Will Microsoft Ever Be Cool Again?

Or was it ever – other than the stock price? Champion Assistants is based out of Kirkland, Washington, just a 15 minute drive to the Microsoft main campus in Redmond. With such close proximity and nearly everyone here working for the technological behemoth, I’m hesitant to criticize (they might be listening)! I actually don’t mind Microsoft applications, and haven’t encountered the problems that others complain of. The biggest issue I deal with is simply that Microsoft is not cool.

Just recently one of my clients asked me if I use a Mac, as he and everyone else at his tech company does. It may be peer pressure, but I knew my PC answer was not as sexy as his pretty Macs (but I do have an iPhone! I wanted to add). As a virtual assistant, this is a routine question, but I was surprised at how uncool I felt when I had to answer PC. Sure I have all the latest applications, but Office 2007 and Vista just aren’t all that interesting. For years I’ve wondered when Microsoft is going to be visionary again.

Marketing expert Maria Ross recently addressed the Microsoft cool factor in her blog post Making Microsoft Cool. While I agree Microsoft’s cool factor has a lot to do with their advertising or lack of advertising, I also believe Microsoft has simply not been a leader over the past 5 years or so, as it used to be. I think I miss Bill (is that so wrong?)!

Every once in a while I participate in one of Microsoft’s User Research studies where I go in and test some of their self-proclaimed coolest gadgets. A year or so ago one study was of their very cool latest technology of making calls over the internet and connecting a desktop phone to the computer to make calls. Hmmmm, I’d been using Skype for years doing this, and as for connecting a desktop phone to a computer, what’s a desktop phone? Don’t most people, even in offices, use cell phones nowadays? And if you are making calls using a computer why in the world would you ever connect a phone to your computer? I left that study baffled. Then there was the Zune study. I saw their latest and greatest ideas that Apple had been using in their iPods for years. Doing these studies became like a historical trip. But I was also aggravated. Why couldn’t such an experienced and resourceful IT company be ahead of the technology curve? I know they have some of the best and brightest working there (and also some of the most complex office politics I’ve ever heard of) so why can’t Microsoft rise again by offering visionary technologies ahead of the game? I would like to see this happen so I can let go of my Mac-envy!

Best,

Heather

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