Windows 7 Reviews and Feedbacks is Microsoft Reputation back on track

Having had to finally get a new PC after 4 years from Dell I opted for the 64 Bit Windows 7 hoping I had not made a mistake.  After only 48 hours I have to say the is the best thing to come out of Microsoft for a while.

It maybe that my expectation dropped dramatically after Vista but this operating system so far seem very quick and intuitive.

The Windows 7 is controlled mainly from in its Taskbar – especially in the Start menu and System Tray. Vista gave the Start menu a welcome redesign; in Windows 7, the Taskbar and the System Tray get a thorough makeover.

So will the more positive than negative feedback be enough to sell more windows 7, sure some reviews have not been totally positive but the overwhelming consensus is that windows 7 is moving in the right direction.  Lets see what happens with sales in 2010

Microsoft Weekus Horribilis

First is was Steve Ballmer at CES looking an idiot. Then they decided to side with the Chinese government against Google, reminiscent of the evil empire/dark side jibes of the past, courtesy of a statement by, you guessed it, Steve Ballmer. Last and worst it was an acknowledged security hole in Internet Explorer that may have been the cause of the trouble at Google and has led to both Germany and France advising Internet users to change to another browser – a happy circumstance for Google who are heavily promoting their browser, Chrome. Coincidence?

If I was a PR wonk at Microsoft, I would be holding my head in my hands in despair – each step seems out of kilter with customers and opinion-makers. In PR terms governments dissing a key product is just plain nasty.

Meantime the kids are deserting Xbox because of the network costs and Windows 7 is, frankly, underwhelming as an operating system: the cool kids run Linux Ubuntu and the rest are increasingly turning to Apple. Microsoft is disappearing down a reputation black hole where it is extremely profitable but nobody likes them or their products.  One possible fate for them is what happened to Xerox – they dominate the desktop computing market but that market disappears to mobile phones and tablet style computers. Will that happen 2010? No. But the world will look very different in 2015.

Microsoft needs to lose it monolithic response to the world: in short it needs to get cool!

Microsoft’s IE – the weakest link in the China Google hack

While Google and China battle it out with threats and innuendos after the great Google hack in China, we now have the weakest link of ’em all in this murky affair unveiled – Microsoft and its browser IE!

Microsoft has now admitted this and has even come out with a warning about the critical unpatched vulnerability in the IE.  Mike Reavey, director of Microsoft’s Security Response Center (MSRC) had this to say:

“We have determined that Internet Explorer was one of the vectors used in targeted and sophisticated attacks against Google and possibly other corporate networks”

For Microsoft, admitting this is the first step in damage control and they have gone on record with a security warning which Computer World reported as shown below:

 The security advisory said that the only version of IE not containing the critical flaw was IE 5.01 running on Windows 2000. All other versions, including IE6, IE7 and IE8 on Windows 2000, XP, Server 2003, Vista, Server 2008, Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 are vulnerable to attack.

A patch for the vulnerability may miraculously arrive any minute now  as part of crisis mangement from Microsoft. After all Google’s threat is keenly watched the world over and for an Internet giant like Microsoft there’s nothing as big as a security flaw in terms of reputation mangement.

In other Microsoft news today, Steve Ballmer has announced that Microsoft intends to continue to stay in China and obey the country’s rules. (yawn)

The interesting question now is -Will Google really pull out of China after China has scoffed at Google’s threat saying that they are going to continue filtering Google content come what may?

Google and China – the tussle continues and further developments on this front may just take the heat off of Microsoft for now.

Microsoft at CES 2010 – what’s happened to Steve Ballmer?

Was that the real Steve Ballmer on the stage for the keynote speech at CES 2010 or a PR wonk clone? Holding a small HP tablet in his big hands his presentation was like a poor Steve Jobs presentation without the pizazz or the theatre. The device looked silly and so did Steve dressed in his purple V-neck sweater and it wasn’t helped by the close of Steve’s hands trying to fiddle with the tablet – boy, did it look uncomfortable and pretty useless.

What was worse was the platitudinous utterances from him which sounded like they had been written by some satirical Web 2.0 website that writes sentences out of a combination of tech cliches.

“This industry really stayed focused and continued to invest, work hard and bring new technology to the market place we really made an impact on people’s lives around the world… From the largest screen on the wall to the smallest screens in people’s pockets, we are delivering the entertainment people want.” Well the industry might be, but Microsoft sure as hell is not!

Microsoft have a real problem: they just seem so irrelevant to the tech world. Let’s face it: what do they do but try and cram some version of Windows onto a device and the only version that works is the PC version of windows. I am running Windows 7 on my netbook and it is sooooo unexciting. I mean, it works and all but there is nothing in it that is cool and since my version is the basic version, I have to upgrade to get any of the exciting stuff – that is I am assuming that there is something more exciting in the other versions, right!

In reputation terms, it is all so negative. Commentators and reviewers are continuously dissing their products. Partly the problem is a product problem, partly it is presentation. Steve Ballmer is a generation out; Microsoft need a new evangelist and a new vision that combines the multi-device model of the present. When I compare my version of Windows 7 with the advertising campaign, it does not fit at all. That’s a big problem.

At the developer level, nobody is meaningfully talking Windows and microsoft development methodologies any more. Three years ago every Indian IT student was learning  MS, now they have moved en masses to LAMP.

What should Microsoft do? At the most radical level, they need to move beyond the paradigm of Windows in both product and cultural terms. They need to reinvigorate themselves in terms of what they do and how they talk it. It is amazing how they have squandered the Xbox franchise in the past year. Just when it looked they had put some clear blue water between themselves and Playstation, they have killed it through their poor networking strategy. Lo and behold the kids are reverting to Playstation 3. Whilst the Ubuntu netbooks failed, it is likely that the Android versions wont as people acclimatise themselves to Android on their mobiles.

In the 90’s Microsoft pooh-poohed Sun’s “the network is the computer”, now they need to reinstall something similar into the company and build products around it. Reinventing reputation is a long game which requires courage and steadfastness from senior management. Microsoft: find somebody who believes in the future franchise and go for it!

Reputation is what people are saying and thinking about you. In the tech world, reputation is about the positive attributes of conversation and also share of mind. Microsoft needs to measure and address both of these.

Top 100 Brands lets see how their online reputation is

I saw a news article on the BBC about the top 100 brands in the world and thought it would be interesting to see how their rankings were reflected on the Internet in terms of Reputation Management.  I got the list off Interbrand which runs a report each year.  All the main brands have a http://en.wikipedia.org page but I decided not to list every Wiki page, you can easily find them yourself. The results are from the searches I did on Google.com

  1. Coca Cola – Number one in the report, it looks like they have about 4 websites on the first page but this massive giant still has a negative result number 7 http://www.inminds.co.uk/boycott-coca-cola.html
  2. IBM – One negative from the same site as Coca Cola http://www.inminds.co.uk/boycott-ibm.html Number 5, International Brotherhood of Magicians number 8, so as long as you don’t annoy one of these magical guys you should be OK
  3. Microsoft – They pretty much dominate the first page through all the sites they run from bing to xbox,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft being the main issue
  4. GE – So far is doing very well like Microsoft however they also have negatives about them on the Wiki page
  5. Nokia – Have done a great job with their reputation online dominating pretty much the first page, again a wiki page with negative content is still available.
  6. Macdonalds – falls into the category of having a name with a lots of other people (Scots) and businesses helping drown out negative content.  Of course there is a wiki page but on one of those rare occasions the page is about Kevin B. MacDonald so well done Macdonalds the only company so far not to have anything negative on the first page in google.com
  7. Google – Guess what there is not one negative piece of content about Google not even a wiki page, I wonder how they manage that 😉
  8. Toyota – At the time I did this research Toyota had a couple of negative news stories, wiki page and this one http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-10353116-54.html number 10
  9. Intel – Intel have a clear bill of health apart from Wiki page
  10. Disney – Have done very well, even the wiki page was number 9 in the results, a few negative news stories but not directed at them, well done!!!

I will look at the following 90 brands over the course of the week and give feedback on any that really stand out.  What is amazing is how much weight Google gives to Wiki pages.  Many of these wiki pages include previous law suits of the companies involved (many years out of date), I have no real understanding why they add such information, or even why they list companies in the first place.  It is the easiest way for someone to get negative content up the search results by adding a page to Wiki.   I thought encyclopedia’s were about how fast a Cheater can run or the Roman Wall, not how a company has had previous law suits against it.