When you are a small boy your Dad is everything to you, but as you grow up you realise that he wasn’t “cool”. But you probably had an Uncle who was definitely cool. He dressed sharply, always drove the right car, he was a hit with everyone – especially with the ladies. In fact he never seemed to make a bad move. Sure, there were a few times when he hung back when a new trend came along and leaping in too early would be a bad idea. But he was always “on trend” when it mattered.

But now you are getting older, and so is he. He is no longer so cool. He is no longer so quick and sharp. His perspective on what is cool and what isn’t is stuck in a time warp set 5-10 years ago. And any attempt to ‘buy his way’ into cool look make him appear helplessly out of place. Perhaps, he should be learning to grow old gracefully?

I am sure you can all think of someone like this you looked up to, and now you are concerned that they have lost direction and hope.

I have got to really know Microsoft through my years on the World Partner Advisory Council and presentations at World Partner Conference. But over the last 15 years working alongside them as a key technology partner I have marveled at their ability to produce incredible technology and awesome returns. But I now have grave concerns.

Long ago they watched the internet boom and seemed to have misjudged the impact and the attack from Netscape, but they responded strongly and decisively. Roll the clock forward and now every areas of their business seems to be under attack from far more credible and powerful combatants than Netscape. The Cloud Office business from Google; the business apps from a host of suppliers led by salesforce.com; the phone from the 2 upstarts iPhone and Android, and now Google is challenging the operating system and the Apple Mac is gaining momentum in corporate accounts. Only in the gaming market can Microsoft hold its head up with the truly spectacular XBox360 Kinetic.

Just like my Uncle there is no shortcut back to cool. Simply hanging out with cool guys (buying a stake in Facebook), going drinking with other ex-cool guys (partnership with Nokia), or buying the latest cool overpriced ‘threads’ (buying Skype) won’t do it. Perhaps is now the time to take a long hard look in the mirror and work out what are the strengths today, forgetting what worked in the past.

I desperately hope Microsoft gets its mojo back, because it is never nice seeing one of your childhood heroes on its stumbling.

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