Zune 16

The Microsoft Zune 16 portable media player, a second-generation of the Zune, was released in November 2007. Apple had sold nearly 100 million iPods by the time Microsoft sold its first competing device in 2006. The Zune was taken off the market in 2011. (Associated Press / September 18, 2008)

Microsoft's tumultuous fall on the stock market during the last 13 years has largely been fueled by missteps in the consumer products market.

Though Bill Gates had significant control until 2006, soon-departing Chief Executive Steve Ballmer ultimately held responsibility over Microsoft's vast empire.

Here's a look at some initiatives that didn't work out as planned.

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Microsoft Tablet PC

Nearly a decade before Apple released the iPad, Microsoft had developed a version of Windows XP suitable for tablets. The tablet was controlled by a stylus.

Bill Gates hailed that Tablet PCs, as Microsoft called them, would be ubiquitous within five years. Gates and Ballmer missed the mark by failing to see the need for hand-touch technology and user-centric marketing -- two key elements behind the iPad's success.

Microsoft Surface

Microsoft released a worthy-of-merit tablet in 2012. But people found it difficult to use, and Microsoft couldn’t convince developers to make apps for the tablets despite Ballmer's cries to the developer community.

Microsoft took a $900-million loss on $19.9 billion in revenue in the most recent quarter because of weak tablet sales. Recently the company cut prices of a couple of models. It also lost out on big contracts, such as with the Los Angeles Unified School District, which plans to give all of its students Apple iPads instead.

Despite not succeeding on its own, Microsoft hasn’t made its widely used Microsoft Office software available on the Apple. That’s sent many potential customers to the competition, including Google Drive.

Windows Phone

Microsoft was early to the table in the mobile phone market, too. It tried to keep things simple for users by mimicking the look and feel of Windows on desktops and laptops. These Pocket PCs eventually evolved into Windows Mobile and then Windows Phone.

But after the release of the iPhone in 2007, Microsoft’s share of the smartphone market tumbled from nearly 50% to single digits today. Ballmer steered Microsoft into a partnership with smartphone manufacturer Nokia. The deal hasn’t helped Window Phone much.

Microsoft Zune

Microsoft discontinued sales of the portable music player in 2011 after five years on the market. The Zune never surpassed the single digits in terms of market share as it failed to draw people away from the smoother design of the iPod.


After seeing Google’s rise, Microsoft tried to build its own architecture to scan the Web in the early 2000s. However, Google had already become an official dictionary word by the time Microsoft unveiled Live Search in 2006. The service was rebranded in 2009 as Bing to give it a new spark.

Bing included a search rewards program that let users enter sweepstakes for prizes such as tablets and gave them goodies such as Starbucks gift cards. Microsoft also struck key deals with Yahoo and Facebook to combine their searches and has seen its market share steadily cut away at Yahoo and more recently Google. Still, Google records nearly four times as much traffic as Bing.

Windows Vista