“Do one thing, and do it well” was the recipe for success given by chewing gum godfather Mr Wrigley. It worked for him. He could have added – know what that thing is.
Microsoft do one thing and do it well. They make business software and sell it to businesses. There is a lot of money in this. Microsoft’s problem is that they don’t recognize that this is what they do well. Microsoft has a self-image as a cool company that make tools actual real people, including young people and cool people, are delighted to use and pay money for, like Apple, or Microsoft in 1985. This delusion leads them to do things like try to sell phones to young people, try to sell weird functional PC-tablets, try to get the fictional verb ‘to Bing’ included in the Oxford English Dictionary, try to sell music players, try to stop home users pirating their software, rename Hotmail and MSN Messenger to try and promote their other ‘cool, fun’ web services. Occasionally they have some large amount of success selling something to people who aren’t purchasing managers, like Windows 95 (which due to disproportionate hype was apparently bought by people without computers who didn’t want to miss out), or the XBox. Unfortunately this kind of thing just encourages Microsoft to take all the money they make from Microsoft Excel and throw it at a bunch of dumb projects.
Ask a young, cool person who uses Microsoft products (if you can find one) what they think of Microsoft and they will tell you they hate it. Ask a small business owner and they will tell you they freaking love Microsoft, who gives them all the great, affordable, simple tools they use everyday. Microsoft needs to focus on the people who love them, there is nothing as uncool as someone trying too hard to be cool.