There was a time when Microsoft could dominate any space they set their sights on. Time and again they would play catch up and leverage their operating system hegemony to dominate particular market segments. They did this most successfully with Microsoft Office Suite. Like most people at the time I really liked Lotus 123, WordPerfect and dBase which dominated their respective spaces under the pre-Windows DOS operating system. When Microsoft launched Windows perhaps it wasn’t a huge surprise that early versions of Word, Excel and FoxPro/Access worked much better and it wasn’t long before they dominated their segments.
When MS realized that they had all but missed the boat with the internet and infamously bundled Internet Explorer with their operating system, they got into legal trouble with the US government for monopoly practices. Microsoft was found to have abused its monopoly position by attempting reduce Navigator’s usage share by giving IE away, among other things. It still didn’t save Netscape however.
That approach can no longer work in today’s world because there is less emphasis on the desktop and desktop apps. Windows Mobile is floundering (perhaps it is time for MS to buy Nokia?). No one is using Zune (how many of you have even heard of MS’s rival to iPod?). Who uses MSN anymore? And Bing is not overtaking Google any time soon.
There are clearly some winners. I do use Xbox, Kinnect and Windows Media Center and really like them. Windows 7 is good (lord knows it couldn’t be any worse than Vista). But MS seems to be producing more misses than hits these days and the world is moving on very quickly.
This week I downloaded IE9 and realized that I can’t access my SharePoint files through our VPN using it. When I used Chrome and Firefox however it works just fine. Ugh.
Microsoft isn’t going away any time soon; however they are becoming more reminiscent of IBM in the early 90’s when they were trying to keep a foothold on the PC computer space. Does anyone remember OS/2 anymore?