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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

July 27, 2011 at 9:04 AM

Biggest Microsoft disasters of 2009-11: touch, Kin, i4i, Danger

It’s my last week covering Microsoft for The Seattle Times and I’m answering your Qs all week on Microsoft. Scroll down and ask your own question in the form below.

On Tuesday, Mark from West Seattle asked what were the most exciting moments of Microsoft news. I will now be balancing out that post with the biggest disasters of Microsoft from 2009 to 2011.

The biggest disaster for Microsoft in recent history was Windows Vista, which happened before 2009. But the scrambling to make sure Windows 7 didn’t repeat the problems of Vista sucked a lot of leadership attention at Microsoft. Most likely it distracted them from attacking the competitive threat from phones and tablets earlier.

Missing the boat on touch. Windows Mobile took years to support touchscreen, lagging far behind Apple’s iPhone and Google Android. Microsoft will not have an answer to the iPad until some time next year when Windows 8 comes out. By then, the third generation iPad will be ready.

This is particularly embarrassing because Microsoft had been an innovator with touch technology years before Apple with the Tablet PC and the Surface. Microsoft now wants everyone to talk about natural user interface, such as the Kinect motion sensor, but the company is behaving like traffic cops waving drivers past a giant flaming car accident.

The Kin phone. The Kin was the smartphone Microsoft launched in April of 2010 and then pulled the plug on less than two months later. It was supposed to be the smartphone built for the social network but sales were an apparent disaster.

Losing a U.S. Supreme Court case. Microsoft had to pay close to $300 million and make permanent changes to Microsoft World over a small feature that i4i invented and Microsoft infringed on. Microsoft lost at district court, the appellate court denied Microsoft a review and then the company lost a unanimous ruling at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Danger acquisition. Microsoft bought Danger, the maker of the cult mobile phone the Sidekick, and turned it into the Kin. It was a waste of the $500 million Microsoft spent to buy Danger, a waste of a phone with a promising mass-market future and a waste of engineering talent that could have been harnessed to compete against the iPhone and Android. Skype users, beware, as Microsoft closes its deal to buy the popular Internet phone service.

To depict these disasters, I have chosen this montage of the worst clips from “Star Wars Episode I,” which includes some choice footage of Jar Jar Binks and the worst lines delivered by Oshkosh Anakin Skywalker. (Video courtesy of Youtube user Dangerhotrod.)

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