Windows

Microsoft should learn from its mistakes as it enters second childhood

Apple and Google have provided Microsoft with the shot in the arm it needed to revive its underdog spirit.

There is a tendency for big companies to get "set in their ways" over time, when they're dominant players in an industry. Then smaller, feistier upstarts inevitably come along and shake things up. Microsoft did it to IBM -- and then Microsoft turned into IBM, in a lot of ways.

The maturing of a company is a lot like what happens to human beings as they get older. Young people are usually far more adventurous; as people become invested in their families, homes, and jobs, as they accumulate wealth and possessions and have more to lose, they become more risk-adverse. Business entities go through the same sort of cycle.

The maturing of Microsoft

Over the last decade, Microsoft has been seen by many as the "old man" of the tech industry. Windows was something that nerdy middle-aged dads used at work while the cool kids had moved on to Apple and Google products. That image was perpetuated in the public mind by the Mac Guy/PC Guy advertising campaign that portrayed Windows users as the fumbling, bumbling fellow who was always left in the dust by the suave Mac dude's witty put-downs.

To be fair, that unflattering portrayal wasn't completely inaccurate.

Like people, companies often don't realize that they've fallen behind the times. Grown-ups are often so busy taking care of business and juggling all the intricacies of life that they don't notice new trends -- or if they do notice, they dismiss them as passing fads that won't affect them and that they have neither the time nor the inclination to check out.

One might even say this has been Microsoft's modus operandi for a long time. It took a while for the company to warm up to this "Internet thing," for example. A quote to the effect that the Internet was just a passing fad has been widely attributed to Bill Gates, although I've not been able to find any verifiable documentation of that.

It's indisputable, however, that Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser wasn't released until 1995, about four and a half years after Tim Berners-Lee created the first web browser in 1990. On the other hand, Netscape -- often credited with beating Microsoft to the punch -- didn't release their first browser until 1994. And no one can deny that once Microsoft got on the Internet bandwagon, they went "all in," soon dominating the browser market.

Thinking different

That experience showed that the company could turn on a dime and change course. And it has done so again much more recently, with the complete overhaul of its mobile strategy leading to a Windows Phone that even detractors have admitted is an innovative example of how to (in the words of one of its leading competitors) "think different." Similar comments are being made about Windows 8, after Microsoft took a big gamble by incorporating the Metro interface that turns the traditional Windows UI on its head.

Old dogs and new tricks

But if you think about it, it's really not so unusual for an old dog to start doing new tricks. Astute observers of human psychology will note that people often become less rigid, less afraid, and more adventurous again as they get past middle age. Perhaps the same is true of businesses.

When it comes to individuals, you could surmise that it's because those people have realized that they're nearing the end of their lives. Corporations don't have natural limitations on their life spans, but the underlying motivation could be the same. People who don't have decades ahead of them may feel that they have less to lose by taking chances. In Microsoft's case, the fact that the company slipped out of "first place" on the technology heap may have had the same effect.

When you're on top, you have a lot to lose. You don't want to rock the boat. You take on the "if it's not broken, don't fix it" mentality. That fear of losing your number one position can stifle innovation. When you're number two (as we moving-past-middle-age humans learned from a car rental company), you have to try harder.

Some have argued that Microsoft was at its best when it was the underdog, going up against IBM. Then it became the World's Largest Software Company. And Bill Gates became known as the World's Richest Man. And there was no place else to go.

By giving Microsoft a run for its money, I think Apple and Google have inadvertently provided the company with the shot in the arm that it needed to revive its underdog spirit and get it wholeheartedly back into the race again.

Learning from mistakes

If Microsoft's goal now is to scratch and scramble its way back to the top of the technoheap, the company needs to look outward -- as well as inward -- with a critical eye. When we see that we're on the wrong path, we tend to focus on what we were doing wrong and to set our sights on correcting (or sometimes overcorrecting) our course.

Microsoft should look back and learn from its own mistakes, but it also shouldn't overlook the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others. James Whitaker's recent widely read blog post, "Why I Left Google," is a case in point. It recounts the story of how a company, that a few short years ago was considered the best place in the world to work, seems to have lost its way. Now we're seeing articles asking if Google is facing the "beginning of the end."

Apple seemingly can do no wrong -- at least as reflected in its financials. However, some of the shine seems to be wearing off in the wake of Steve Jobs's death and a somewhat lackluster response to OS X Lion. Some even say Microsoft and Apple have switched places, with Apple now going the conservative route and Microsoft coming off as the big innovator.

The rest of this decade should be an interesting ride, as the current tech giants square off in a three-way battle for supremacy. Who knows? Maybe another young upstart will come from behind and surprise us all. Meanwhile, I think all this competition is good for Microsoft -- and definitely good for the consumers and enterprises that are likely to have more and better choices.

Also read:

About

Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP is a technology consultant, trainer, and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security. Deb is a tech editor, developmental editor, and contributor to over 20 add...

47 comments
dhamilt01
dhamilt01

To learn, it helps to have an open mind. Microsoft's got closed a long time ago. Think IBM. Mistake ... Microsoft doesn't fix mistakes, if it admits to them at all. It just brings out new software and hopes the pions will forget the mistakes and give Microsoft more money to make Bill richer.

david.hunt
david.hunt

A bit of razzle dazzle, but look under the covers and technology moves very slowly in computing. Microsoft's denial of the Internet was a fact and it doesn't really matter whether you believe Bill gates said it or not, the network protocols they implemented, when they could have used a TCP/IP stack many years earlier. Ok, they created IE in a hurry and tacked on a TCP/IP stack, but that was only used to access what everyone calls "The Cloud" these days. In reality, it took Microsoft much more than a decade to recover from that initial denial of the Internet as the future of networking, and you could well argue that their application protocols still suffer the legacy of that decision (designed for LAN not WAN).

sboverie
sboverie

IBM is a better company to show how hard it is to get back on top after slacking off. IBM had been dominate in the market before mainframes and with the creation of mainframes found themselves missing the boat. Thomas Watson pushed the company to make computers to get IBM back into dominance in the market; the release of the IBM 360 system was very successful and IBM was the top mainframe builder. IBM got into the personal computer market in a way that let other companies take that market away from them. Bill Gates and Microsoft DOS got a better deal out of IBM than they would have gotten if IBM hadn't had such low expectations that the PC market would become as big as it has. In the 60's through the the early 90's, IBM was THE computer company, IBM is still around but they are no longer the first company one thinks of when thinking about a computer company; that seems to go to Apple since MS is not a hardware company.

dhjohns
dhjohns

Personally, I gave up on Macintosh OSs when Windows 7 came out. It blew Apple away big time. Windows "just works." If you want to install something click here. That is the way it is. It used to be that Mac was intuitive, but now it is not. Now Microsoft has invented Windows 8. I don't know how many of you are using it out there, but I am dual booting, and since Microsoft released the Consumer Preview, I have not gone back to Windows 7. Windows 8 is just that good. Of course I will be yelled at by all you "resistant to changers!" lol

Travasaurus
Travasaurus

Another good article Deb; very prescient...

adornoe
adornoe

of the technoheap? Other than in the category of market cap, Microsoft has been on top and the leader in computers for more than 20 years, and it's still far more relevant to computers and technology than Apple or Google.

TonyKl
TonyKl

Microsoft has an underdog spirit?

aflynnhpg
aflynnhpg

Yes, they are finally competing in areas that they overlooked for years, but their core strategies appear to be the same. Microsoft writes code to exclude integration with non-MS products. Other companies do this as well like Apple. If you are going to use SharePoint for example, and you decide to use another browser, you are going to have headaches. I don't believe as the title suggests that MS is going through a second childhood, nor do I think you can apply human age psychology to a corporation. I do like that MS is keeping itself viable. Whether you are a Google fan, an Apple fan boy, or MS follower, competition between the companies is leading to innovation and applications that are vast improvements over their predecessors.

cmwade1977
cmwade1977

Honestly, I think OS X Mountain Lion will make Apple the solid leader for the future. It will make the Apple OS more like iOS, make it far more secure (optionally though) AND they will have the App Store (huge advantage when you can buy once for up to 5 systems, I don't think Apple is exploiting this point enough). I think Apple's approach of inexpensive, small and incremental upgrades will prove to be the downfall for Windows, especially if Windows continues to push out new releases as fast as they seem to be doing at the moment (I mean Windows 7 just recently came out and they are already talking about Windows 8 by the end of the year). Why would I (especially in a business environment) want to learn an entire new way of doing things every 2-3 years, when by comparison I could learn a few new things every year and spend a fraction of the cost. For cost, consider: OS X - Every 5 systems - $30 per year over 3 years - $90 Windows - 5 Systems - $180 each every 3 years - $900 Pretty big difference there, if you want to keep up on the latest systems. Even if Apple changed to having to pay for each system, you would still come out at half the price of Windows over 3 years. I foresee a MAJOR shift in the business OS over the next 3 years. Of course with cloud computing, it may very well prove to be that it doesn't matter what OS you use in the end.

minstrelmike
minstrelmike

I was under the impression that the web was invented in 1994 with Mosaic.

danbi
danbi

The "man" behind Microsoft has been Bill Gates. His are the best and the worst concepts Microsoft has had. But without doubt, he had a vision: how to cheat on IBM, how to cheat on Apple.. ;-) No doubt, Microsoft does try to innovate. Thing is, they are forced to innovate, or they will be left in the history very quickly. Remember what happened to SUN? Despite all the innovation. Problem is, from what I have observed so far, and unlike Apple, Microsoft is not brave enough. Example: Microsoft has designed new Windows runtime, WinRT. We can think of this as the 'base os' (if such can be said for any Microsoft product to date...). Normal, sane design would be to create completely new platform, with the completely new APIs etc and push it, demonstrate it is superior and support developers/users to migrate there. But, Microsoft still cannot let "windows" go. They are making two major mistakes here. One is a marketing mistake: they still claim the new platform is "Windows" (while it is very alien to anything they had to date). The second is technology mistake: while they have well designed and way more secure WinRT now, they will still let new applications run legacy DLL code. This is at first sight to please software vendors, it is a disservice after all, because those vendors will have to rewrite their other code as well. So it is better to rewrite it all and be done. But the main problem in my opinion is, that Microsoft's own programmers are not yet up to the task to code in WinRT/Metro and this is the primary reasons for this dual-personality of Windows 8.

stykat
stykat

I do think that Microsoft got stimulated to do something as Apple and Google where getting more and more popular yet i don't think they concentrate for the same niche market. I looked and look at Microsoft as a professional company with professional services and software. True they moved to mobile devices, gaming consoles and mobile device operating systems but the feeling of their products is not like Google's or Apple's products. You probably need a Steve Jobs to make something as shiny and cool as the iPad or a person like Larry Page to make something like Google . Microsoft made it's fortune because of the desktop computer but nowadays these are at it's peak and maybe going down in popularity and sales. Since the first laptops appeared in my city some people changed just because they got fed up with too many cables.Most people seem to like and want things more simple. To use something for either chatting or browsing the internet and something else just for gaming, to have less things to worry about and be just a few buttons away from getting what you want. Well it was stated in the blog that newer generations like to use Google and Apple products more than the older ones, probably because the older ones got used to a big package next to their desk that had another package on the hard disk that had almost any functionality a PC can give to the user without having to use another hardware and without the simplicity. Probably Apple and Google are going up because they started with new minds that saw the new opportunities, that saw how things can and will change. Probably Microsoft needs to refresh the old personnel's minds.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Do you think Microsoft has seemed particularly motivated lately coinciding with the increase in competition from Google and Apple?

adornoe
adornoe

because, while it's true that certain corporations will operate in denial mode for some mistakes, and for a period of time, there is such a thing as "satisfying the user", which, if you don't, you'll suffer the consequences. Microsoft, nor any other company, can get away from facing facts, and the old adage applies: "you can fool some of the people all of the time, you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time". So, when it comes to the mistakes, no major corporation can afford to just be dismissive about them, and if they are, there are consequences. However, Microsoft is still a GIANT, and they've actually grown through the years, and they've added many new products and services, and they're still the most relevant computing company on the planet. No company could have those accomplishments by just ignoring the mistakes and ignoring the users/consumers.

adornoe
adornoe

and very dominant in the fields they compete in, and, with a lot less headaches that can be found at Microsoft or Apple or Google.

tech
tech

...but there seems to be a major flaw in Windows 8 as I see it. I have been running Windows 8 Preview in a VM. I do not like it. The interface is not consistent. They are trying to force the tablet platform onto the desktop. It doesn't belong there, at least not unless you have a touch screen (I don't). My experience is quite different that yours, because the Windows 8 Preview doesn't seem to 'just work' for me. Some software doesn't seem to like the new Windows 8 UI at all further fragmenting the experience. Even Microsoft apps are not consistent in the way you interact with them in Windows 8. You don't' work on a dual screen 23" monitor worktations the same way you work on a 10" tablet.

adornoe
adornoe

Look up the meaning.

charleswdavis6670
charleswdavis6670

There are so many unemployed CEO out there looking for the top job of each company that CNET mentions in any article, the hundreds of "qualified" snots must immediately send their resumes immediately. It's hard to understand that the US Postal Service is losing revenue. Oops! I forgot no one uses the snail mail.

tech
tech

Microsoft got knocked down like 5 or 7 years ago, and didn't even know it. Where is Microsoft more relevant than Apple, Android or Linux? Only in old technology really. Today's world is not about the platform, it is about access to information regardless of OS, Application... Microsoft is just starting to see that, Today the world is filled with Apple, Android, and Linux devices. Phones, tablets, TV's, and a whole lot of other 'computers' that know nothing of Microsoft. Microsoft is barely a footnote in the phone and tablet market, even after at least what 7 attempts to enter the market, each a dismal failure. How about virtual machines, maybe Microsoft leads there? Nope, behind both VMWare and Citrix. Cloud Services? Microsoft Azure by my research comes in way behind Amazon E2C and even Googles App Engine. Do I need Microsoft to use the internet? How about write a document or create a spreadsheet? Surely I need Microsoft for Email and Calendaring? Nope not there either. So where is Microsoft king? On the desktop, a dying technology really, not relegated to the status of a punch card machine yet, but headed that way in a hurry. I have a couple of attorneys that have told me to get rid of their PC's they like working on their tablets, they are far more portable and much more like carrying a folder of paper around. They don't do a lot of typing and really that is the majority of people. They don't spend the day typing, rather reviewing information or entering it with a few mouse clicks and keystrokes, which a tablet is well suited for. If I really wanted to, without too much trouble at all I could nearly remove Microsoft from almost all facets of the company I work for. I already don't run Exchange (never have and I do have all the functionality of exchange); I don't run Active Directory (never have, yet I still have all the needed functionality); My company uses primarily Word Perfect rather than Office (User Choice); Really the only need I have for Microsoft is my Accounting and CRM software which requires MS SQL Server. I could slap those apps on a Citrix Server and pretty much obliterate Microsoft from the desktop today, leaving only MS SQL on the server side. With a little planning and effort I could probably change those systems as well. Really only legacy systems require Microsoft, either on the desktop or the backend. Most new systems are web based and don't require Microsoft for the end user or in many cases even for the backend. At least that is how I see things from an IT perspective of a 100 person Law Firm.

Slayer_
Slayer_

A 180 dollar Windows machine is easy to find, just go to Walmart, but where did you find a 30 dollar Mac?

JCitizen
JCitizen

We were using 800 numbers and 1200 baud modems to communicate over POTS. This is pretty much the same as now, except the switches were analog, and routing was completely different - I imagine it went by area code. This rapidly changed when cheap electronic switching appeared. The old POTS outbuildings disappeared, and compact hidden binary logic infrastructure was adopted in the 80's. We were doing this even before 1985. CompuServe was one of most exciting companies to offer services at this time. I personally consider this the birth of the internet as we know it. I was already using a screen selection app called [i]appsel[/i] that looked a lot like a cell phone OS that served as my GUI. My communication software was an early data interpreter - the name of which escapes me at the moment. (edited) SCOM was the name. It finally came to me. Communications stardards were not in existence then, so I was able to talk to any machine that was readily available.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Wasn't it like aloha net or something like that?

JCitizen
JCitizen

legacy code be virtualized? I don't see a problem with complete abandonment of old code if everything can be run in a VM. I see people are pretty happy with XP MODE now, perhaps this is an example?

dhamilt01
dhamilt01

Microsoft is a monopoly. Over 90% of computer users use one or more of their products. With power like that, they have no concerns about saying "My way or the highway". Users by the billions choose their way, mistakes, bugs and consumer abuse included. How many people do you know that won't take it anymore and use one of the other 10% available? At least in the auto industry, you have choices. Microsoft cleverly squashed that idea in the computer world.

adornoe
adornoe

it's not the final release to production, and as such, you can expect for many improvements from the preview to the "for sale" edition coming in a few months. However, you are still being resistant to change, and to the Microsoft way, because, even though Windows 8 is a "preview edition", it is far superior to iOS and Android. Imagine what it will be in the final release to consumers, and imagine what it will be a year or two from now. The interface is, indeed consistent, and even I had a problem with it in the beginning, but, once I figured it out, it's a lot more consistent than any UI/OS out there. To boot, it's expected to be consistent across many platforms, which will be quite a feat for any full-featured OS (even if some of those features are not intended for the lesser platforms, like smartphones). You just need an open mind and work with it, because, it does "just work". When it comes to apps, well, there aren't that many of them for Windows 8 yet, and, it's still a learning experience for the development community, so you can expect that, with time, the apps that are developed will interact much better with Windows 8, no matter what the form factor.

adornoe
adornoe

Look all around you, and you'll notice that, when it comes to computers, the PC is still the number one platform, and when it comes to sale, there are still far more PCs being sold than tablets. When it comes to relevance, Microsoft is many times more relevant than Apple or Google, because, that "ancient" platform known as Windows, is still the dominant platform for all sorts of computing. Look at it this way... If Apple and all of its gadgets and its internet properties were to disappear tomorrow, would it be so devastating to the computing world? What Apple does, other platform can do handily and better, and Apple wouldn't be missed for long, except by the Apple fanatics. Apple going away wouldn't be any more devastating than if Nintendo were to go bye-bye. If Microsoft and all of its platforms, including Windows and server technology and online properties, were to disappear from the computing landscape tomorrow, what do you think would be the effect on the world? It would be very devastating, probably equivalent to having the whole world come to a screeching halt. With Apple, people would notice their absence, but the effect would not be devastating in the least. Linux, might be good enough for server technology, but, on the desktops and laptops, it's been an utter failure. And, it Linux were to disappear tomorrow, it would be more devastating to the computing world than the disappearance of Apple. But, Microsoft has been, and continues to be, the company with the most influence in computing around the world. But, if Linux were to disappear, Windows servers could replace them easily. Apple wouldn't even enter into the server equation. So, it's all relative to history and the current impact, and in those areas, Microsoft still is a lot more relevant, even if they got caught with their pants down with the 'redesign" by Apple of a few already existing gadgets, which, are not really that essential.

JamesRL
JamesRL

I still remember when the Mac OS was free, if you took a set of blank diskettes into the dealer, you could make a set of OS disks. Of course a new Mac (or PC) would set you back at least $3000.....

adornoe
adornoe

there are many choices, and people are actually making those choices, and Microsoft is no longer the only game in town, nor is it forcing anyone to stick with Microsoft. That's what the iPad is about, and what Android is about, and what Linux is about. For most of what people use computers, some of those alternatives will be more than sufficient, yet, people are sticking with Microsoft, because, if offers not only what people have become accustomed to, but what people want. Microsoft is competing in a "dog-eat-dog" marketplace, and, they're doing whatever it takes to be and remain relevant, and that includes creating products and services which people need and want. Now, they're involved in creating an OS which will try to redefine the computing and internet environments, and, people WILL NOT be forced to continue with the new Windows environment, but, chances are that, most current Windows users will be choosing form-factors because they'll be carrying Windows 8 as their OS. It's quite simple, people are still choosing what works for them.

adornoe
adornoe

problems, and lack of knowledge or experience. When it comes to any OS or application, well, there is no such thing as perfection in any of them, and that includes on any platform. Then, there is the problem with the shop, where the quality of the work being done is as good as the worst employee that is tasked with any important work. That is a problem which would rear its ugly head in any environment or platform or company. Your expectations are still very unreasonable, and, though you try to rationalize and justify your reasons as not having any trust of Microsoft, it's still mostly about not liking Microsoft. Pure and simple. That's how you came across in the beginning of the discussion, and now, you're backtracking a little by trying to make it about "trust" or unreliable OS/software. Those are issues with any platform, bar none. And, when it comes to a mature platform for business and consumer, you still can't beat Microsoft's offerings. So, NO!, you're still not credible.

danbi
danbi

I have not disputed your experience, because I don't really care and it is not relevant, because for my decisions, obviously my experience matters. Yes, I do consciously demand none of my companies use anything Microsoft. What this means is that, there will be no single system, that will depend on any Microsoft product. For many reasons. In short, I have lost my trust and faith in Microsoft. It is not about hate. Hate has nothing to do with business decisions. But, above all else, I want my business to stay alive. Microsoft has so far demanded that I switch from whatever I use to their platforms. That would be ok, if their platform was any reliable and open, but it it not. So, for me, it is cheaper to avoid Microsoft. Just one example: One of the few colleagues who uses an Windows based network had their system die. Upon inspection, it turned out that Windows has died... because, one single file (out of all few million there) is unreadable: one of the registry files. It so turned out, that the colleague had no backups of that file. He had a lot of data and applications to recover.. Well, simple task, eh? Connecting the drive to another Windows running computer should do the trick? Nope! "You have no permission to access that files".. all over. Great, isn't it? Microsoft technology to protect the users from accessing their own files. But "of course" you can grant permissions to files, since you are Administrator on the new system, right? Wrong. Doesn't work always. So, how did I resolve this issue? Connected the drive to an Macbook, formatter a new drive and copied all data over with: rsync -a /Volumes/old/ /Volumes/new/ Could have used cp as well, or just drag and drop... Could have done the same on any of the UNIX system I have around. I won't let anything like this happen to any of my server systems, ever. Microsoft have a lot to learn and, by my observation of the passing decades, it is very unlikely they will learn ever. So you suggest I trust Microsoft more? :) Of course, if I need an workstation with AutoCAD for example, I would buy a computer with Windows, because AutoDesk did not make their software for any other platform and their DOS version is too outdated. But, seeing that they started now to make AutoCAD for the Mac..

adornoe
adornoe

Look, you don't know me, or my history in data processing. You approach all things from an absolute hate of Microsoft, and that's not good for anyone's mental health. You have a simple one-sided mind, and that is, anything but Microsoft. I find it hard to believe that, the companies you work at don't use Microsoft in any capacity. But, if they don't use MS, it's because of your anti-MS agenda, and not because it would be in the best interests of the companies involved. Sometimes, hate or dislike can make people do dumb things. I don't do MSSQL because it would be too expensive for the type of project I'm working on, and if I implement my system, I'm not willing to start out by spending many thousands of dollars when I could do it for "free" with Postgressql. It's a simple decision of economics, and it's not like the decisions you make, which are, apparently, based on your hate for Microsoft. What you seem to be unable to understand, is that, when designing and developing and implementing a system, you go with what works best, and that could include a huge variety of software and hardware, from many vendors and from many manufacturers, and those decisions should not be based on a silly and stupid agenda of hate for a manufacturer or developer or any company. The only things I mention is the huge reality that, Microsoft is everywhere, in many different forms, and their technology affects everyone on the planet, in one form or another, and, if that MS technology were to disappear from the planet overnight, the world would come to a screeching halt. That's a reality you hate, but, it's undeniable. When it comes to decision-making that involves the economics of a company and the way the company operates, don't allow your personal preferences to get in the way. I don't use Microsoft for everything I use, but, when I have a need, they're always one of the providers of technology that I look to in order to make an informed decision. Most of my career did not involve using Microsoft products, but, in the current state of the marketplace, they can't be dismissed.

danbi
danbi

To adornoe@ Is it that hard to understand? I mentioned it already several times: none of my companies runs anything Windows for the past 20 years. At most, Windows comes with a laptop (pre-installed) and is usually wiped out shortly afterwards. For the record, there are few Macs. Windows on servers? You must be joking! Big data processing on Windows (servers)? You are most definitely joking! You, adornoe@ claim to have worked with all kinds of "mainframes". It is hard to hear an opinion, from someone with your experience, that a serious company will trust their data processing to Windows servers... come on. But, if you are fan of Microsoft and Windows, I can and do understand. But be true fan, base your new projects on MS SQL and IIS and Silverlight or whatever they have today.

adornoe
adornoe

of looking at what I'm saying regarding the marketplace for consumer devices/consumer software. Get that? The marketplace for consumer requirements. You mention your 30 years in the software/tech industry as a means to disarm me and my arguments/points. But, I could easily mention that, I've been in the field a lot longer than you, which I have. And, I've used just about every piece of hardware out there, from mainframes to the lowliest of gadgets, and I've developed for the mainframes and the PC markets, and I've used many different languages for many different OSes and platforms. My experience has been at many different levels in top organizations and even low level organizations. My experience has been with online systems, and on batch systems. My online development experience goes back to before the PC was even "invented", and before the term "client/server" became popular. The system I worked with called that kind of development "requester/server" pairs. But, I believe I'm digressing while trying to match or supersede your experience. That's nuts and unnecessary. But, there you have it anyway. When it comes to enterprise computing, there was/is plenty of competition, but, that's not what I was talking about. I worked on the biggest systems around, including IBM and DB2 and Tandem systems (on-line transaction systems, now HP). I also worked on Control Data systems, which were actually called "supercomputers" by many at the time. And, no matter what the system, they all had similarities and differences, and I had to understand them all, including the many differences in how they handled data, including the databases. Thus, SQL, no matter who from, was basically standard, which slight differences which had to be accounted for. COBOL and Assembler and C and ALGOL and ADA and TAL (for Tandem computers) and Compass (assembler for Control Data) were my basic set of languages, and, even if I say so myself, I was quite proficient at all of them (I probably would have a very hard time if I had to go back to any of them). Anyhow, the debate is about modern times, and the current computing environment, where, even you would have to agree, Microsoft is the giant or leader, even if they're not the biggest in certain areas like mobile or search engines. But, none of what I said was even remotely untrue, since, for what Microsoft does, there is very little competition. When it comes to SQL, even I don't use MSSQL, and a project which I've been doing is actually using Postgresql, which is quite competitive and quite nice to work with, I must say. But, again, you took off on different tangents with your attacks about me being a "shill" or a "fanboy", but in reality, you failed to acknowledge the real facts in what I was talking about, and that is that, when it comes to the current tech/computing environments, Microsoft still rules, and no amount of denial is going to change that. Now, I might have Microsoft OSes and MS applications on my systems, but, I also use software from many different sources, including open source. So, I don't necessarily lock myself into a Microsoft world, and I like the diversity that comes from using other OSes and other applications that don't come from Microsoft. My real point is, and it's one that escapes you, that Microsoft is the most relevant software/tech company in the world today. Period. You can argue the point, but, that wont change the reality.

tech
tech

I fully understand that new features are a given with every major release of any product. I am intimately familiar with a products life cycle from concept through EOL (End of Life). Being as I have designed, written and implemented several systems (hardware, firmware and software) over my nearly 30 years in the IT field (well over that if you care to count my first paid programming project at the age of 13). However, that does not change the fact that over Microsoft's history, they have never made (nor is it normal to make) major changes between a beta and a final release. You said "Fanboyism is about loving a product and or company so much that, you become blinded to what other competition is out there that might be better or costs less or does not lock you into a walled-garden." Well you fits that perfectly. You even went to the extent to tell me that I was not working and living in the real word, because the company I work for is not 100% Microsoft. There are MANY alternatives out there and they are used by many, many companies. Let's see Novell / Groupwise is a great alternative and at less than half the cost of Windows / Exchange a real bargain too. Bonus you get a license to run SLED (Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop) with your Novell Small Business Suite Licenses (that is up to 100 users vs. Microsoft's 75 by the way). Have you ever tested Novell and Groupwise? Other options for servers and email exist as well Linux, Unix, Scalix, eGroupware, Google GMail.... Perhaps you are saying that Microsoft is the only option for a database? No, that doesn't make any since either. If you need a serious DB system you are probably running Oracle. But there are many more running MySQL, or Postgre SQL. Our phone system runs on MySQL for instance. Well over 50% of the web servers do NOT run on Microsoft servers. So yeah there are valid options to Microsoft for servers, Groupware and Database. They are used by many companies daily. Maybe you are referring to a lack of alternatives to Office. But wait, that can't be, alternatives are all around. Our office uses Wordperfect (which if I tried to replace I would probably be lynched), but there are other options for office suites. Such as Open Office, Libre Office, Google Docs (If you want to use the cloud). Now the desktop is a little different story, most people stay with what they are familiar with, since they used Microsoft in school, and probably still use Microsoft at work that is where the masses flock for the desktop. That is why the GUI for Windows has changes so little since 1995! However, Microsoft is very late in realizing the demise of the desktop in the home. Something like half of the homes in America now have at least one smartphone or tablet in the house. Over the next few years the desktop will disappear in most homes because it is much easier to use a tablet and check email and surf the web, check your bank account etc from your recliner. Maybe even take your tablet to the kitchen and make that recipe. Or, woe take your tablet outside and relax under that shade tree while you balance your checkbook. Even my 74 year old aunt is replacing her PC with a tablet (her idea not mine). So for the home the desktop is a dying breed. For the office, the desktop will likely remain for the foreseeable future for the majority of users, though not all. As I previously stated I have several attorneys who are ditching their desktops for tablets. Of course for people that need to generate large quantities of documents, or enter large quantities of data the desktop is still the only real way to accomplish that. But for those 'consumers' of data the desktop is no longer required. I am not going to dig through all the threads to find it, but elsewhere you said Microsoft was not a monopoly and that it had to fight to stay relevant. Yet you continue to insist that if Microsoft went away the world would fall back to the middle ages. Which is it, because it can't be both. If the demise of Microsoft would send us back to the middle ages, then Microsoft is a monopoly. If Microsoft is not a monopoly then it's demise will not set back man a 1000 years (or even a 100). For anyone who cares to look there are a lot of alternatives to Microsoft. Unfortunately, students are indoctrinated into Microsoft at a very young age. Students in college and technical schools are only taught about Microsoft products for the most part. It is all they know when they step out into the real world. So what do they do, they go into the workplace and pedal what they know to their bosses. That is why Microsoft is so dominant. It has little to do with a lack of products to compete with them and it has everything to do with people wanting to stay with what they know and not step outside the box to learn something new. When they hire clerks for the summer here, they nearly all come in and freak out over us using Word Perfect rather than Word. However, by the end of the summer nearly all of them can work in WordPerfect quite well and many even admit that they understand why WordPerfect is better than Word a few even ask where they can acquire the software and how expensive it is. That said, Microsoft has tried numerous times to enter the tablet and phone market (going back at least 10 years) and they have failed. Why? because they tried to force a desktop like experience onto a touch environment. Microsoft has seen tablets take off Apple iPads, iPhones and Android tablets and phones are flying off the shelves nearly as fast as they can be made. Why? Because people don't want to be tied to a desk. People rejected a desktop like experience for mobile devices. Now Microsoft is trying to push a tablet experience on to desktop users. In the end I don't expect they will be any more successful with that than they were pushing a desktop experience onto tablets. There are lots of alternatives out there for those willing to look around and field test other solutions. I have companies I do contract work for running Microsoft / Exchange. I have small companies that I have put in the cloud. One size definitely does not fit all. So, you sit back and have your Microsoft Koolaid, full of artificial colors and sugar. I am going for the salad, steak dinner and a nice glass of wine with cheesecake for desert. That glass of Koolaid sure is pretty, but it provides little in the way of nutrition. You have called me a Microsoft hater, but I don't hate Microsoft any more or less than I hate Google, or Apple. I whole heatedly reject your assertion that I am "still being resistant to change, and to the Microsoft way" Okay, I am "resistant to the Microsoft way" because the "Microsoft Way" is not always the "Best Way". I make all my decisions based on what is best for the company I am working for at the time. Sometimes it is Microsoft, sometimes it is not. I submit that you are the one who "just need an open mind and work with it, because, it does 'just work'" even without Microsoft.

adornoe
adornoe

and, if you are in the IT field, nobody should have to explain that to you. Fanboyism is about loving a product and or company so much that, you become blinded to what other competition is out there that might be better or costs less or does not lock you into a walled-garden. I like Microsoft, not because they're my preference, but, because they actually produce software and products that people want and which is actually simple to use or learn, and that doesn't lock you into a specific way of doing things. Besides, the combination of hardware/software that comes with using Microsoft products and software, almost always ends up costing less than comparable products from the competition, so, to me, it's a no-brainer when it comes to selecting wisely. Microsoft IS GREAT, but only because they fill so many roles in the general consumer marketplace, and in the enterprise area. They're not great because they make the best software or the best OS or the best hardware. They're the best because they're, well, like God and everywhere. I don't mind the competition coming in and trying to take away some of what Microsoft does, but, the competition has seemed to be taking other directions, like when Apple decided to get out of the server OS field, and now, they're strictly a mobile computing hardware/iOS platform. Not much by way of competition to Microsoft. Then, there is Google, which is not anywhere near being a competitor to Microsoft in OSes or applications or even in hardware; it's mostly a "search engine" with not much more diversity to speak of that matters. So, I'm left with mostly, one choice, and, that choice is what most of the world has decided on. The competition had/has a chance to compete in the area of PC OSes, and to come up with something that could marry the many different devices to make computing on the many different form-factors, seem seamless. But, no, they went in different directions, and, though Microsoft is by no means "perfect", they are the only ones trying to offer what most people seem to want. To that end, Microsoft is the superior company, and it has nothing to do with being a Microsoft shill; it's about being practical and facing reality. So, tell me, in your view, which company out there can come even close to offering what Microsoft does, not only in the current state of computing, but, in the near and distant future, starting with Windows 8 and moving forward from there. Apple has its nice set of iGadgets, and wonderful they are, but, they're not the future for all computing, and they'll be playing in the "mobile" space only. That's an area that Microsoft is moving into, and Google has moved into. But, in the market areas that Microsoft is most popular, the competition is not even there. So, go ahead and call me a shill or a fanboy, but, reality is a lot more than just branding people with silly and stupid names. BTW, what I said about Microsoft's technology, still holds true. If Microsoft's technology were to suddenly disappear from the world, we would be left in the technological ancient world, whereas, if Apple's technology were to disappear, the world would just go chugging along as if nothing much had happened, and, if Google's technology were to disappear, the world would easily continue on its merry way, because, what Google does, there is plenty of competition that can do as well or a better job. Those are real facts that have nothing at all to do with fanboyism or being a shill. Again, the facts are inescapable.

tech
tech

Wow, funny how on the one hand Windows 8 is the bees knees. On the other hand there are going to be a lot of improvements. Well if it is already so great, why does it need changes? Second, typically in the history of Microsoft there are not major changes between the beta (aka Preview Edition) and the released product. Third, there are A LOT of people complaining about the Widows 8 Interface. Fourth, since I have been in discussion with you in another thread, you know I am not resistant to change. In fact I have embraced change at the company I work for. So saying I am resistant to change is dis-ingenuous at best. However, even though I am not resistant to change that does not mean I am going to swallow whatever is placed in front of me, be it from Microsoft or another company. In the other thread you are the one resistant to change and insisting that the world is not going to change, Microsoft will always be our lord and master. You are nothing more than a Microsoft shill. The only thing you ever say is Microsoft is great, that without Microsoft the world would fall back into the middle ages. I hope they are paying you well, because your credibility is taking a hit.

adornoe
adornoe

Microsoft has been diversifying its products and services, and has actually remained one of the most profitable companies around. And while continuing to grow its lineup, it has made itself the MOST RELEVANT tech company around, way ahead of Apple and Google and IBM and any other you'd like to mention. Apple has the market cap title for now, but, they're still very limited with their lineup of products, and in fact, analysts on Wall Street have warned investors about continuing to believe in the irrational belief that, Apple will continue to grow with such a limited product lineup. Now, while you were still asleep and still hating Microsoft, and touting the benefits of the "cloud", you're failing to notice that, what are being called tablets nowadays, are the PCs of the past, with very limited power and limited features, and limited applications, which essentially, renders those "GADGETS", the equivalent of the dumb terminals of 30+ years ago. When those tablets aren't being used as dumb terminals, they're being used for "media consumption" and for games. So, the big question is, "why pay $500 or more for a dumb terminal to be used on the cloud, when a simple terminal could do the trick?" Now, when it comes to the private cloud, there is still a more powerful device doing the heavy lifting, and it more than likely is a computer, or a powerful PC. Now, when it comes time for you to wake up to the real world, you'll notice that, the much more relevant company to all types of computing around the world, is still Microsoft. For the more limited experiences, like phone and media consumption, there are the smartphones and tablets, but, even there, Microsoft is becoming more and more relevant, with, as you have already noticed, Windows phone and Windows 8. With Windows 8, Microsoft is expected to become relevant on all form-factors, including the smartphones and tablets and laptops and desktops and servers. Which other company, in your waking hours, is more relevant than that? Now, I don't say those things because I love Microsoft; I say them because, I still live in the real world, and when I look around, I still see Microsoft involved in just about "everybody's" lives. And, when it comes to impact, I still see Microsoft as being the most relevant company around, and if one were to compare Apple and Google and Microsoft, which one would have the most negative impact on the world, if it stopped existing and all of its products and services were to disappear overnight? We don't have to wait 5 or 10 years to see the impact of Microsoft. They're becoming more and more relevant as we speak, and they've moving into the territory of the opposition. Now, the only one in denial, and probably very much asleep as the world continues to evolve, is you, because, your predictions are not rational, and are based solely on your dislike or hate of Microsoft. I don't deny the impact of Google or Apple. But, I also don't go nutty about predicting the demise of any of them, and I don't see Microsoft becoming any less relevant in the next 10 or 20 years. Your post-PC world, and your post-Microsoft world, are irrational predictions, especially when, Microsoft is the only one making a move to stay relevant in all form-factors and in all markets of computing. You can't say the same for any other company, not even Apple. With Windows 8, all form-factors will be covered, and with all of its other properties, Microsoft has a presence in at least one aspect of everyone's lives, including YOU, and your "post-Microsoft" company. Now, wake up and smell the future. It's not like you dreamed up.

danbi
danbi

As someone who never ever invested in Microsoft technology, I can attest that nothing happens, if Microsoft disappears. Existing Windows installations will continue to function, for years. Existing applications will continue to function, for years. People will still be able to write applications for Windows, if they so wish. For the past 25 years of my dealing with personal computers, for hundreds of personal computers and thousands of other (typically servers) off the top of my memory we purchased maybe 5-6 windows licenses, no memory of office licenses (but there might have been 1-2 cases) and bunch of software that runs on Windows, most notable from Adobe. We usually keep the Windows OS on various laptops that came with it preinstalled, mainly for warranty purposes (and sometimes out of laziness) and on some it get's wiped out the moment the laptop is turned on. If you talk about SQL servers, I will prefer PostgreSQL any day over MS SQL. There is just no place for ANY comparison. I would even prefer to run PostgreSQL on Windows, if forced. But this is my opinion and I don't claim everyone shares it -- after all, different people have different experience. As for the Cloud... come on. There is one cloud, that exist everywhere around is: The Internet. It does not force all connected computers to be "windows" or "Mac" or "linux", right? Why would any sane IT admin want the same for their OS? Also, if you ever care to think about it, huge population of the same species is very vulnerable to any outside attack, or inside infection -- in the case of computers, single programmer's error. Population consisting of different species is much more resistant and in fact more productive... and so on. The computing world has been virtual ever since modern multitasking and multiuser operating systems, like UNIX existed. On these operating systems, an applications sees "it's own computer" with so much memory and so much disk space an can communicate with the rest of the "world" via agreed upon protocols. There is not much difficulty in coming to the idea, that all the pieces need not be in the same "computer" (they are in fact not, as wires run from one part to the other anyway). Even Microsoft has understood this, especially AFTER some software vendors demonstrated how this can be done with Windows -- like Citrix did so many years ago. So then suddenly Microsoft "Invented" Terminal Services. The next logical concept is that not all pieces of the 'computer' need to run the same OS, they only need to talk common protocol. So, you may have some application running on Windows "server" and see the display on another platform, like Mac, or an iPad, or whatever. Or, the opposite, which is way more common: have the application run on some UNIX server and display on a Windows client. This is, by the way, what happens when you view some web page on Internet Explorer. :) If you are indeed that long time around with computers, then you must know, that IBM designed the "PC" as an terminal for their mainframes. It was supposed to be replacement for their more expensive intelligent terminals, be more modular etc.

tech
tech

...who is right and who is wrong. The only way you are right is if Microsoft goes away and all existing Microsoft software disappears too. we both know if Microsoft went away today the existing install base would continue to function for months, even years. I can tell you right here right now, today. The company I work for is actively migrating away from Microsoft and has, so far, cut operating costs by about 40% and likewise hardware costs have gone down substantially too. It seems like you are choosing to ignore the values that 'the cloud' (I hate that term by the way) brings to a company. Access to your data from anywhere, across all platforms. That is the value of 'The Cloud' the OS no longer matters, certainly not on the desktop. By the way , the cloud need not be controlled by some distant company. It is called a 'Private Cloud' being a law firm, we absolutely will not consider placing our data on external networks. However, placing our data on a private cloud is relatively easy to do, comes with few risks, and has shown to be very cost effective to date. Our CRM App is written in .net. However, it now runs on Citrix and can be accessed from any device. Many of our low to medium users are opting to access that data from a tablet / smart phone rather than a computer. In the end I expect a 25% reduction in the number of desktops and the desktops that remain will not need to run a Microsoft OS. As I said, just like the post office, Microsoft is less relevant every day. I don't know where you buy your hardware but a fully featured laptop for the company I work for (one that will run all the apps and has all needed software) runs about $1,500, or I can buy a tablet for $500 (or less) and don't have any of the desktop / laptop support headaches. Updates are a snap, and support calls go down. Add to that that the end user can access all our services from the desk, conference room, or home without any issues. Oh and lets see it is much easier to hand an end user a $500 tablet that has been locked down, than to allow them to remote in on their home PC which could well be infected and have to mess with all those headaches too. Those 'gadgets' you are talking about are the future of computing. There was a time when people said the EXACT same thing about desktop computers and even cell phones. That they were a fad, not useful for doing anything productive and no one would want a computer sitting on their desk, or a phone in their pocket. Look where they are today. Microsoft has seen which way the wind is blowing, hence Windows 8. That is the only hope they have to staying relevant and they know it. They think if they can get people onto Windows 8 they won't be happy with iOS or Android. Unfortunately for them, they are too late, and from what I have seen of the Windows 8 Preview to far off the mark to make a course correction that will keep them on top. They may stay in the race, but I don't think they can win anymore. At least not unless there is another game changer out there I haven't heard about. I urge you to take this thread put it in a little time capsule and open it in 5 or 10 years then we will see who is right and who is wrong. I think you are the one in denial, feeling everything will stay as it is and not evolve.

adornoe
adornoe

and, when it comes to the significance of Microsoft, the whole world would come to a screeching halt if all of Microsoft's technology were to disappear overnight. You can't say the same for Apple or Google or IBM or even Linux. And, going back to 1985 for statistical purposes is irrelevant, because, back in 1985, PC sales were still a fairly new thing, and the number of consumers getting PCs was on the increase from the 1980s to the 2000s, and when it comes to percentages, you can't compare percentages when the number of users are few compared to the percentages when the number of users is tremendous. I know about Postgresql and about MySQL, because, I actually use them, especially Postgresql, but, when it comes to numbers, the packages that matter are the biggest and most established, and neither MySql or Postgres approach the same number as use MSSql, or Oracle. Then, when it comes to cloud computing, people will be spending a lot of money to purchase iPads and other tablets, and a lot of those times, they'll be spending a lot more money than they would be by purchasing a full-feature laptop with a full-featured OS, which PC won't be dependent upon cloud storage for all of its computing, and which storage will be far more limited and controlled by some distant and unknown group of people, and which system would be subject to outages at any moment. I like having full control of everything "on" my PC, and I don't like becoming dependent on some unknown somewhere who is not going to be guarding my data and documents and software with the same "tender loving care" as I would. Nope, sorry, you're wrong on all counts. Besides, those gadgets you're talking about, are having to grow to become more like PCs and, as they become PCs, the your whole argument will have become destroyed.

adornoe
adornoe

and you're failing to take into consideration the real world, where others have tried to topple Microsoft and have failed in every sense except in the area of "market cap", which Apple is currently the champ at that. Other than your asinine comments, your the one with the incoherent arguments and the hate for Microsoft. I don't care who wins the race to be the provider of anything. I care about what works for me, be that Microsoft or Apple or IBM or even Google. Your only argument is about hating Microsoft and wanting to undo some sort of "perceived" monopoly. Try to make some sense, and then, perhaps people, including myself, will start to take you seriously.

tech
tech

I am talking about where the industry is headed. See my reply to adornoe. In homes most people don't want or need a desktop with the advent of tablets and smartphones. For companies the need to provide access to their data across platforms means they won't need MS Desktops in the future.

tech
tech

Take a look at this: http://gigaom.com/mobile/uh-oh-pc-half-of-computing-device-sales-are-mobile/ The graph clearly shows where technology is headed. With PC sales falling to their lowest level (as a percentage of sales) since about 1985. Have you not heard of this thing called the Cloud? The Cloud more or less makes the platform (a.k.a. Microsoft) irrelevant. You no longer need to spend money for something that takes an entire desk and eats power. You can access the same information, create documents, have access to your data while away from your desk and none of that requires anything Microsoft. Sure there will still be a place for the desktop in the future, but it won't need to be Microsoft to access things. It could be Mac, Linux, or ??? With my company I have exactly 1 Microsoft Server out of 14, running MS SQL for legacy apps. I still have an install base of MS Desktops but several of the attorneys are already transitioning to tablets, and have asked me to remove the computer from their office. We are implementing solutions to remove the need for a MS Desktop for ALL of our applications. That is the way the wind is blowing. Any forward looking company will NEED to provide access to their data on mobile platforms, that makes the desktop less relevant and the need to provide the data across multiple platforms means Microsoft is less relevant too. They aren't going away tomorrow, but they are less relevant every day. If Microsoft the company went away tomorrow there would be a few hiccups, but the world will go on. After all the existing install base isn't going to stop. Exchange users would migrate to Pro Gmail, Scalix, or at least a half dozen other full featured platforms. MS SQL to MySQL, Postgre or where ultra high performance is needed Oracle, Well over half of websites already run on something other than Microsoft. Microsoft is almost like the Post Office, struggling to stay relevant in a world that has realized there is a better way. Sure people still use mail, but even the Post Office realizes they have a problem. I am not sure Microsoft has figured that out yet. I know my attorneys would be more lost without their smartphones and tablets than without their desktops. That is not true of the paralegals, but with all the changes to support smartphones and tablets even they don't need an expensive Microsoft Desktop any more. A stable linux desktop will probably do the job just fine. Testing for that begins next year.

cd003284
cd003284

If we're talking the capabilities and usage of full-fledged personal, business, and workstation computers, then we're talking about PCs and Windows, whether it's in people's homes, or companies and corporations, academia, government, the military, et al. Nothing else has anywhere near those numbers. This isn't to argue that Apple, Linux, Unix, et al, don't have their places in computing, or that they don't make significant contibutions - hardly, but nothing else comes anywhere near the dominance of PC/Win platforms.

danbi
danbi

I really appreciate reading your religious logorrhea. The world won't miss Microsoft. Many will be thankful, when the veil falls from their eyes. So will you. But you don't know it yet, because you are not going out in the big world to see the reality. There is life beyond Microsoft and the world is big. Bigger than you. Bigger than Microsoft. Way bigger. By the way, care to share how would an Windows server replace an Linux server. Oh, an Microsoft only writes software, does not make any device. You know, flip the switch and bits disappear. Hardware remains there.

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