I certainly can't argue the premise of your article, but I think the suggestions for correcting it are wrong:
1) I think that Microsoft can -- and should -- pursue a two-pronged strategy for tablets. A WP7-based "Tablet for Everyone" system, with the ability to run Flash, USB ports to hook up to conventional peripherals and SDHC slot for convenient extra internal storage and SneakerNet connectivity at a $500-600 price point would hit the iPad market right where it lives.
A "Tablet Pro" solution with Windows 7 Home Premium, additional battery capacity, firmware-upgradable embedded OS on a chip, hot-swappable 2.5" hard disk/SSD drive bay for applications and files, and all of the connectivity associated with the consumer tablet would take the high ground that nobody's claimed yet. This tablet could be thicker, heavier and sturdier for business use. Shape the battery as a hump on one of the short edges of the tablet to provide a convenient handle, provide a compartment for storing a "picking stylus" to use for forms and checklists and a "down-side" rotation feature for the screen to accommodate left- and right-handed users and price this system, well-equipped, at a $1000-1200 price point. If this sounds like an overgrown UPS or FedEx handheld system, you're getting the right idea.
2) Forget about putting Ballmer in a black turtleneck and blue jeans and turning him into Chief Demonstration Officer. That act's already been done. Instead, develop a team of business unit heads with real autonomy, adequately funded to do their jobs and put them on the front line. Introduce a collaborative mindset that looks at interaction between those business units as cross-pollination instead of poaching. Team goals that equal team success, rather than managing through monolithic lethargy.
3) Take Apple's vertical hardware and software development model and turn it against them. Rather than engineer parts of the solution and pray that some partner executes the solution the way you like; engineer the entire solution, build a proof-of-concept model and then license it to a couple of manufacturers on a non-exclusive basis. Those licensees gain rights to first-mover advantage, then soon after open up manufacturing licensing to anyone who wants to use the solution and extend its capabilities. That's essentially how Microsoft outflanked IBM and Apple 25-30 years ago, and that's how Microsoft can be a successful leader and innovator once again.
4) Get those business units the Hell off the West Coast. Engineers are innovators. The "high-tech industry" is locked into stifling orthodoxy and conformity. It's hard to conceive and execute innovative solutions inside of Silicon Valley -- or metro Seattle -- when you're surrounded by a community of sycophants and second-guessers dismiss solutions before they're executed because someone else has already been successful at it before you or because someone else hasn't. Not that there aren't lessons to be learned from history, but it's hard to break the mold when you're surrounded by pundits determined to push you into one.
By the way, Microsoft, if you're out there reading this, I'm available for consulting and service contract under mutually agreeable terms ...
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