There’s Nothing Paradoxical About Microsoft’s Strategy

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I’ve been meaning to comment on an article I read a few weeks ago that made a fascinating statement about Microsoft’s new cross-platform strategy. It’s written by Andrew Cunningham at the always-excellent arstechnica.com, and it’s titled “You win, Microsoft: How I accidentally went back to Microsoft Word.

The piece is generally good, and makes mostly the rights points about why Microsoft’s strategy is a smart one. This single line, however, stuck out to me:

The new “let’s publish our applications in places where users are actually going” Microsoft is easier to live with and, paradoxically, has gotten me to buy further into the Microsoft ecosystem than I ever would have done otherwise.

That one word, “paradoxically,” is exactly wrong in this context. It’s not paradoxical at all. Indeed, getting people to “buy further into the Microsoft ecosystem” is precisely the point. Microsoft is a different company today, and it’s implementing a strategy that’s the polar opposite of recent years. The Microsoft ecosystem now explicitly includes every important platform, and that’s entirely on purpose.

I’m still not certain as to Microsoft’s ultimate intention. Do they mean to eventually pull people into the Windows fold by making Microsoft productivity solutions first generally compelling and then best supported on Windows? Or, do they mean to monetize these solutions directly, and don’t really care if someone’s using Windows or another platform? That remains to be seen, of course, and I’m not sure it even matters. Maybe it’s a combination of both.

But far from being paradoxical, this inclusivity and platform-agnosticism isn’t having a paradoxical effect, but rather an entirely logical one. It’s simply cause and effect, and perhaps the industry’s apparent difficulty accepting it on its face is because for years, Microsoft was anything but logical.

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