Microsoft's original mission statement;

A computer on every desk and in every home, running Microsoft software.

Something I talked about recently;

Consumers have made it clear over the last decade or so that they want laptops that they can use anywhere, rather than desktops that are tied to a desk. And I don't think on the whole that they are particularly interested in using their laptops at their desks either.

The 'Microsoft software' part is interesting to think about. If it used to be Office that was what people wanted to run, then Windows what what they needed to run.

Today, Office is the only Microsoft software running in my house – not because I want it 1, but because if I want to work at home without lugging my office latop back with me, I need it.

But what else is there that Microsoft make that I would want to install on my own Mac? I was digging around the applications that came with a recent work upgrade to Office 2013, and came across OneNote, which I thought might have been interesting. Until I noticed;

OneNote is available for Windows, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Symbian.

So, an application for "free-form information gathering and multi-user collaboration" (interesting) that I can't use on my 'main' computer (effectively useless, unless I want to use it through a browser.)

Lets suppose that Microsoft have a killer app in the pipeline – what are the chances that they will make a Mac version out of the gate? Seems unlikely.

What are the chances of a genuine Excel alternative appearing any time soon? For me – pretty slim. For me, Excel is the swiss army knife of 'data' tools – I use it as a calculator, a spreadsheet, an organiser, a chart builder, for natural language processing, statistical analysis… Pretty much anything involving 'data', I'll do my first pass in Excel. For anything boring, I would rather delegate it to an Excel macro than to someone else to deal with manually. (Often, its quicker to tell a computer what to do than to explain the problem to a human.)

But lets face it – thats not how most people use a computer. Most people either have no interest in complex .XLSM workbooks, or if they do then they are using them rather than building them. And if they aren't building them, then they are probably better off using something other than Excel for the job (something Benedict Evans has posted some thoughts about.)

So. Back to Microsoft.

…on every desk

Somewhere I don't think most people want a computer any more,

…in every home

Somewhere I don't think most people need Microsoft software any more.

I can't help but think that in 5 years or so, 'everybody' will be criticising the new Microsoft CEO for not doing the things that, with hindsight, he "obviously" should be doing right now.

But right now, for the record, I just can't see what it is that he should be doing. Other than maybe figuring out a better way for Microsoft to say what they want to be doing.

  1. although my relationship with Excel is kind of love/hate…