Microsoft’s next Big challenge: being liked.

Ballmer going berserkMicrosoft has become the big brand it is by putting their trademark on the larger part of most office workers daily time spend. This gives them by far the largest share in the attention market, let’s call it mindspace. But I don’t know anybody who knows someone who actually likes Microsoft. All MS users are somewhere between respectful, indifferent and annoyed. The nature of the customer brand relationship is defined by dependency not desire. Now what if MS put its ambition on winning the sympathy of those people for a change?

They have tried it with MSN and it worked so-so, they have tried it with the Xbox and won, they have tried it with the Zune and failed miserably so far. MS are working on it but haven’t mastered the trick yet. And they haven’t tried it on their main business, the operating system and application software. The Vista story must have taught them a lesson by now. Imagine a Windows 7 and an Office suite built to deliver a pleasurable user experience. What waves of gratitude could be earned from millions of users who are today just that, not buyers making a conscious choice. Or fans.

An addicted Apple user myself, I can’t say I’m waiting for it. But if I were MS, I’d refocus the whole company on user delight today.


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