Friday, January 15, 2010

Microsoft: Please surrender, already.

Why is Microsoft stock following the same trajectory as Apple and Google?  Apple is poised to re-monetize the entire print media business, and Google has so many green field opportunities in front of it, it feels comfortable in threatening to leave the world's single largest market.  Meanwhile in Redmond, the failures just keep piling up:
  • Bing is proving to be an absolute waste of 127 million dollars, with the highly pumped initiative actually LOSING marketshare months after launch. 
  • Windows Mobile had a three year lead on every other major mobile platform yet it already seems like a bygone era of computing. 
  • Zune is so last year, it's rediculous.
  • XBox is still the dominant game platform and media room gateway appliance.  But MS has practically layed out the red carpet for competitors by announcing that they have no new hardware planned for that space in the foreseeable future.
  • Xbox Live Marketplace can't find a single movie to sell me worth watching.  Downloading a movie from there takes about a DAY! 
  • Windows operating system is under threat from Chrome.
  • Tablet support, which MS perfected to an extreme well beyond any market demand is about to be tipped over the cliff by whatever Apple tablet gets announced in upcoming weeks.
  • Sharepoint continues to be a half-pregnant idea with lots of potential.  But the potential is being eaten up by third-parties.  It looks like MS has basically thrown in the towel on this one.   
So what should MS do?  Here's my 2-cents:
  1. Get a new president.  Sorry, Balmer, but no one deserves an eighth chance.
  2. Focus on the enterprise.  The brand name is too tarnished in the consumer space and you clearly lack the innovation skills needed to hit a home run here.  Give it up. 
  3. Spin off Xbox.  Otherwise you might accidentally "fix" it.
  4. Buy RIM and DON'T rebrand it.  Don't even visit.
  5. Right-size your assets.  Given your thin competencies, you have more cash than you appropriately invest . Offer generous dividends to your shareholders or find other ways of returning capital to investors before you simply burn through it. 
  6. Integrate a hardware and software solution that creates the ideal corporate work solution.  Make a One-Note appliance that is light, cheap, secure and pen-based.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Lexmark Pro205 All-in-one Review

I love the concept of a wireless all in one.  In addition to wanting it to serve multiple computers, I was looking forward to being able to scan mail quickly and easily without having to be working at a computer at the time.  However, ultimately, I'm a bit disappointed with this purchase.

I was able to set it up on the first XP computer with ease, and it found my wireless network without problem.  However the CD drivers and the online update to those drivers failed repeatedly on a windows 7 machine.  Later, when I plugged the unit into the win 7 machine, Windows was able to install drivers correctly without the aid of the CD. 

The paper handling on the machine is pretty much useless.  For some reason it's exceptionally ease to "over insert" paper into the feeder.  Any paper with the slightest fold causing it to have a bit of lift on the leading edge is automatically considered "over inserted" complete with beeping and flashing warnings.  This is terrible, because any mail that arrives inevitably has a fold in it, so it's really no better than a plan flatbed scanner.

Also, I think the designers really missed a lot of great opportunities when they put this machine together.  It's on a network, so why not just scan the document and then email it me.  That would ensure that I don't need to have a computer turned on, and would also mean that I can automatically keep an archive of scanned documents on the web.  Instead, my choices are to scan document to either a memory card or a program on a running computer.  You can configure which programs will accept scanned files but it's awkward and, of course, the computer needs to be turned on at the time.

The memory card feature is another missed opportunity.  Since the machine is basically always on, it would make sense to have the memory device show up as a shared drive on the network.  But it doesn't.  Sneaker-net is the only way to move the file to your computer, and that assumes your computer has a memory card reader.  I wish you could hook a usb drive into the machine and have it work as a shared drive. 

I haven't done much printing or copying yet, so I'll leave those topics to others.  Cheers.

Follow Up, Jan 14: Okay, I've done some printing now.  Not impressed.  The machine seems to have very few sensors following the plight of paper jams.  It doesn't stop printing until the printhead literally cannot move, so instead of one page to remove, there are multiple pages crammed into the machine like some sort of oragami interstate pile up.