Microsoft Is Really Turning It the Fuck AroundEric Limer2/18/15 3:10pmFiled to: Microsoftturning it aroundwindowswindows 10windows 8xbox581100EditPromoteShare to KinjaToggle Conversation toolsGo to permalink It's tempting to think of Microsoft as some aging dinosaur. But it's wrong. Change has been building for almost a year now. Yes Windows 8 was a mess, and the Xbox One's early days were embarrassing, but Microsoft's been sharpening its game with impressive speed. And now it is once again, hands down, the most exciting company in tech.Advertisement You've no doubt heard about the biggest beats in Microsoft's recent turn-around story. The Xbox One one is hella cheap and Kinect-free. Windows 10 is bringing back the Start Menu for real. There's a wacky faceputer on the horizon. And more recently Microsoft has been snapping up some great apps. These aren't flukes, or just lucky shots in the dark. This is the crack of a well-aimed and confident swing for the fences. After years of slipping and staggering with Surface and Windows 8 and Xbox One, Microsoft is really turning it the fuck around.Windows 8 was the future no one wanted Back in 2012, when we were on the verge of Windows 8 and flashy new Surface tablets, Microsoft was leaning into an catch-up obsession with being the future. The desktop giant had already mostly missed the boat on phones; Windows Phone 7 was reasonably competent, but it was only a shaky first step compared to far more established competitors. Microsoft wasn't about to make the same mistake again with Windows 8. So in a bid to compensate, it proceeded to start making a different mistake, over and over: Using sheer force of will to become the Next Big Thing... that no one was asking for.Advertisement I mean just look at Windows 8. It wasn't total garbage, but it didn't reflect how people were using their Windows devices; it dictated how Microsoft thought they should. Microsoft handed down its vision of the PC of tomorrow, covered in touchscreens and powered by Metro apps that maybe didn't all quite exist yet. Instead of luring users in, letting us slowly and voluntarily trade away familiar Start Menus and windows in favor of something new and exciting, it just sort of dragged us all kicking and screaming to a half-baked endgame without so much as a tutorial. Future's here, kids. Because I said so, that's why. Then, in the face of backlash from users who were quite literally getting trapped inside Windows 8's new Metro apps, Microsoft laid down an even bigger slice of its blissfully arrogant and aggro future: The Xbox One. It'll be the center of your home, Microsoft said. It will replace your cable box. It will have a mandatory camera. It will require a constant internet connection and might not play used games. But hey, these changes were just the cost of moving forward, Microsoft (half-assedly) explained. This is the price you pay for a disc-less, hands-free future with voice commands and gesture controls and shareable digital games (whether you want it or not). Meanwhile, over here in the real world, when Sony announced the PS4 would stick to the status quo on used games at E3, it was greeted with literal cheers.AdvertisementSponsored And all the while, Microsoft's ambitious tablet-computer hybrids lurched on to no real success. The disappointing Surface RT was born with a foot in the grave, while the (genuinely interesting!) Surface Pro was proving a little too strange and too future to hit its mark. Yet another two products that suffered from an excess of vision and lack of grounding. Still, it's easy to see how Microsoft got swept up in the grand ideas of the future it was trying so hard to hock. And how it was easy for us tech nerds to get swept up in an idealistic future that all the normals were just too damn scared to accept and to lament Microsoft's inevitable, necessary, but profoundly defeated reversals. Microsoft's visions were all so tidy and exciting, in theory. In practice, it was all one big clusterfuck.Live and learn to cut your losses Just after the Xbox One DRM flip flop, Microsoft made a big change—not to its products or software, mind you, but to how the company itself was run. Then-CEO Steve Ballmer completely up-ended Microsoft's historically bellicose hierarchy, one in which many of the company's internal teams—sometimes working on the same product across different platforms—were directly at odds and in active competition. It had grown counterproductive to the point of parody, which is dangerous in a world where Microsoft couldn't rest on its laurels. This new Microsoft, One Microsoft, would work together for once. It would have to. Microsoft's old org chart, according to Bonkers World.Advertisement Throughout the transition, Microsoft tossed and turned in the bed it had made for itself. The Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 both came out, both better but not particularly different from their awkward predecessors. It bought Nokia for reasons that still aren't particularly clear. It dripped out two free upgrades for Windows 8, ones that made it an ever-so-slightly more welcoming experience for mouse and keyboard users. Minor improvements, sure. But small steps in the right direction. Then in February of 2014, Ballmer stepped down from his post at Microsoft, making room for new CEO Satya Nadella, a cool-headed engineer who cut his teeth in Microsoft's enterprise wing—the Yin to Ballmer's highly GIFable Yang. And the real, tangible changes started to... Surface™.ShareTweet Kinja is in read-only mode. We are working to restore service.