The method to Microsofts madness

I was recently asked in a job interview, what my dream company to work for would be. My response “If you had asked me this 2 months ago i would have said Google, but today i would have to say Microsoft.” This response triggered the follow up question: “Why Microsoft?”

I proceeded to explain how in my opinion, Microsoft was a confused company, that lacked an innovative drive and had great ideas, but failed to see them through to commercialization, citing the courier tablet, and the 2 years it took between Windows Mobile 6 and Windows Mobile 6.5. I would be Microsofts savior – atleast in my mind! Fortunately for me i was talking to the individual on the Microsoft account.

So why does Microsoft come up with all these great concepts that it never releases? Why are there all these leaks of Windows products that never reach the hand of the consumer. For starters, Microsoft is not in the hardware business! Safe for the Xbox and a few other products, their core service is to provide solutions and services for other technology companies like HP, Samsung, etc to allow them to compete successfully in their industries. Lets say Samsung wants to get into the mobile space, and has to compete with Apple, or Android. Microsoft supplies them with the software they need so they can build devices that can compete in the market with the Apples and the Androids.

Usually companies try to keep their capabilities under lock and key, in fear of the competition rendering their products obsolete before they have reaped the benefits of being a first mover, or of their competitive advantage. Why then does Microsoft, a company in the fast track technology industry, where innovation takes place at such a rapid rate have so many leaks? Strategy!

Take the Microsoft Courier tablet that had a lot of consumers – myself included – salivating profusely. The concept along with videos of the interface was leaked to the public and then months later, the Courier was cancelled and the team fired. As consumers we moan and groan and its “Microsoft ruined another great product,” however, for Microsoft, this is a way of garnering demand for their tech services, solutions and products. Leaking concepts shows their clients, and potential customers what they are capable of developing using Microsofts products.

This is a pretty ingenious form of marketing, as not only does it demonstrate to potential clients, the possible demand for such products from the buzz generated, but it is also a cost effective method of getting their brand name out there. So the next time you see a leak about one of Microsofts products and start to think “lets hope this one doesn’t get ruined as well…” keep in mind, there is a strategy behind what Microsoft does, and its a good one!

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