M$’s Empire – Structural Failure is Imminent

Porting M$’s office suite to ARM is one thing. Porting it to Apple’s iPad is another. Amid accusations of fake images but not outright denials of the existence of a port to iOS, one thing is clear. M$’s empire, like a column under load, has started to crack. In such a situation the strain on the rest of the column increases and collapse follows swiftly. There are two pillars of M$’s monopoly: that other OS and its office suite. Porting the office suite to iPad undermines that other OS and considering that business likes iPad but not the lack of the office suite means that business will increase take-up of iPad and the office suite, sucking the life out of that other OS.

Complicating the situation is that Android/Linux tablets are continuing to sell well and indeed, smart phones are emerging that are large enough to compete as tablets. M$ is under a lot of pressure to supply their office suite to iPad while the blush is on the rose. Waiting may build demand for Android/Linux tablets with M$’s office suite and M$ certainly doesn’t want that to happen.

Without a monopoly OS underneath it will be interesting to see how LibreOffice on smart thingies competes with M$’s office suite on iPad or anywhere else.

I expect market share of that other OS to begin a rapid decline. There is nothing left to sustain it. No solid x86 lock. Weakened support from Intel. No credible tablet OS. No credible phone OS. No credibility.

see The Register – Matt Asay – Death to Office or to Windows – choose wisely, Microsoft

see The Daily Deny M$’s Denial of disaster.

Another sign of cracking is the killing off of the “Windows Live” brand which made no sense and was a waste of pixels. Along with it will go “Home Basic”, “premium” and “ultimate” which also made no sense and offended users. M$ is throwing out the fluff in order to compete on price/performance which won’t be pretty but it is a better way to sell IT.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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27 Responses to M$’s Empire – Structural Failure is Imminent

  1. Clancy says:

    It looks like a great offer to me, Mr. Pogson, and just goes to show how far Microsoft will go to build a customer base. Netscape, as you should remember, had a lock on browsers and web servers just about as tight as Microsoft had on the desktop OS at that time.

    Netscape wasn’t giving anything away forever, as you can see from your own cite where they were trying to get BSG to buy Navigator and support for $50K and expected $200K more down the road. They balked at lowering their price to $12K and let Microsoft have the business (for free).

    Isn’t that what Google is doing with Android, by the way? They are telling the phone and tablet OEMs that they can have Android for nothing and there is no need to pay Microsoft for WP7 or 8 or to write your own OS. I don’t see where Google is going to get any payback, though. But even so, it seems to me to be pretty much the same sort of thing that you criticize Microsoft for doing.

    A bribe is something that is, first of all, illegal that persuades someone to do something against the interests of their employer or other group that the bribed person has a fiduciary responsibility towards. A good deal like this is more of a promotional incentive, a loss leader so to speak.

    Dumping is a very specific sort of offense that has to involve off-shore production and domestic suppliers as a part of the violation. You are implying “predatory pricing” from the context of your remark and even that is questionable.

    Microsoft’s business here consists of selling Windows licenses. Adding IE for free simply makes selling Windows easier to do. Today Microsoft also offers anti-virus, backup, cloud storage, and a number of other things as freebies to keep Windows as a one size fits all sort of product that keeps OEMs in their camp due to the streamlining of that aspect of their business, which, in turn, is selling a complete package, OS and hardware, to the OEM’s customers.

  2. M$ also interfered with Netscape’s customers:
    FYI, when talking to a representative of Telecom New Zealand, he told us that M$ had just offered to upgrade their 9000+ Win 3.1 installation to Win95 for free if they were going to use IE as their internal client.
    see http://www.justice.gov/atr/cases/exhibits/74.pdf

    That looks like a bribe/dumping/etc. to me.

  3. Clancy says:

    This is not any evidence of Microsoft preventing Netscape from running on Windows, Mr. Pogson. It is not even evidence of Microsoft doing anything other than offering Boston Consulting Group a lower price than what they were paying Netscape.

    I really do not know just what an “x-Perl Script plug-in” is, but it only seems that, at that time, IE had one and Navigator did not and some customer, Universal Systems, needed something called FOLIO that required this plug-in and Navigator wouldn’t work. That seems rather far removed from any direct action by Microsoft and specifically any action that might prevent Netscape from working with Windows.

    My own recollection is that Navigator worked just fine with Windows 95 and I used it extensively in that time frame. I remember that I quit using Navigator when IE3 or maybe it was IE4 came out and seemed to work a lot better than Navigator.

  4. These guys have around 12 thousands lawyers that access their service. The service can not be accessed by Navigator because Universal Systems runs a Microsoft Server, not because they want to, but because they have to to support FOLIO within their service. If you are running Navigator and you go to this URL: http://signup.unilegal.com/ , scroll down the bottom and click on the Next button, you will be prompted with an error message. You can’t sign up for their service unless you have a x-Perl Script plug-in. I talked to tech support and they said this type of plug-in doesn’t exist for the Navigator currently. The catcher is that if you are running Explorer and you go to this site, you can sign up and handle the Perl script without a problem and without a plug-in. The code is built into Explorer natively.
    see http://www.justice.gov/atr/cases/exhibits/107.pdf

  5. Clarence Moon says:

    M$ stated that it was a goal to prevent Netscape from running on M$’s OS

    Can you point to something that makes that statement? It sounds like a myth to me, the same as the “DOS isn’t done…” fairy tale.

    Also, I don’t believe that it ever was true that Netscape would not run on Windows. Or Lotus 123 for that matter.

  6. Clarence Moon wrote, “The idea of deliberately sabotaging their product so that their customers would have difficulty running the most popular applications of the day seems absurd to me”.

    What about ActiveX? They put that into IE to sabotage Netscape a very popular product. It also made life difficult for Apple’s Quicktime.

    M$ stated that it was a goal to prevent Netscape from running on M$’s OS. If it’s all about the applications, running Netscape would have been an asset but no, M$ had to mess with the competition.

  7. Clarence Moon says:

    That is what I mean by M$ not participating in the market.

    If you really believe, for example, that Microsoft created product deficiencies on purpose so as to make Netscape run poorly on Windows platforms, Mr. Pogson, I can better understand how you form your opinions. I know with some certainty that your belief is not true in any way, shape, or form.

    A long time ago, there was a sort of anti-MS claim that Microsoft’s mantra was “DOS isn’t done until Lotus won’t run!” and perhaps that sort of thing shaped your beliefs. But consider what Microsoft has always put forward as its sales appeal, namely that a richer and richer customer experience was crucial to their success. Even to the point of making their systems insecure and subject to malicious attacks, Microsoft persisted in making things “just work”, to quote their favorite saying.

    The idea of deliberately sabotaging their product so that their customers would have difficulty running the most popular applications of the day seems absurd to me, but apparently not to you.

  8. Look. In 1994 or so, M$ decided to bundle the browser with the OS. There was nothing wrong with that but they made it a part of the OS so that the browser could not be removed. There was no legitimate reason for that integration. They made their OS buggy and vulnerable to crashes and malware in order to cut out Netscape. That’s not participating in the market but messing it up.

    When Java was developed, which was a good thing for IT, instead of welcoming the technology, M$ did everything it could to sabotage the work of SUN. M$ spent huge resources sabotaging another company instead of supplying goods and services to M$’s customers.

    When the concept of using thin clients as PCs was raised, M$ actively campaigned to FUD the idea. Instead of doing thin clients better, competing in the market, they sabotaged others efforts.

    Malware became an increasing issue throughout the 1990s and reached a crescendo about 2000. Instead of fixing the problem which was M$’s weak OS, they did nothing but push their failed technology. M$ single-handedly created the malware/anti-malware industry which was a tens of $billions per annum drag on the whole world of IT. They harmed everybody, including M$, producing such fragile codes. M$ did not compete on price/performance but kept producing the minimally acceptable product.

    That is what I mean by M$ not participating in the market. Everyone else was scrambling to produce the best stuff they could to outperform on price/performance while M$ laid back and let the money roll in, oblivious of the damage they caused. Now that good alternatives have leaked through the cracks around M$’s bulk, M$ is becoming increasingly irrelevant in IT. The world can just move on and leave them standing still. “8” won’t save them any more than Vista or “7” did.

  9. The rate of spam on this blog has increased ten-fold in the last few years and the spammers are looking almost as intelligent as the commentators. Gentlemen, you have to distinguish yourselves… damned if I know how. None of you are advertising pills or ladies dresses.

    If it gets worse, I may have to ban comments altogether. That’s not what I want. I get about 30 spam comments for each post so we have reached the tipping point where more and more valid comments will be automatically marked as spam and if I go for a walk, the valid comment gets onto subsequent pages in the spam bin.

  10. oldman says:

    The spam filters are working overtime, eh Pog?

  11. oldman says:

    “M$ has not participated in world markets in recent memory. Instead they make exclusive deals and stifle competition.”

    Pog, this is a statement of opinion not fact. Microsoft and their ISV’s have been very much in world markets wherever there has been a need for desktop computing. Products running on desktop computers controlled by microsoft operating systems are the norm.

    That is reality.

    If you wish to indulge IMHO you fantasy that the burgeoning new market for android smart phones and tablets somehow constitutes a “win” for linux and by extension the linux desktop, knock your socks off!

    Reality is very different.

    “The world does not need domination.”

    But the world does have the right to use the software that it can afford, and where it can be afforded on the desktop at least software based on microsoft windows is still used by the majority.

  12. M$ has not participated in world markets in recent memory. Instead they make exclusive deals and stifle competition. It’s only in the last few years they have had to compete on price and performance.

    If M$’s installed base has fallen to ~75% in established markets and emerging markets are slurping up FLOSS, they are no longer dominant. The world does not need domination.

  13. Clarence Moon says:

    It is not particularly productive for you to refuse to give the devil his due, Mr. Pogson. It makes you look rather strident. You further suggest that Microsofts sales of Windows 7 are “far too small for a dominant player”, but that would mean that there were others who were larger or at least comparable to Microsoft in terms of OS sales and that simply is not the case.

    You fail to understand the concept of an illegal monopoly versus a legitimate one as well. Microsoft has neither, but the market leadership that they possess in regard to Windows is 100% legal arrived at by means of more than 20 years of active participation in world markets.

  14. Clarence Moon wrote, “There is no avoiding the fact that Microsoft Windows dominates a huge collection of personal computer uses and needs”.

    That is not a fact. M$ dominates nothing. It’s near-monopoly on the desktop is/was illegal. If M$ was a person they would be doing hard time. Criminals do not dominate society. Good people greatly out-number bad people. That’s the way it is because we are social beings. Id, family, friends, community all come before M$. We have seen huge migrations from that other OS to GNU/Linux in many places. That would not happen if “domination” were the correct term to describe the monopoly. The monopoly is not there because of the will of the slaves but the will of criminals who will get their comeuppance. M$’s rate of sales of “7”, their best ever desktop OS, are far too small for a “dominant” player. M$ is losing far too often.

  15. Clarence Moon says:

    Almost all markets are collections of niche markets wherein the aggregation simply satisfies some reporting agency’s need to simplify coverage. Similarly, even a gigantic corporation is a collection of smaller businesses with a centralized oversight.

    There is no avoiding the fact that Microsoft Windows dominates a huge collection of personal computer uses and needs, each of which form a niche in the market and a distinction in how a business has to address that niche. Linux can offer substantial advantages in many of these use cases as Mr. Pogson has diligently pointed out.

    To address all niches, though, is a daunting task for any entity that is not already engaged in commerce in the niche at issue. A new entry into an established niche is going to suffer losses for some period of time until the buyers in that niche hear of and are persuaded by the new product’s advantages. If the advantages are not real, forget it.

    Microsoft continues to dominate its businesses that way. Apple has managed to increase its businesses in some of Microsoft’s niches, but has dramatically increased its business in its own niches and has created new ones in the form of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Google has its own businesses, of course, as do all the other successful information technology companies, new or old.

    It is not necessary for a successful business to poach on someone else’s preserve, but the lure of new cash is too strong for most business managers to resist. That is what creates a revolution, but it is also what creates disaster for a company that doesn’t do it right.

    “Stick to your knitting!” is the age-old advice that might prevent this, but it didn’t stop McDonald’s from adding a chicken sandwhich to its menu.

  16. oldman says:

    “Even a laptop will not be convenient in most cases, unless the laptop is 17″.”

    As the user of a 17″ laptop, I can assure you that even in that case typing can be an issue.

    Most of what you say matches my experiences fairly closely. While it is possible to geek up a tablet so that it goes part of the way into content creation, but this is something that the vast majority of tablet users will never do. The fact remains that the mobile revolution is a content consumption revolution. It is actually making inroads mostly into those who either never needed or never wanted any kind of computer, be it desktop or portable – In short people whose business Microsoft would never have gotten anyway.

    THis having been said, it is a tribute to the immenseness of this nascent market that after years of sitting on ARM based prototypes of their OS and applications, microsoft has turned around and will be bringing out the first true cross platform offering of windows since their MIPS offering died. Whether they will succeed is anyone’s guess.

  17. Phenom says:

    Since English is not my mother tongue, I try to stick to shorter, simpler sentences. Guess it is time to try longer ones. 🙂

    Tablets are not good for creating content, especially writing long documents. I dare you sit down and type a 30-page document on a tablet. My bet is that on page 5 you will be screaming your head off for a keyboard. Now, you will tell me that you can plug a keyboard to a tablet, and you will be right. Except that if I have to carry an external keyboard with my tablet, I already end up with a notebook, only less powerful, much pricey, and less convenient for setting up.

    I believe MS port Office to iPads to guarantee full compatibility for their products, and allow users to view documents properly, and make minor modifications on the run. Any serious work, however, would take the user to sit behind his laptop / desktop and work there.

    The same goes for other applications. Business applications have one very outstanding feature – they all involve typing down into the application enormous volumes of data. For example, a ship-brokerage company would register all its contragents, all ships, all policies, all claims, all voyages, all incidents, etc, etc… This goes well only on a good sized keyboard. Even a laptop will not be convenient in most cases, unless the laptop is 17″.

    Tablets have little place there, except for management and highly mobile units, which are normally a rather small part of an organization.

  18. Phenom wrote, “Desktop will remain strong in forseeable future”.

    Not for long. Growth seems only happening in emerging markets. I cannot remember the last time I bought a desktop PC as a system. It was probably 18 years ago. Even at ~$600, an iPad is price-competitive with x86 ATX box+monitor+keyboard+mouse. That’s why Apple can sell them. Businesses are seriously considering replacing a lot of desktops with tablets at any price. Portability, even if the units do not leave the building, is useful, say when moving from one cubicle to the conference room or getting up to give a presentation etc. Tablets are just more portable than notebooks which have already displaced a lot of desktops. Businesses tied to M$’s office suite will jump on tablets with that software. Schools are already finding tablets very useful and they don’t even require M$’s office suite usually.

    In business as in education, time spent “learning the features” of bloated software is time wasted. Really, it is not possible nor useful to have everyone know every feature of every application. A formal course in M$’s office suite can last weeks and does nothing to increase a person’s productivity over LibreOffice. Tests done between OpenOffice.org and M$’s office suite in the good old days when they were very similar showed small differences in productivity that were leaning towards OpenOffice.org. Simpler is better in IT. Easier to use and easier to learn is the ticket. The computer can do the job quickly no matter the user-interface.

  19. The spammers are sending thousands of posts and they are a lot like yours, Phenom. Perhaps yours need to be more relevant to the post? 😉

    Here is an example of spam:
    “I came across this particular web site incorrectly, extremely, that is an excellent website. The site proprietor has carried out an excellent career associated with putting it with each other, the information right here is really as well as helpful after i do analysis. Right now i’m going to bookmark our planet wide internet site to ensure that I’m able to review within the long term.”

    I don’t know how Akismet can tell that from some comments here. Keywords? Akismet now counts 64K spams over the years, about 30 per post of mine. I cannot possibly keep up with that.

  20. Phenom says:

    Another post in the spam.

  21. Phenom says:

    Pogson, you may have your preferences. And other people have theirs, too. One man’s meat is another man’s poison. Pogson’s bloat is another man’s features.

    My point is that porting Office to iPad won’t threated MS’s success on desktop. For them, iPad is just another lucrative market, as i-owners are known to generously pay for hardware and software.

    Desktop will remain strong in forseeable future. But there is a new market emerging – tablets. MS simply want to have their share of sales on that market, too. Mind you, tablet and desktop markets can happily co-exist.

  22. Phenom wrote, “The market is big enough for MS and Apple”.

    I agree. I have never claimed that GNU/Linux would eliminate either but M$’s share is certainly going to fall dramatically. Neither Apple nor M$ have any legitimate claim to perfection in IT. In fact, I find MacOS user-interface the pits, their pricing atrocious and for M$ I have nothing good to say at all. They exceed any reasonable level of complexity, which makes them prone to malware and they are bloated and over-priced. Neither can match GNU/Linux in price/performance.

  23. Phenom. I haven’t banned you. I have no idea why your comments have not showed up. I will check spam… Found 2 in spam…

  24. Phenom says:

    Pogson, am I banned? My comments do not show.

  25. Phenom says:

    Pogs, you are a teacher. Therefore, one thing you should know is to learn from history.

    History has it that Word for Mac was the first version of Word to support WYSIWYG editor, and the Windows version got that, hm, 4-5 years after the version for Mac.

    That didn’t kill Windows back then, when Windows was quite puny, and not supported by anyone but MS alone. Why? Because Macs are expensive, and in limited supply. So are iPads.

    The market is big enough for MS and Apple, Pogson. Simple as that.

  26. George Hostler says:

    I’m glad to see that LibreOffice port to ARM has a good chance for people to see that it is in fact a good product, very useful as an office suite, and best of all, free.

  27. oldman says:

    “M$’s empire, like a column under load, has started to crack. ”

    Do you really think that all of the commercial desktop applications in use are just going to go away Pog?

    You are unfortunately IMHO beginning to sound more and more like the Iraqi information minister under Saddam Hussein in the run up to Gulf War I

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