The sad thing is, Microsoft rose to power partly because of their relative mobility. In the early 80’s, it was said that it would take IBM 9 months and millions of dollars to ship an empty box. Their internal bureaucracy and culture was so top-heavy and encumbered that they couldn’t spot opportunities and take advantage of them. Microsoft could, and David gave Goliath such a humiliating defeat that the story has served as a cautionary tale against companies becoming too entrenched. Which is exactly the lesson Microsoft needs to take to heart today.
The thing is, the Xbox is a pretty descent console. They do have smart people working at Microsoft, somewhere. But Games for Windows LIVE is such an amazing failure on so many levels. They entered the game way later than they should, they missed the point when designing the system, they made something buggy and cumbersome, and then they failed to adapt when it was clear their effort wasn’t nearly good enough.
I really don’t know what they’re doing. There is no way GFWL can beat Steam in its current state. (Ignoring all the bugs and crashes, this design has very little to offer the end user.) But they don’t seem to be making any effort to really improve it. They also aren’t interested in giving up or starting over. I really do suspect they’re just too big and clumsy to compete here. In the 80’s, IBM eventually realized they couldn’t win, and so they gave up the PC market. I keep hoping that Microsoft will do the same with GFWL.
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