Microsoft has given us so many fantastic products over the years, I thought it would be fitting to highlight some of their biggest disasters, their Ten Biggest Flops of All Time! Let's enjoy this time together as we look back at some of Microsoft's finer moments! If you would like to review the Ten Biggest Computer Flops of all time, I have reviewed them as well.
- Windows ME
Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition was touted as the first operating system to support Universal Plug and Play. Unfortunately, this operating systems was quite possibly less compatible with hardware, than its predecessor, Windows 98. It was also notoriously difficult to re-install, which was terrible since this operating system needed to be re-installed almost weekly. Hardcore users claimed that Windows ME was more stable than 98, or 98SE, and the instabilities came from users installing bad drivers that were not approved and certified. Nevertheless, most users of Windows were beginners, and thus the perception that Windows ME actually stood for "Microsoft Experiment", "Moron Edition", "Mistake Edition", "Miserable Edition", "Mistake Edition", and "Memory Eater".
- Windows Bob
Melinda French, Bill Gates wife, was the project manager on probably the most embarrassing, and most controversial software Microsoft has ever released, BOB! In 1995 Microsoft released a software package and interface that was aimed at replacing the Windows Program Manager with one aimed at novice computer users. The interface featured a big yellow smiley face with glasses and virtual rooms. Anything you ever wanted to do was done through a wizard that could never be skipped! You had to go through the same questions over and over, even if you knew what you wanted! Complete disaster! Far too simple, not powerful enough, overpriced, and all and all, ridiculous. An interesting fact is BOB is still not dead to you if you use Windows Live Messenger! Check out the Nerdy Emoticon, BOB is back!
As of Microsoft BOB wasn't enough, Microsoft had to bring it back for an encore! In 1997 Microsoft decided to try and save some face with the millions of dollars in research lost to create BOB. They introduced Clippy in Microsoft Office 97, and ever since, Microsoft Office users had begged and pleaded for the removal of the tool! Clippy is probably the most hated software characters ever created! It would constantly come up when you didn't want it to come up, and just be so annoying that it made you want to drop kick your computer. The famous line, "It looks like you're writing a letter". In 2007, nearly 10 years after the users begged for its removal, Microsoft finally killed Clippy, but still kept ways to enable the character if someone really missed Clippy. It would be interesting to see how many people have done that.. my guess is 0.
- SPOT Watches
Everyone has always wanted a digital watch that could give you everything you ever wanted from news, weather, sports, etc, on your wrist. The problem was, they did not want something that was big and ugly! Also, do you really want to recharge your wrist watch every day? Need another reason to not buy one? They hardly work anywhere, and if you want to travel somewhere outside your "home" city, they just don't work unless you log onto a web site and tell the watch where you will be. So if you're on the market for the heaviest, ugliest, largest wrist watch money can buy, this watch was for you!
What was Microsoft's answer to the slick, easy to use iPod? A boxy, heavy, thick, and ugly mp3 player. The display isn't flush with the rest of the unit, and the casing looks and feels like the cheapest plastic you can buy! I had the unfortunate experience of trying one of these out at Fry's a few months ago, and I was brought to my knees in laughter at how complicated and ugly the player was! Brown plastic is nice? And will make people want to buy it over the super sexy and sleek iPod? Seriously? What was Redmond thinking!
- Microsoft Creative Writer
Creative Writer is a word-processing application that was designed for kids. It was launched in 1993, and never really sold at all. Again, Microsoft did not seem to learn from the BOB experience, they launched a new version in 1996, A.B. (After BOB). They made things to simple to the point you are insulting even kids, is not the right way to go! Microsoft even decided the program was so awesome, that they would release a part 2 sequel! In 1996, they released Creative Writer 2! And once again, sales were terrible! If you really want a copy, you can buy one on eBay now!
- Microsoft Actimates
You'd think Microsoft had failed at everything at this point, but no, they also wanted to win the award for "Creepiest Toy Award". The Actimates line consisted of 7 interactive toys that interacted with your television and your computer. Although the concept of a talking interactive doll seems great on the surface, kids were flat out getting petrified and parents totally creped out with these dolls! Why? They had an "awesome" feature that had them turn on and come to "life" when their TV shows came on! They were discontinued in 2000. So if you really want to buy one of these possessed dolls, you will have to check ebay!
- MSN Network - The Original
This one was awesome! I still remember when we bought our first computer and it came with an icon for MSN Network. It was a proprietary network that Microsoft was trying to create that competed directly with AOL, CompuServe, etc. Unfortunately for Microsoft, they were late in the game as usual, and also came up with a formidable opponent, the Internet! The best part that makes this awesome is that they wouldn't give it up in the beginning! I remember thinking... why are they even bothering? The Internet is 1000000 times better and bigger! Why would anyone pay for their premium content! Microsoft did re-invent it later, but it took over 12 years to fix that one!
- Windows Vista
I'm using Windows Vista as we speak, and I must admit I do like using it, however, it's not really that great of an improvement over Windows XP to warrant any kind of fanfare! Plus it was years late and shipped nearly 5 years after Windows XP. On top of being late, nearly every cool and new feature that was supposed to be included in Windows Vista was pulled out! Also combined with the heavy requirement for computing power, this operating system is a beast that offers very little practical improvements over Windows XP. No doubt this OS will sell eventually due to Microsoft's monopoly on the desktop.
- DOS 4.0: MS-DOS
This article would not be complete if we failed to mention the operating system that started it all, MS-DOS! Version 4.0 was pretty much the worst operating system ever. It had a huge bug that caused data to be lost all the time! This was due to the Ram Disk being severely flawed in its design and development. Other "features" included severe disk corruption issues, and all in all, no stability whatsoever. It was so bad that when you went to buy a computer, you would ask for DOS 3.3 whenever possible. Sometimes DOS 3.3 was sold out, or you had to pay a premium to get the lower version! There were even rumors that Microsoft stole IBM-PC-DOS code to create MS-DOS 4.0.
There you have it! The Ten Biggest Microsoft Flops of All Time! I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane! By the way, I used to be a Microsoft Consultant, and love Microsoft products, unfortunately/fortunately, everyone makes mistakes. The good news is they tend to learn from their mistakes. Some companies do not. Are these my opinions? Of course, it's my blog.... If it was fact, it would be on TV ;)