Windows-hugging IT needs to let go

Microsoft's failed client platforms and withholding strategy for Office and SharePoint deepen the wedge between users and IT

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The problem is that Microsoft hasn't delivered. Windows Phone 8 remains less secure than iOS and Samsung's SAFE extensions to Android. Borg has called for "the impeachment of [Microsoft CEO Steve] Ballmer for chasing after Apple in the consumer market, while Apple ate their lunch in the enterprise. And he still hasn't fixed it!"

In the tablet space, Windows RT isn't compatible with Microsoft's mainstay management tools, and it doesn't work well with Microsoft's new Intune small-business management tool, the InfoWorld Test Center has found (yet Intune handles iOS easily). And Office is hard to use via gestures in Windows 8 and RT tablets and touchscreen PCs.

Heck, Windows 8 is hard to use, period -- on any type of PC. You have to wonder how much longer Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and Lenovo will play along with Microsoft's Windows 8 delusion and either start marketing Windows 7 in its place or quietly phase out of the PC market (where none makes much of a profit anyhow).

And Microsoft's Internet Explorer 10 remains the least HTML5-compatible browser -- by far. If it didn't come with Windows and if so many enterprise apps weren't chained to its ActiveX technology or its Java version, I doubt anyone would use it.

Not only has Microsoft failed to figure out how to deliver compelling -- much less equal -- smartphones, tablets, or PCs, it has decided to restrict most of its software crown jewels to its flailing hardware platforms. SharePoint doesn't work well on OS X, and not at all on iOS or Android, though some third-party tools try to fix the gap. Office has always been crippled in OS X, and its Office 2013 Web version is passable at best on an iPad (true, a major change from last year, where it was unusable) -- but it won't run in Android. To be fair, Office is horrible in Windows Phone, too.

It's clear Microsoft's strategy is to withhold its better technologies to force users to stick with the inferior Windows platforms. IT is waiting for that magic day when Microsoft's Windows delivers beyond the legacy desktop.

Users, meanwhile, have moved on. They'll buy more tablets than PCs this year, and adoption will only accelerate as users start augmenting their PCs at work with tablets, not just buy them for home use as is usually the case today. In the meantime, they're learning they don't really need Office: Quickoffice on iOS and Android takes care of most of their tasks, as does iWork's trio of Keynote, Pages, and Numbers on iOS and OS X. Because SharePoint doesn't work on non-Microsoft platforms, users have discovered Box, Dropbox, and similar services, all of which play well with their Windows PCs, too. Microsoft has cut off its nose to spite its face -- and taught users they don't need Microsoft any longer.

If IT doesn't get a clue, users may decide they don't need IT any longer either. IT needs to stop waiting for Microsoft and instead deal with the reality: Client computing tech is now heterogeneous, and Microsoft doesn't have all the right answers.

This article, "Windows-hugging IT needs to let go," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Smart User blog. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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