Mozilla boss slams Microsoft for lack of browser choice in Windows 10

31 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Microsoft learns R95 billion math lesson in its Nokia blunder.

Mozilla chief executive Chris Beard has written an open letter to Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, criticising the company’s decision to make Edge the default browser in Windows 10, even if the user is updating from a system that previously used Chrome or Firefox as the default. Windows 10 was released earlier this week, and its launch turned out to be very successful, garnering about 14 million users within the first couple of days. Mr Beard said he was “deeply disappointed” with the decision, accusing Mr Nadella of throwing away the choice his customers have made about the internet experience they want, and replacing it with the internet experience Microsoft wants them to have. There have been a few controversial features so far, including a hidden fee and an unhelpful error message, but the one that people are most upset about is a feature that quietly changes your default browser for you. He said that it sends technology backwards, which must be the equivalent of a ‘your mum’ insult for the million dollar technology industry CEO community.

Considering that the deal included $1.5 billion in cash, the write-off means Microsoft now values a business that once controlled 41 percent of the global handset market at just a small fraction of the purchase price. Beard reminded Nadella that a previous attempt to get Microsoft to follow the advice of a market-disrupting rival fell on deaf ears, which is why Mozilla is repeating its warning. “I am writing to you about a very disturbing aspect of Windows 10. They are unsettling because there are millions of users who love Windows and who are having their choices ignored, and because of the increased complexity put into everyone’s way,” he said. There is an option to maintain your old browser, but you have to click the button that says “customize settings,” which is much smaller than the express option, and then click another button later on to actually enable customization (hint: if you put on your reading glasses, you’ll find it at the bottom left of the screen). It was only the third loss in its history as a public company. “If you were talking about any other industry, this would be considered a catastrophe that’s the equivalent to a natural disaster,” said Horace Dediu, who spent eight years at Nokia during its heyday and is now at the San Francisco research firm Clayton Christensen Institute, which studies disruptive technologies.

Unfortunately, it didn’t result in any meaningful progress, hence this letter.” The letter follows on the same theme, but adds an element of superiority. This being the technology business, Microsoft’s still relatively new chief executive, Satya Nadella, gets credit for swiftly confronting reality and taking the hit to earnings. Beard said that Microsoft’s actions do not matter to Mozilla just because it runs a competing browser, but that they could have a detrimental effect on the millions of people who use Windows. “These changes aren’t unsettling to us because we’re the organisation that makes Firefox.

As a remedy, in 2010, Microsoft agreed to offer Windows buyers a choice of alternatives such as Google’s Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari when they first booted up their new operating system. In 2013, the EU fined Microsoft £485 million, after the company omitted the ballot from Windows 7 Service Pack 1 for 14 months, from May 2011 until July 2012. Amazon wrote off an even more modest $170 million in October, acknowledging that its Fire phone was a flop. “We try to learn from everything we do as we launch new opportunities,” said Amazon’s chief financial officer at the time, Thomas J.

But far more was at stake for Microsoft than for Google or Amazon, since the main point of the Nokia deal was to support Microsoft’s Windows operating system, which, in turn, was a crucial element in Microsoft’s “mobile first” strategy. Now both handset operating systems and hardware are pretty much global duopolies, with Google and Apple dominating software and Samsung and Apple dominating hardware. Microsoft’s “grand scheme was to have a single platform that ran on PCs, laptops, tablets and phones, and to be able to sell applications that run Windows,” said Nicholas Economides, an economics professor at the Stern School of Business at New York University who specializes in network economics and electronic commerce. “That failed.” Dediu said it was hard to put all the blame on Microsoft, since so many others had met a similar fate. “Most people didn’t believe that such a catastrophe could occur this fast,” he said. Microsoft “just couldn’t imagine that a company that was once as strong and dominant as Nokia could have virtually no value.” He compared the swift rise of Apple and the withering fortunes of Nokia, BlackBerry and other once-thriving manufacturers to the arrival of an infectious virus. “We tend to think the strong will survive,” Dediu said. “But a virus is a very small thing that kills big things.” He continued: “It’s easy to say Microsoft was foolish and blame the chief executive. When I asked Microsoft what it had gotten for its money, its spokesman, Shaw, agreed that the speed of the changes in the industry had taken the company by surprise. “Everything always looks different with the benefit of hindsight,” he said.

In an email to employees this month explaining the shift, Nadella said, “We are moving from a strategy to grow a stand-alone phone business to a strategy to grow and create a vibrant Windows ecosystem.” Shaw stressed that Microsoft would continue to manufacture Windows phones and other products, and that it would introduce a new line of Lumia phones this fall. But they will be differentiated products tailored to narrower market segments, like business customers concerned about security. “One thing we learned is that if we offer differentiated products that focus on the things we do best, those products do well,” Shaw said. “Instead of just thinking about our products running on our devices, we’re thinking about how we reach people, no matter what device they’re using.

We want to be part of the next wave of disruption.” Microsoft introduced its own wearable computing device, the Microsoft Band, last year, months before Apple.

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