Even though I left the company, I'm still very much a fan of Microsoft. The current wave of products in particular iteratively build on a lot of great stuff that came out two years ago. Of course I love the development tools, but I've also grown quite fond of Windows 8 (though admittedly don't imagine using its don't-call-it-Metro interface much until I have it in tablet form), and I continue to be a huge fan of Windows Phone.
But wow, when it comes to the really big and important consumer product launches, they really are sucking. A few months ago, they announced Surface, their totally amazing looking tablet that takes everything I like about the phone and puts it in tablet form. Do you know how much I would prefer that user experience to the iPad? Well, it doesn't matter, because pricing and availability remain a complete mystery.
Then take a look at Windows Phone 8, which is turning into a complete disaster. First, they intended to release the developer SDK "late summer," but now they'll have a limited preview that you can try and sign up for next week. Meanwhile, Nokia announces its new flagship phone for the new OS to great fanfare, but there's no indication about when you can get it, how much it will cost, or who the carriers are. I realize that's Nokia, but if Steve Ballmer is on stage, it might as well be Microsoft, too.
Compare this to Amazon, which today announced its new tablets. You know what else they announced? Pricing and availability. Next week, Apple is apparently announcing its new iPhone, and maybe even a smaller iPad. Anyone want to take bets that they'll announce pricing and availability?
It's just so frustrating because these are good products that nerds will instantly start to drool over, but general consumers aren't going to stick with the hype if they have no idea how much these things cost. Microsoft really needs to learn this, to understand that a partial story isn't good enough even if the products are amazing. Their competitors already know this.