Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

Microsoft FUD is SAD

Robert Scoble’s whine that all these horrible bloggers are cuddling up to Google whilst ignoring poor old Microsoft has to be the ultimate irony, doesn’t it?

Having worked as a tech journalist for many years I’ve heard a million times, competitors to Microsoft incessantly bitching about how the press only ever covers Microsoft products while ignoring their alternatives. Kinda sucks when the shoe is on the other foot, hey?

That simple reversal would be ironic enough were it not for the fact that Microsoft very deliberatly and expertly dined out on this marketing advantage that it enjoyed. We used to call it the FUD factor, FUD referring to Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.

Back when it was the only game in town, Microsoft was famous for pre-announcing products. As soon as someone at Microsoft got back to the office with a new product idea scrawled on the back of a napkin, Microsoft would announce it. Often, not only did it used to talk about the coming release, but also the one after that.

The reason for doing this is that if Microsoft was talking about a feature or capability that it was working on, it worked as a disuader to purchase rival software. So yes, maybe NetWare could do this and this and this, but why would you buy it when Microsoft says that its next version of NT will do exactly the same thing. Of course, Microsoft was infamous for missing its ship dates but that hardly mattered, because it had thrown enough FUD into the air to stop people from genuinely considering alternatives.

The problem for Microsoft is not only is it’s no longer the only choice on the block. It’s no longer the one that has the media entranced. That’s clearly Google. The fact is people can’t get enough of Google so journalists and bloggers will continue to write about them because it rates. It’s just how media works.

Yet, Microsoft hasn’t updated its marketing strategy, to fit with its new place in the world. Let’s take the Office Live announcement that Scoble is talking about. Microsoft announces Office Live with absolutely nothing behind it, except a landing page and a couple of snippets like the Domain Management capability. It promises that it will be able to do this and that when Office Live launches sometime next year.

It made headlines for a day or so, but because there was very little substance to what it had to say, few journalists or bloggers got enraptured with what it had to say.

Microsoft doesn’t have FUD power anymore. Pre-announcing products without even opening up to beta these days only achieves SAD – scepticism, ambivalence and disinterest.

By pre-announcing Office Live, though, it did achieve one thing. It publicised its roadmap to Google and every other competitor in this space. It handed Google over what should be top-secret, classified intelligence about what it’s going to announce and approximately when. The Google marketing team would have then had the opportunity to go away and draw up a counter-marketing strategy to effectively blunt anything Microsoft is likely to come up with when Office Live does launch.

I have no doubt that this latest announcement from Google is absolutely a part of that Office Live counter-strategy. The difference being when Google chose to talk about it, it had something real, even if its just a closed beta program and a single reference customer.

The blog bleating of Robert Scoble and also Reeves here would have had Google’s marketing team giving high-fives all round. They amount to nothing more than an admission that Google is out-marketing Microsoft, as well as further re-inforcement of the fact that Microsoft is just not sexy anymore.

Microsoft, your FUD days are over. It’s time to tear up your marketing manuals and start again from scratch. We’ve all moved on, it’s about time you guys did as well.

Filed under: Uncategorized

10 Responses

  1. robotlol says:

    “The problem for Microsoft is not only is it’s no longer the only choice on the block. ”
    ^ whole blog post down the drain.

    it never was, apple had the headstart (as in, first to the market and had the marketshare/popularity) yet they were overtaken by micrsoft due to bad choices.

  2. Dragon256 says:

    “It’s time to tear up your marketing manuals and start again from scratch”.

    I can wait to see what they come up with !!! – perhaps they should do the same with Windows too !!

  3. Shii says:

    This is a brilliant piece of writing. I was submitting it to Digg (for the second time!) and found an old New York Times opinion piece that echoes your opinion:

    http://www.techenclave.com/forums/google-this-is-microsoft-still-bully-3723.html

  4. directorblue says:

    Good (“Goog”?) thoughts.

    I speculated a while back that Google would offer corporations an “Office appliance” akin to its search appliance. In other words, it would deliver Office functionality in a nice yellow box that just plugs into your LAN.

    For companies too large or too paranoid to utilize hosted services, a series of email, search, and office appliances threaten to transform the landscape of enterprise desktop software. And MSFT has indeed not changed its playbook to account for this new era of open-source and a new competitor with vast resources and (perhaps) smarter people.

  5. Cober says:

    I went over to Reeve’s blog. It was filled with ‘throw us a bone’, and alot of people complaining about how everything from Google is beta. So I was going to post something along the lines of you excellent article here. But, in order to actually post a comment, you need to have the NET framework installed. Forget that! Oh well, let them continue to wonder why. Of course, by requireing the NET framework, they are reducing the pool of comments on their articles, and so getting a smaller view of the world.

  6. english says:

    I am highly sceptical that you were ever a ‘tech journalist’, based on your liberal and non-sensical use of commas, and confusion around when to use it’s and its. Learn English first, blog second!

  7. A. Pedant says:

    “Yet, Microsoft hasn’t updated it’s marketing strategy, to fit with it’s new place in the world.”

    The word “it’s” means “it is”… to indicate that an “it” posesses something, use “its”, as in, “its marketing strategy,” and “its new place in the world.”

    I wouldn’t have bothered, except you make that mistake twice in one sentence.😛

  8. […] Alejandro asked in a comment today whether yesterday’s Microsoft FUD is SAD post had been deleted? I checked and it appeared to be there. Then Crono Cr@cker commented to say that it definitely had been deleted. […]

  9. Oh, please.
    Everyone knows we invented the GUI, not Mac.
    Mac sucks and went out of business in the 90s.

    Everyone knows that. And I will bury google.

    Anyone listening?

  10. Alejandro says:

    The fact that Mac sucks (if it does…) doesn’t mean they were in fact the one who invented the GUI, you just took it. You think I’m wrong? then why did M$ paid the apple back in the 80’s (not sure when)? good question isn’t it? there you go…

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