Much of Microsoft’s problems have been related to their constant attempts to start over and “do it right this time”.
This has often resulted in leaving swathes of customers, developers and clients behind, including on Windows Phone all of the first generation of Windows Mobile users, all of the Windows Phone 7 users, many Windows Phone 8 users and soon many Windows Phone 8.1 users. Silverlight developers have had their framework deprecated, and Microsoft has started projects such as Project Astoria and then rapidly pulled the rug from under the very developers they hoped to attract, Windows for Automotive seems to be dead or so many more.
Of course if you ignore the human cost (such as laying of 18,000 Nokia employees) of these decisions all make sense, because this time (unlike last time) Microsoft will get it right and Microsoft would of course be rewarded for making the correct decision.
Unfortunately while the bean counters and robots at Microsoft are happy to ignore fall-out, the market is far from willing to go along with this. Every transition Microsoft has made with Windows Phone has resulted in loss of market share, from as high as 25% 10 years ago in USA to the low of 1.6% last quarter. Microsoft’s actions or omissions from 20 years ago has resulted in hostile press and even in companies like Snapchat and Google seemingly holding personal grudges against them. Failing to deliver on their software promises have fatally damaged relationships with important carriers.
In short, instead of building bridges Microsoft has been burning them over the years, and all the chickens have come back to roost.
While Microsoft appears to be under the impression that they can neglect their Windows Phone customer base with poor support over the next year, and still come back with an all new and sparkling Surface phone to recapture market share, it just does not work that way. By the end of the year Windows Phone’s reputation will never be darker (much like Blackberry) and there will be no coming back.
In short, my message to Nadella is that its cheaper to maintain than rebuild, and it would be a lot easier to support Windows phones well than to start fresh with Surface phone, because there is really no such thing as starting fresh – we will still all remember, even if Microsoft forgets.