Microsoft still occasionally annoys; but with the rise of Firefox and its main backer, Google, it’s getting easier to use PCs all the time as more and more time is spent on the web browser platform rather than the Windows platform. With the bundling of Sun StarOffice with Google’s software downloads pack, it’s time to reflect on just how much ground Redmond has lost to Mountain View, and why on balance that’s a good thing.
I had a professor in college who taught a sort of postulate he called “the law of exact duplicates.” To illustrate it, he told the story of two people walking into an apartment. One person walks in and says, this isn’t my stuff! His friend says, of course it is this is your place, and I’ve seen this stuff before, it’s yours. But, the apartment dweller answers, someone came in and replaced every item of mine with an exact duplicate.
John C. Dvorak writes:
‘Personally, I wonder if the company can survive without Gates there on a day-to-day basis, berating the masochistic coders with his chiding. Two of his favorites include, “Do we actually pay you to work here?” and “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve EVER heard.” People always complain that Steve Jobs is a big meanie to the staff, but Gates is just as bad.’
But here’s where exact duplicates come in–what if Bill Gates if just a great programmer and businessman and is truly surrounded by idiots that really do totally exasperate and disappoint him, stifling the innovation he so vehemently works for?
Ok, well, what’s the difference anyway. The point is that (even in the view of this Windows XP desktop user) Microsoft is a lousy company that treats customers poorly and peripheral stuff like the Zune and the Xbox 360 and the $60 MS Office for Students deal isn’t going to stop the momentum behind the platform being built on Firefox (and IE to some extent, sure) that will run just as easily on cool Apple machines and cheap Linux boxes as the old PC platform–especially if their latest operating system product Windows Vista, which I’ve never used, is as bad as some people say.
Microsoft, after all, has a long history of outright corruption in their busines practices, from becoming a convicted monopolist (a final verdict that the Bush administration arrived to late to overturn–though the judge who reduced the punishment went on to head the rubber stamp FISA court) to paying fees that belonged to Novell to now-bankrupt intellectual-property shakedown racket SCO.
Of course, Republican lobbyist and convicted fraudster Jack Abramoff worked for the law firm of Bill Gates’s dad until the end of 2000.
So the Google guys are paying NASA a million plus to land their private jet at Moffet Field. That’s not a big deal compared to Microsoft.
Seeing the screenshots of Microsoft’s answer to Google Analytics and trying to use the awful IE 7 (despite what people might say, it’s a terrible browser for what it’s worth; even Safari for Windows is better) to test pages today was just the reminder I needed to finally write this post.
Yes, Google has its flaws and downsides. After so much innovation with Ajax-powered apps like Gmail, Reader, Calendar and Docs, they seem to be sort of taking a break. But their programs in the online space are mostly very good, they keep getting better and they are much, much better than similar entries from Microsoft, who will always be off their turf outside the PC desktop platform.