By anyones account Microsoft is a wildly successful company. They have dominated nearly every market they have entered, and companies that compete directly against them have failed time and again. However, there is one area where I think Microsoft is destined to always be in second place. That area is Hosting.
How can I possibly make such a bold statement? Simple, I just look at the facts. Microsoft is a company used to being in the lead, but hosting is a different animal. The days of hosting being server space connected to the internet are long gone. Hosting is about applications that run over the web. These include blogs, ecommerce shopping carts, discussion forums, etc. The vast majority of these applications are hosted on linux but the users of the applications are running windows on their desktops.
What this means is that there is a disconnect between the operating systems people run on their computers and the web applications that they use each day. This is a HUGE problem for Microsoft. There is now no need to use Microsoft specific software when WordPress (Bloggging software) or PhpBB (Forum Software), that runs on linux is one click away in the Bluehost control panel (For free I might add).
Microsoft has some nifty software to do web related work, but it is just one fish in an ocean of web apps to choose from. Microsoft’s current model is clearly going in the wrong direction. They have decided to replicate (Either directly or with partners) some of the great software on the web and try and convince users to try that option instead of what they are using. A great example is dot net nuke. .netNuke is a good software, but there are at least 5 different options that are just as good that are already freely available and in use all over the world. Instead of making Microsoft’s hosting platform run what is already out there and popular they reinvent the wheel time and again and frankly do a poor job of it, and do it late at that!
Microsoft MUST understand that they are NOT the leader in the hosting world and start acting accordingly. They have a chance to embrace what is already out there and add their own capabilities to create the ultimate hosting experience. Instead, they choose to stick their head in the sand and run as fast as they can in the wrong direction. In my discussions with Microsoft it is obvious that there are two camps inside the company. One wants to go down the path where Microsoft sets the agenda and provides all the software solutions needed for the hosting client (THE WRONG CHOICE!!!!), and the other wants to embrace the existing apps and add support for Microsofts other products and give the customer the ability to mix and match products to the users satisfaction.
As long as Microsoft chooses not to acknowledge what is right in front of them they will fail to gain any significant market share. I personally believe they will continue down this flawed path simply because it is all they know. The days of user applications running only on the Windows operating system are dead and someone at Microsoft better sit up and take notice.
Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com