Microsoft likely has a mind-boggling number of projects in the pipeline, so for all the long-running, successful product lines they maintain, there are bound to be a few false starts.
The company's massive size had traditionally made it difficult to change course or update product lines mid-cycle for those miscues.
Lately, though, the company seems to have shaken this image. In moves a less adaptable Microsoft would've been unable to pull the trigger on, several products in need of a shakeup have been repositioned to better serve consumers and gain traction in the marketplace.
The launch of Xbox One, Microsoft's successor to the Xbox 360 gaming console, was marred by policy and strategy miscues.
The console, which launched in November of last year, should have been a home run with consumers. Xbox 360 sold well and competed hard with Sony and Nintendo.
However, several aspects of the console's ecosystem, like the need to constantly have the device plugged into the Internet and the inability for the system to play used games, rankled consumers, prompting a vocal backlash online. Microsoft also only sold the console bundled with the Kinect camera sensor, leading the Xbox One package to cost $499, $100 more than rival PlayStation 4.
Microsoft would eventually reverse their ecosystem and always-online decisions, but the damage was done. PlayStation 4 took a lead in the early sales race for this console generation.
Rather than wave the white flag, Microsoft re-evaluated their product's positioning in the market and adjusted. In addition to the previously aforementioned policy reversals, the company has released a series of interface and feature updates for the console to improve performance and usability.
Most importantly, Microsoft decided to both release a version of Xbox One without Kinect, saving consumers not interested in the camera system $100 on the price, and institute a holiday price drop. Until January 3, 2015, all Xbox One systems are $50 less, making the base console and the package bundled with Kinect $349 and $449, respectively.
Additionally, the company has rolled out new console bundles that, when paired with the $50 holiday price drop, are quite attractive.
It will be interesting to watch where Microsoft goes with Xbox One after the discount expires in January. After any price drop, temporary or not, it's difficult to push consumers back to the old price. We'll see if Microsoft stays aggressive and makes the new pricing permanent.
Microsoft's new stance of evaluating performance and adjusting product positioning is refreshing, as an older Microsoft might not have been nimble or daring enough to make big moves.
Their changes with Office and Xbox One, as well as the restructuring of Windows and aggressive marketing of Windows Phone, show that Microsoft can and will shake up their plans when needed. This is a Microsoft that can be interesting, assertive and make waves in tech