Would You Like Fries With That?
Microsoft truly is the McDonald’s of operating systems. The software giant said yesterday that it has sold 60 million copies of Windows Vista this year and expects 1 billion people to be running some iteration of Windows by the end of the fiscal year. “The install base of Windows computers this coming 12 months will reach 1 billion,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said during his address at the company’s annual Financial Analyst Meeting yesterday. “If you stop and just think about that, parse that for a second, by the end of our fiscal year ’08, there will be more PCs running Windows in the world than there are automobiles, which is, at least to me, kind of a mind-numbing concept.”
I’ll say. Especially, if that number doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands of counterfeit copies running in China …
So having reached that one-billion-installed milestone, where does Microsoft intend to take its aging, and tremendously successful, business now? Same place Google and Apple are taking theirs. “We’re investing today in two new capabilities,” Ballmer said. “We are going to be an advertising company, and we are going to be a devices company.” Online advertising and consumer electronics, Ballmer explained, will someday rival desktop and server software as Microsoft’s biggest businesses. “We are going to have multiple competencies, and multiple business models living all in the same body, and it almost means they need to be modeled and thought about separately. And certainly as we think about them, we are dead-set and serious about being world class in each and every one of these four dimensions. … We’re bringing the same kind of vision and tenacity that is in our DNA that drove us into the enterprise business into consumer devices and online services. We are going to be an advertising company, and we are going to be a devices company.”
An interesting strategy, but one that didn’t exactly ignite investor enthusiasm. Microsoft shares continued to decline for a second day following its announcement.