think it’s much better. Change isn’t always bad. Everything else is spot on though.

    I remember Steve Balmer’s reaction to the iPhone. He doesn’t get it.

  • ericshmerick

    “Surface is selling slowly” WHAT? I searched high and low for weeks. Finally got one today (128gig). What are you talking about? BTW, it’s incredible.

  • paxmos

    Today wasn’t Microsoft day Ay m8?….

  • I disagree about Skype.. It’s not the de-facto video conferencing tool. It’s also a pile of rubbish compared to some competitors. For example, the UI is very old, it takes up 128mb of RAM when idle and does not support some functions that WLM did.

  • Jason Deveau

    I’ll point out that Windows 8 is a huge step in the right direction. I use it and love it. It functions basically the same as Windows 7, with some small annoyances and an extra click when shutting down. There are numerous new features I missed when I returned to 7 for a few months. The only reason Windows 8 is slow to catch on is that Windows 7 was so great. When the Windows App store fills out better, I think it will be big in the tablet market. Considering it will run everything I’m used to using on my desktop in addition to the apps and app store.