60 percent skipping Vista, so Ballmer looks to Apple

Microsoft is trying to copycat its way to relevance again. It's not going to work.

A new survey by KACE, a systems management appliance company, suggests that 60 percent of those surveyed have no plans to deploy Microsoft Windows Vista, a 10 percent rise over a similar survey administered by KACE in November 2007. A full 42 percent of these are actively exploring Vista alternatives, with 11 percent having made the leap to alternative platforms like Mac OS X or Linux.

Forrester piles on:

Eighteen months after the release of Windows Vista, enterprise adoption is still in the single digits, and the majority of that seems to have come from upgrades of legacy Windows versions, not XP.

How does Microsoft hope to compete? By copying Apple, the company that is kicking its tail in terms of growth. It worked once before....

In an email sent by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to Microsoft employees, Ballmer argued that "the success of Windows is our number one job," while acknowledging that to compete with little Apple that it outsells "30-to-1" it will change the way it works with hardware companies to try to catch up.

Indeed, I've been hearing rumors for some time that Microsoft is planning to launch mobile phone interfaces to compete with Apple's iPhone, with a touch-screen UI that will make people "salivate." The problem with this game of catch-up is that it's just that: If you're not leading, you've got to beat the leader on price or some other feature. Witness Microsoft's Zune if you think it's good enough to come out with a good but not better competitor to Apple.

So, while Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth talks about being better than Apple, the best Ballmer can do is to aspire to be like Apple. It won't work.

Ballmer ended his missive to Microsoft employees by demanding that people believe that Microsoft is "the best in the world at doing software and nobody should be confused about this."

Unfortunately, they are, Mr. Ballmer. People are very confused on that point. They're doing all sorts of whacky things like using Linux for servers, Apple for mobile and desktops, MySQL for databases, etc. People have become very confused. They no longer think Microsoft writes the best software.

That, Mr. Ballmer, is Microsoft's big problem. Microsoft is no longer the provider of the industry's best software. Not by a long shot.