Where Microsoft Shines

12 07 2007

Yes we’ve heard many times that Microsoft is the perpetratior of all things evil, but sometimes I think that without Microsoft the computing world would not be where it is today. Of course we would be much farther technologically with open-standards, but there are some Microsoft technologies that we may take for granted:

Office

If you think there is a better alternative you’re kidding yourself. Open Office is good, but it is basically playing catchup with Microsoft Office. Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint are must-haves in the business world. Period. I don’t support proprietary formats like DOCX, but from a feature and usability stand point office has the grounds covered.

Windows Mobile

Do you remember the Treo 300? We don’t want something that ugly and unusable in todays mobile world. Windows Mobile is the reason why we see so many smartphones on the market. You could mention the Blackberry as another alternative but, Windows Mobile brings you the touchscreen support for certain models. The iPhone is great, but it doesn’t have the functionality of a true PDA, not to mention its unrealistic for cell phones to have 700MB of disk space to run the operating system. Microsoft managed to fit an OS on basic cell phones with the features you find on a desktop.

XBox

The 360 rocks. I love playing NBA Live ’07 in HD too. There is no denying that the XBox is a great console, and also a good business move for Microsoft. Which brings me to my next point…

Business

Microsoft can get away with making sub-par software and locking others into their proprietary system. How do they do it? They are masters at negotiation. There is no such thing as being the market leader by accident, Microsoft knew how the business worked, and made it to the top. Unfortunately they aren’t using their power for good, but from a business stand point they have excelled.

Bill Gates

Sure he may be a conniving crook, but he also donates billions of dollars to the Bill & Melissa Gates Foundation. Think of Bill Gates as the modern day Robin Hood. Jokes aside, he is a role-model for many. Who doesn’t want to drop out of college and make billions? Its the American dream (maybe not the dropping out part).

Windows 

There is a saying, you don’t know what truly tastes good until you’ve tried something bad. Because of Windows we have desktop operating systems that are pushing the limits like Ubuntu and OS X. From an economics standpoint, its a free market – competition is good!


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5 responses

13 07 2007
Zaine Ridling

From an economics standpoint, its a free market – competition is good!
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I’ll beg to differ with you here. While competition is good, throughout its history Microsoft has spent billions to co-opt or eliminate such competition. Look no further than their behavior toward the OASIS OpenDocument (ODF) format. Within Office 2007, you cannot save a document as an ODF file without going through a six-step process, nor can you make ODF Office 2007’s native file format. ODF would promote true competition among office suites because it would standardize office document data on one format built and controlled through an open standard, unlike MS-OOXML, which all will admit is nothing more than a product specification. Add to that how Microsoft somehow lobbied ISO to miraculously skip the ISO review process (beyond the initial 30 days) and over the objections of two-thirds of the national bodies, MS-OOXML was somehow fast-tracked.

Now we’re finding just how deeply flawed MS-OOXML really is (see http://www.robweir.com/blog/2007/07/formula-for-failure.html). Did the “experts” at Ecma even look at the MS-OOXML spec? Office 2007 is undoubtedly great, but between its inaccuracies with regard to citations, references, formulae, and its deeply flawed file format (that only Microsoft office can read), I would never recommend it to anyone.

As for business, you forget the 1998 antitrust suit, which the conservative party led by George Bush suddenly dropped once he took office. No real enforcement has resulted since 2001 either. How about the failed Software Assurance program? How about funding the SCO lawsuit? Or its recent patent threats against Linux? Or its price-gouging (any idea why Vista costs twice as much in Europe, even more in Australia?) How about WGA? OGA? That’s competition? How about its strongest competitor, Google? Microsoft has stated that they want to destroy Google — not compete with it, but destroy it. Google provides some of the most popular and useful services available online. Yet Steve Ballmer never misses a chance in an interview to reaffirm their intent to “destroy Google.” That they have not been able to carry out this threat hardly matters; their position is clear. Developments at Microsoft are directed only at extracting more and more money from the customer, and at making sure that customers are locked-in to Microsoft products when interacting with Microsoft’s OS. Don’t believe me? How many IDE’s are there for the Windows OS? Customers’ needs are irrelevant (see http://www.istartedsomething.com/20070713/microsoft-censor-windows-suggestion-list/ for the latest on this topic).

You get the (counter)point.

On the surface, Microsoft has done much good, and like yourself I use a couple of their products, among them Vista and Expression Web. And yes, Microsoft’s accomplishments are impressive; Gates and Allen even more so. But scratch the surface at any point and you’ll find that Microsoft has not been good for competition, innovation, standards, interoperability, and more.

13 07 2007
syalam

Zain – very informative comment! I definately learned a lot of new things from you. You’re right about Microsoft not complying with open-standards, by competition being good, I meant that because Microsoft is lacking, free software is picking up the slack by improving upon where they have failed.

One real world example of competition rekindling innovation is Intel. They got lazy in the early 2000’s and just milked Pentium 4 for what it was worth while AMD was innovating. After realizing this and restructuring, Intel has come back with a bang and is releasing product after product of new and innovative technology. Maybe Microsoft will learn something from open source.

13 07 2007
fakebill

I’m a “conniving crook”? What on earth is wrong with you? I’ve had enough of this nonsense! I’m suing you for libel. Please tell me your email so that my lawyers can talk with you. You can leave it in a comment on my blog (http://fakebill.wordpress.com).

13 07 2007
Berges

Microsoft has made this world a better place on one side while it has runined it on the other! one side it makes gr8 software or software that you need. Then it ties you down to it such that you need to use Windows only and no other application will run Windows based file formats. but as the guy above has stated you just need to scratch a little below the surface and you realize that all that glitters is not Gold!

13 07 2007
mount

Obviously Microsoft did a great job at offering a OS that was easy to use. Giving the computer (and internet) power to the masses. But when I look at their new products I’m a little less positive. Vista has some nice eye-candy but nowhere comes near the power of OSX and compriz-fusion (lets hope it’s in gusty) but it needs the most processing power and memory off all. They also incorporated a lot of security measures which aren’t up for the job.

Office 2007 looks quite nice and especially excel has improved on some points. But after another day fighting with Word over some auto formating and strange automatic tab and makeup I really feel at ease when I use openoffice or google docs. Oke, it’s not as feat. rich but I just want to use it to get the job done. (and who is using all feat. of Word on a daily basis ??)

So on a business point of view I’m feeling that Microsoft paved the way and has some great things to offer (at a price, but hey I’m not against businesses making profit) but some other software could be more interesting already right now. (of course it’s lacking some feat. but for the pc’s at our business which are online 24/7 I’m happy to trade some usability for 99% virus immunity)

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