Tomorrow, April 4, 2015, you turn 40 years old, Microsoft!
As someone who’s already [far too] well into his forties, let me tell you—it’s likely to be an exciting decade. You’re already seeing the benefits of all you’ve done to get your life back on track after a pretty serious midlife crisis. I mean, really, who can’t smile just a little reading
“And now [Microsoft] is once again, hands down, the most exciting company in tech.” (Eric Limer, Gizmodo )
And I think it’s true in many ways. You've told us your version of your history. But let’s take a look back at our history together--your customers, and you:
April 4, 1975
You were born 40 years ago.
Your two dads, Bill and Paul, were geniuses. You've got good DNA behind you. When you were a baby, you kept saying: “A computer in every home, and on every desk.” Nobody can say you weren’t a big dreamer! And you were a precocious kid. That Chess-playing mentor spotted you and took you under his wing when you were six and set you down the exciting path to who you’ve become today.
You were a funny kid. You invented that whacky gibberish language. I mean, really, “C:\”? Then you started to learn to draw rectangles and made some big promises. While other kids were selling lemonade, people laughed at you, saying you were selling “vaporware.” But sure enough, just after your 10th birthday, you figured out how to make those rectangles into Windows. Who’s laughing now?
You were a smart and rebellious teenager who took what you had learned and decided you could do more. You caught a lot of attention as you figured out that you could build code that would run across multiple devices—a lesson, by the way that you forgot during your 20s and thank God you’ve now recalled.
But there’s no denying you were an awkward looking teen. You were teased for being a geek because those were the days when being a geek wasn’t “cool.” I met you during that time, but we became better friends when you started building some new technologies that your dad said were “nothing less than a fundamental change in the way that companies can address their business computing requirements.”
In your 20s, you changed your look a lot. You got rid of that black-and-white “goth” look and took on more colorful appearances.
I still can’t believe that the Teletubbies outfit you started to wear when you were 27 (what had you smoked that day?) lasted so long.
You were very focused. You had decided that you know you can build products for and sell to enterprises. And you did that very well. You even became a bit of a gamer.
But it wasn’t exactly an easy decade. When you turned 21, your dad had kicked you out of your house, with a tidal wave at your back, telling you that the world had changed.
You tried to figure out that new world but not every attempt was successful. You made some big mistakes. Let’s not even start with your choice of friends—that Bob guy.
You got in trouble with the law a couple of times in your 20s, and it happened again just after your 30th birthday. That probation really hampered your movements in your late 20s and early 30s.
Thirty-five arrived and you redeemed yourself a bit. Your Vista improved significantly and 7 was indeed a lucky number. And you had kicked off this little thing called Azure Services Platform. Things were looking up.
But you had been so busy figuring out how to move forward from the mistakes of the past that you hadn’t had time to look outside. And you had missed out on having fun with all those silhouette kids dancing to tunes, and buying in, quite literally, to where your original vision had evolved to: a computer in every pocket.
Too bad you missed out on that tidal wave that brought fun into our lives through technology. You had a lot to offer (Media Center, anyone?). Some great and innovative ideas. Perhaps you were just a bit ahead of your time. Perhaps you just can’t do everything. Perhaps you were an awkward communicator. Perhaps you were consumed with what you could build, and not what people wanted.
Many of us have had a long, 40-year, love-hate relationship with you, and sometimes “tough love” is the best love. But I gotta say, 37 and 38 were rough for you and me. You seemed to be mired in a midlife crisis. I wanted you to be a bigger part of my personal and professional life, but you were holed up in your garage building stuff. You were closer than ever to losing my friendship, especially over that Windows 8 thing.
Heading Towards Fabulous Forty?
But wow, you did some work! Therapy and a facelift and, I don’t know, replacing Kool-Aid with Red Bull maybe? You’re definitely aiming to prove that forties are the best decade.
In the matter of 24 months you’ve become the “hottie” in your peer group. Even all those gossipers are saying pretty good things about you behind your back.
You’re confident and you’re communicating your vision clearly. We’ve now reached, “A computer in every thing.” You might have missed the pocket, but you’re spot on, now. There are a lot of people waiting to view the world through your glasses. And you’ve remembered that your original success came from building software that ran on lots of devices.
Most importantly, you seem to be maturing and learning about who you are and how to be the best friend possible to us. No friendship is ever perfect, but you’re clearly committed to trying to accept me for who I am, and to help me become a better me at my own pace, rather than forcing me to be who you want me to be. Let’s commit, in our forties, to work together to help each other become better, and to realize our potential, before we get too old.
And let’s not forget to make it pretty and fun along the way. Those young whipper snappers shouldn’t have all the fun.
More than 20,000 of your friends await the opportunity to celebrate your 40th with you, in San Francisco at \BUILD and in Chicago at IGNITE. And what a party you have planned! How nice that many of the gifts will be for us, your customers.