Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 3rd Jul 2007 14:53 UTC, submitted by Tony Mobily
Microsoft "The more I think about Microsoft, the more I realise that they are, possibly for the first time, seriously cornered (or surrounded, depending on how you want to see it). A little history will clarify why I think so - and why I think that this might really be the beginning of the end for Microsoft."
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Very short-sighted article
by eKstreme on Tue 3rd Jul 2007 15:15 UTC
eKstreme
Member since:
2005-07-06

Microsoft is a platform company. The old platform was Win32 and they controlled it. Now people want cross-platform, so Microsoft created the .net stack, and gently helped (i.e. didn't stop) it being ported to Linux.

Well that wasn't good enough. The web is now becoming a platform. Gee, what to do? Oh, create Silverlight.

Microsoft will always control the platform in that they will always control the final layer between the operating system and the hardware. No one cares what's on top, be it Word or Firefox or a server.

The game's changed. The author should keep up.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Very short-sighted article
by Luminair on Tue 3rd Jul 2007 15:50 in reply to "Very short-sighted article"
Luminair Member since:
2007-03-30

Yeah, the problem is making money from that stuff ;)

Microsoft has a long way to fall if all they're going to be doing in the future is servicing Silverlight and .net.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE: Very short-sighted article
by elsewhere on Tue 3rd Jul 2007 19:50 in reply to "Very short-sighted article"
elsewhere Member since:
2005-07-13

Microsoft is a platform company. The old platform was Win32 and they controlled it. Now people want cross-platform, so Microsoft created the .net stack, and gently helped (i.e. didn't stop) it being ported to Linux.


Problem is that .net was never supposed to encourage cross-platform development, they were just paying lip service to the promise and success of Java in the enterprise. They've ignored mono simply because neither they nor anybody else in the industry thinks it will actually impact their business.

.Net and all of Microsoft's other platform/media/service initiatives all revolve around keeping windows at the center of the computing universe.

XBox exists only to keep Sony or anybody else from establishing a foothold in people's living rooms on the cusp of the home digital media explosion, which is supposed to happen any day now if the analysts are to be believed.

Less successfully, Zune is about preventing Apple from exercising control of the digital media market and potentially rendering MS impotent. There's also their own IPTV business with the providers which, of course, ensures that Windows-based codecs remain the anchor for delivery of paid content.

WinMobile extends Windows control to mobile devices for no other tangible advantage other than ensuring users of these devices require a Windows infrastructure to anchor it to.

Even their Live! initiative misses the mark; where every other player involved in trying to figure out how to bridge the chasm from desktop to web-based services to provide anytime/anywhere platform agnostic access to applications and data, MS is simply trying to make the web an extension of Windows. Sure, utilize the web all you want, we just want to make sure you're using IE to do it, which means you're anchored to a, yes, Windows desktop.

Office is simply another extension of that strategy, and may arguably be Microsoft's crown jewel more so than Windows itself. Windows is the platform, but Office controls the information, hence the battle over standards. And as much as MS fights to keep Office entrenched in corporate markets, it ensures that Windows remains entrenched on corporate desktops.

Every single thing Microsoft does ultimately revolves around Windows remaining locked in it's comfortable dominant position. They will continue to lose billions on the media and web services divisions, in order to do so. Conversely, if those divisions were actually profitable, they'd still be contributing a minute amount of profit in comparison to the Windows/Office behemoth.

That, ultimately, will be their undoing. They have done a fantastic job of holding back the forces of change, but they won't be able to forever, and they run the risk of being left defenseless if the time comes that Windows loses relevance. Despite their size, they have a massive exposure in that they've hinged all of their business on the continued entrenchment of Windows. It's the business equivalent of a single-point-of-failure.

Well that wasn't good enough. The web is now becoming a platform. Gee, what to do? Oh, create Silverlight.


Well, here here, to that. People seemed to be too comfortable allowing Adobe to hold an entrenched position simply because it meant Microsoft couldn't. They're really not much better. The only reason they seem to be held in regard is because they throw a flash player to the linux community on a regular basis to ensure everyone can still watch YouTube.

If Silverlight is a truly open and unencumbered standard, which from what I've heard it seems to be, then that's a gift for the community, regardless of Microsofts unquestionable ulterior motives. I don't think anyone expects MS to start releasing linux players etc. in support of their own standards, but a simple commitment to avoid legal rhetoric for alternative implementations is gift enough.

Microsoft will always control the platform in that they will always control the final layer between the operating system and the hardware. No one cares what's on top, be it Word or Firefox or a server.


MS is concerned, only in that they don't want applications that run equally well on alternative platforms. They're not concerned about somebody creating a better platform than Windows, they're concerned about others reducing the barriers to migration if customers elect to use an alternative platform. And that, sadly, is the basis of Microsoft's whole Windows business strategy: "Don't use us because you want to, use us because you have to."

I don't consider myself to be one of the anti-MS brigade, although there is certainly much to criticize of Microsoft's business tactics. I don't think MS is evil, I simply think they're poorly managed (said as a non-shareholder, if I held stock in MSFT my opinon from that POV would probably differ). There is a ridiculous amount of talent, resources and capability at Microsoft, but my personal opinion is that they've allowed their market dominance to artifically restrain the state of technology in both personal and business computing. Economic business models dictate a cycle of new idea, realization, production, commodotization, saturation and back to new idea. Companies with an inordinant amount of control on the market tend to hold the cycle back at commoditization, which stunts the process of industry innovation. Doesn't prevent it, but it certainly impedes it. Windows in it's current form should have died a decade ago; it should have been replaced by something newer and different, whether from Microsoft or someone else. That's not bashing Windows, simply pointing out that it is very rare in the technology industry for a particular brand or technology to dominate for as long as Microsoft has.

Anyways, enough of my rant. Simply wanted to point out that Microsoft isn't trying to embrace new opportunities and platforms for growth, they're simply doing everything they can to protect the rich-client OS paradigm that is our Windows computing universe.

I hardly think Microsoft is going to disappear anytime soon, but they don't need to. If Windows were to lose as little as 10% marketshare in terms of install base, for instance, it would probably have a catastrophic impact on Microsoft's ability to control the market the way they do and without a different business strategy, that would spell the beginning of the end. Those profits, that bank account, and their very business model, are contingent on the status quo being maintained.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE: Very short-sighted article
by twenex on Wed 4th Jul 2007 07:57 in reply to "Very short-sighted article"
twenex Member since:
2006-04-21


Microsoft will always control the platform in that they will always control the final layer between the operating system and the hardware. No one cares what's on top, be it Word or Firefox or a server.

The game's changed. The author should keep up.


I love sentences that start "Microsoft will always...", because they invariably come from people who can't see five minutes into the future. Microsoft is slowly losing control of the operating system, browser, and office market. It won't go away in any of those areas for the foreseeable, but it will be in the same position as everyone else - having to compete. I mean, look at Windows Live - it's a complete disaster. If Microsoft get into the Linux distro game, then we'll see if they can really compete on OS software or if the proprietary restrictions on Windows are the crutch I've always suspected them to be.

The author should keep up? Physician, heal thyself.

Reply Parent Score: 2