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Microsoft's 13 Biggest Failures

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Microsoft’s 13 Biggest Failures
Microsoft’s 13 Biggest Failures

Redmond, once the Olympus of the computing world, is looking a bit more like Pompeii as its latest and greatest product release — the Surface featuring Windows 8 — is so much kindling to reviewers like our own Larry Walsh.

But Microsoft isn’t a stranger to flops. Here’s a list of the company’s 13 unluckiest failures.

1. Surface
1. Surface

Thought to be the “better late than never” answer to the iPad, Microsoft’s lone entry into the tablet world gathered its fair share of buzz but fizzled when put up against the combined forces of Apple Inc. and Google Inc.

2. Windows 8
2. Windows 8

Oh where, oh where has our Start button gone? Formerly known as Metro, this tile-based interface is faster and stronger, but who really cares about that when it’s lost all of the innate functionality that made previous Windows versions so great?

3. Zune
3. Zune

A day late and an mp3 short, Microsoft’s entry into the portable music market had pretty good reviews: It had more functions than the iPod and better software behind it, but it had about as much resonance as a wet match tossed into Apple’s bonfire.

4. Microsoft Broadband Networking
4. Microsoft Broadband Networking

Home networking got an overhaul in 2002 when Microsoft released these hardware products. Come 2004, the standards changed over to iEEE 802.11g, Linksys was purchased by Cisco and Microsoft was left with a warehouse full of home-based networking hardware with no homes.

5. Kin
5. Kin

This first iteration of a Windows-based phone – Windows CE, to be exact – was targeted through Verizon and designed for social media lovers. Dreadful sales not only stopped U.S. distribution, but halted a planned European launch and shut down the in-house development team.

6. Bob
6. Bob

One of the most visible product failures on Microsoft’s resume, Bob was a software product designed to provide a non-technical, user-friendly interface for Microsoft Windows. It went on to win 7th place in PC World magazine’s list of the 25 worst tech products of all time.

 

7. Tablet PC
7. Tablet PC

This grouping of tablet-esque laptop computers was designed to be used with a stylus but have all the functionality of a PC. High prices and clunky UIs led to general unpopularity, especially as stronger, faster and more stylish Apple tablets hit the market.

8. Vista
8. Vista

Oh, Vista. You could’ve been great, were it not for the privacy, security, performance, driver support, DRM and product activation criticisms being lobbed in like a war-heavy “Downton Abbey” episode.

9. Windows Pen for Computing
9. Windows Pen for Computing

Released in 1991, this stylus-based system was built for Windows 3.1x PCs. Support was included in the vaunted Windows 95 and intrinsically included in Vista and Windows 7, but alas, it just didn’t catch on.

10. WebTV
10. WebTV

Developed by Microsoft in the mid-90s, this thin client uses an online service and a TV for display. The 15 or so current customers who use the system have been informed it will shut down this September. Collectors, get ready!

11. MSN Messenger
11. MSN Messenger

There’s not much bad to say about this service – it once boasted 330 million active users per month, making it one of the most popular messaging clients in the world. But, when Microsoft bought Skype, some things were moved to the back burner and others were tossed down the disposal.

 

12. PocketPC
12. PocketPC

Laugh now, but this PDA-based handheld was a yuppie’s dream device not too long ago. It ran Windows Mobile Classic and had some of the capabilities of a real PC. But then, smartphones hit the market and, really, who needed these anymore?

13. Windows ME
13. Windows ME

Oh, Windows ME, why won’t you let us forget you? Oh right, the constant “blue screen of death” stability issues. According to PC World, users of this OS had “problems installing it, getting it to run, getting it to work with other hardware or software, and getting it to stop running.” Sounds solid.

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One Response to “Microsoft’s 13 Biggest Failures”

  • Bob Nitrio:

    With so many hardware failures on this list, it gives one pause for thought as to how Microsoft can morph into a services and DEVICES company. The track record on the devices side isn’t all that impressive.

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