On February 20, 2015 Dan Kedmey wrote about Microsoft’s acquision of Acompli for the Time online magazine. He noted “Acompli is the best example of Microsoft’s new playbook: In a matter of weeks, Microsoft took Acompli’s popular email app and rebranded it as Outlook for iOS and Android, to rave reviews from the tech press.” (readers can view Kedmey’s complete article, titled This Is Microsoft’s New Plan to Invade Your Smartphone on the Time magazine web site). But this method of consuming acquisitions and spitting them back out as simply new examples of Microsoft branded products, contrasts with another famous acquisition, namely the Skype purchase. The Skype service has retained its own independent brand despite being a wholly owned component of the Microsoft revenue model. So why the change with Acompli? Further, does it make sense to try (I would argue for yet another time in a long string of unsuccessful attempts) to extend a well known enterprise computing brand name — the Outlook email client — into solidly, at best, BYOD territory? Acompli had a great app following among mobile computing consumers, many of which could likely care less about the email client they use at work.
Then there is the question of the “about face” Microsoft recently took on what looked to be a welcome change of direction towards “the norm” (meaning Chrome and Firefox) in web browser world. As Nathan Ingraham wrote on little more than a month ago on the Verge web site, in an article titled Microsoft officially announces Project Spartan, its new web browser for Windows 10, Redmond looked like it was going to change the web browser of choice for Windows 10 from Internet Explorer (IE) to something new and promising — the Spartan Browser. As any die hard IE user knows, the quirks and, perhaps, nonsensical differentiations built into Microsoft’s flagship web page browser, make little sense anymore. Market share is eroding day by day. So a change in a popular direction seemed to make a lot of sense.
But then on February 26, 2015, Microsoft back tracked. As Kurt Mackie wrote for the RedmondMag blog in an article titled Microsoft Blinks on Using Open Source Engine for Spartan Browser, one of the reasons given for the decision amounted to “‘we felt it was important to counter movement towards a monoculture on the Web.'” (please click the link just provided to read Mackie’s complete article). But could “monoculture” be a good think? Even for Microsoft?
Finally, there are a couple of realities about the present IE 11 browser on Windows 7 and the same browser on Windows 8.1 worth some consideration. In keeping with the point Microsoft just made about “monoculture”, and its determination to “counter” movement towards it, the feature sets of these two browsers are, in my opinion, radically dissimilar from Chrome and/or Firefox. These differences, once again in my opinion, are, perhaps, not for the best. Perhaps more worrisome is how my first thoughts about these features take me back to my original opinion about Windows 8 and touch computing on desktop machines in the first place — a big big stretch I did not care to make.
I kind of like the new Microsoft. The Microsoft looking to partner with everybody else. The one not trying so hard to stand out from the crowd. What about you?
Ira Michael Blonder
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