Hey Ballmer, FUD Doesn’t Work Anymore

I think we all know about this Microsoft business tactic, but if not, read up on FUD. In this little exercise, I’m going to go through a couple examples:

The Slatabletbook
Once the Apple rumor engine shifted into high gear around September, Microsoft announced the Courier. This is actually a cool concept so they do deserve some credit. Not surprisingly, the project was led by J. Allard, the only person doing anything worthwhile over there. This is just a reference design, who knows when it will ship and by whom.[1]

When CES rolled around and a Courier prototype wasn’t ready, Ballmer showed off the “HP Slate” which is to be available “sometime this year”. Hmm, wonder where they got the name “Slate“.

Capacitive Multi Touch
The iPhone’s had it for almost three years. Oh yeah, Windows Mobile 7 will have it in the second half of 2010, or was that February, or will WM 6.6 have it, or 6.5.3, or something else, yeah.

Media Streaming
Apple just bought Lala and is building a massive data center in North Carolina. Seems like media streams are just around the corner, gotta announce something. Yeah, the next Zune HD firmware update, expected sometime in spring, will have music streaming from “the cloud”.

Game Consoles
Wow, in 2009 Nintendo almost sold more Wiis than Microsoft and Sony, combined. Maybe that newfangled controller has potential. We’ve got one too, Project Natal, to be released “Holiday 2010″.

Search Engines (err, Decision Engines)
This doesn’t really fall under the FUD department, more into the “staged demo” depo. Bing is good, rivals and even beats Google in some categories. There is just one fatal flaw that was never announced: The Bing Indexer Sucks. Basically, it boils down to:

  1. The MSNBot is slow as it does a long process of semantic analysis
  2. Bing pretties up areas like Auto & Travel to hide their small indeces
  3. “Real-Time” results come from structured data provided by partners

This choice quote sums it up pretty well:

While Bing has a lot of great features, it continues to struggle with the same issue previous incarnations of the service have. The actual index size, and the corresponding relevant results that come with those searches for the less popular queries, pales in comparison to what Google and Yahoo offer.

As Steve Jobs says, Real Artists Ship. Microsoft seems to have its hands in almost every pie there is, sometimes this FUD is to thwart a project as in the case of the slate, but more often than not, it’s probably to determine if a particular market exists before investing heavily into it. Either way, announcing so much vaporware is turning MS into something of a laughing stock.

Announcing something a year out is just ludichrist. Technological change is accelerating at a rate close to Moore’s Law so indeed the Singularity Is Near.

Disclaimer: I’m an Apple fanboy, so am quite tainted.

[1] Apple never pre-announces anything unless their hand is forced. This is what we saw with the iPhone and this is why the rumored Apple device (RAD) will be announced in the same way. The RAD will include wireless technology that must be approved by the FCC.

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