Microsoft Products that failed or were abandoned

If you read our article on failed Google projects, you may be curious about Microsoft. There is not much to add to Microsoft failures as the company has been comparatively persistent. It may sound like a Microsoft fanboy but it is truth. The best example is the Internet Explorer. Microsoft kept improving it despite the fact that not many liked it. The name IE was found repelling by some, but the company dragged it up to its last operating system known as Windows 10 instead of simply killing it off. But yes, the company has had a list of failed Microsoft projects – though not as long as Google. Let’s look at some of them.

Failed Microsoft Products & Services

Failed Microsoft Products & Services

Microsoft Zune

The “most dragged but ultimately failed” project from Microsoft was Zune. It was a collection of hardware and software that provided access to several things like music on demand. The Zune could be called a set of hardware devices that were designed to run multimedia software with or without the PC/Xbox in combination.

Some of the services it provided were “Zune Music Pass” and “on demand video streaming” that would be complementary to Xbox and other hardware. It still has its own website that goes by that now redirects to Xbox website FAQ page. The services were discontinued in 2011 after Microsoft felt that they are not winning against Apple Music. However, instead of killing the Zune software, they ported improved versions to Xbox to stream music and videos. The Zune brand is dead however.

Windows ME

Nicknamed “Windows Mistaken Edition”, Windows ME was released soon after Windows 98. It was a disaster for many as it would crash too often, would not be able to launch applications and was incompatible with many applications that ran perfectly on 98. The only thing one could find new in the ME was Windows System Restore. After much dissent and criticism, Microsoft came up with XP – an operating system that still runs on many PCs even after end of official support.

MSN Watch

MSN Watch was a wearable hardware that was released ahead of its time. Wearable hardware are a trend these days but back in 2004, MSN watch was not received at all – despite its ability to let the users check email, weather, news etc. It is said that the watch was Bill Gates’ pet project that failed primarily because users had to pay extra for receiving the data they wanted.

MSN PlayforSure

Among the list of failed Microsoft products, MSN Playsure was created so that people could listen to music from Microsoft’s music store. There was a belief that Microsoft could provide music to any device that wanted to play from MS Music Store. PlayforSure was a certificate that told users that the certified device could establish connection between the store and player; and that the music or video will play from Microsoft Store. It was believed that the certification was infringing on the rights of device manufacturers to play any non-Microsoft formats and hence was taken off the market.

Microsoft Bob

Microsoft Bob is yet another addition to list of failed products from the company. It was a program designed to make the Windows GUI more user friendly. However, it was costly and would not serve much purpose. It was widely criticized by the press and people did not accept it. As a result, it was discontinued without any effort to make it better.

The above are just five among the list of failed Microsoft products. If you think any more need to have been included in this list, please do share in the comments below.

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Arun Kumar is a Microsoft MVP alumnus, obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN


  1. john_43035

    Don’t Forget the Microsoft Kin.

  2. Mulliano

    Hey Arun, I enjoyed this post. Also, don’t forget “Microsoft’s Internet on a Disk”.

  3. Midnight Distortions

    Don’t forget Windows 8.

  4. Arun Kumar

    Thank you. I too enjoyed compiling the list. I did miss many of the projects such as the one you mention. Thanks for including it in the comment. 🙂

  5. .

    I used Windows ME from when it came out until WinXP came out. It was a definite improvement over Win98 SE (which I previously used). At the time there were actually users who installed apps to deactivate or remove System Restore ! System Restore has saved me a couple times since Microsoft added it.

    The DataRat


  6. reconsharp

    don’t forget other microsoft failed products/services
    windows vista
    internet explorer and edge
    windows phone

  7. Chuck Fecht

    Except Edge and Bing are not failing

  8. Alexander Matos Olivo

    Microsoft Lightswitch on Visual Studio, let down an entire community….. it was a RAD tool under VS, is still there … but it just a dead body left behind

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