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Despite looming threats, Microsoft still gaining market share

Here's my real question with regards to Microsoft's dominance: Is there any other desktop operating system that the masses could actually use on their desktops without having to learn stuff that only geeks have to know today?

People have asked about many different products and technologies over the years, "Is this a Microsoft killer?" The latest to spur that query is the Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR), an operating environment that allows the user to run applications in a Web browse or a stand-alone application environment much like a Java Virtual Machine. The true impact of Adobe's new offering could be the continuing expansion of options in the computing world. Every day, we get new technologies that give us choices, such as the ability to use business productivity applications through a Web browser; to connect to the Internet with a variety of devices; or to access data anywhere at anytime.  AIR may or may not be a "Microsoft killer," but it will certainly add to our choices — a situation that will in one way or another benefit consumers.

Could this finally be a bonafide Microsoft killer? (CNET)

The media can't seem to decide what to say about Microsoft, with examples from months apart seeming to cotradict each other.  In one story, USA Today reported that rivals were "chip[ping] away" at Microsoft's lead, and then a few months later, the IDC showed data that proved that Microsoft was increasing its market share. The dominance of Microsoft has also caused the tech giant its share of problems, most recently in the form of an antitrust ruling in Europe that could cost the company nearly $900 million in fines.

Sometimes it seems to me that a lot of people are extremely emotionally invested in seeing Microsoft go down in flames.  To some extent, I can understand those sentiments, as Microsoft is as cutthroat a company as has existed since the times of US Steel and Standard Oil.  However, a lot of credit should also be given to Microsoft as, without its aggressive strategy of making computing easy enough for the masses, we may not have seen the explosion in technology, the Internet, and computing that we have experienced over the last decade. Here's my real question with regards to Microsoft's dominance: Is there any other desktop operating system that the masses could actually use on their desktops without having to learn stuff that only geeks have to know today? I know that Linux has come a long way over the past five years, but is it to the point that a consumer can go out, buy some random piece of technology, and easily hook it up to their computer?  In other words, is there a viable Microsoft OS replacement out there?

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