Gabe is a smart guy and he is “concerned about Windows 8″:http://allthingsd.com/20120725/valves-gabe-newell-on-the-future-of-games-wearable-computers-windows-8-and-more/
And there are investors like “Bronte Capital”:http://brontecapital.blogspot.com/2012/07/changing-my-mind-on-microsoft.html?spref=tw who are abandoning their MSFT positions.
Both super smart guys and I respect their thoughts and analysis, Gabe in particular you ignore at your peril.
But really — the catastrophe for MSFT happened long ago, the consequences are just being fully realized now. Win8 and Surface and Azure are responses to that catastrophe, and are necessary, though they are very late to the party.
The lock on developer mindshare was lost in 1995 with the advent of the Internet. I stood in front of a room of developers in late 95, trying to convince them to develop Windows-specific content for Internet users, and got savaged. This was at the height of MSFT’s dominance and the leading edge of developers had already moved on to platform-independent install-free solutions like HTML and Java. There was no getting them back. Some parts of MSFT fought hard to stem this tide in the late 90s but ultimately the company never had the focus and products to remain relevant to these developers. The development community moved on to Internet-friendly technologies — first HTML and Java, php, perl, python, ruby, aws, etc etc etc.
Similarly, the tide has been running against the “MSFT OEM model for 15 years”:http://theludwigs.com/2012/02/msft-and-the-decline-of-the-pc-hardware-ecosystem/. Buying a PC hasn’t been a great experience for years and the OEMs gave up on design leadership years ago.
MSFT is now making bold moves to address the erosion of developer relevance and the erosion of the oem model, but the Win8 and Surface and Azure may all be a little late, or may take some time to stem the tide. They are necessary steps, they are not the catastrophe, they are the response to the catastrophe. They may not be enough, MSFT may have to continue to take big risks to get back to a position of leadership and growth in some segments. At almost any cost, MSFT has to get back out in front of the developer parade for some significant segment of developers.