Guy’s Ezine 139 Is the end of Microsoft nigh? – Not yet!
If Microsoft is about to decline, then firstly, I would like to know; secondly, I would like to learn more about its successor. On the other hand, if Microsoft is about to enter a golden Longhorn generation, then I will happily embrace this improved technology of Vista on the desktop and with Server 2008 in the back-office.
To take an extremely long, and an extremely cynical view, everything starts to die as soon as it’s born. If we take a different slant on lifespan, every dynasty comes to an end sooner or later, for example, back in the 19th century the Carnegie Steel Company; from the 1930s film industry, RKO Pictures (King Kong, Citizen Kane), and nearer to the present day, Novel Netware and WordPerfect. All these once great companies eventually fell into decline and were replaced by more successful products.
The key to answering the conundrum, ‘Is the end of Microsoft nigh?’ is to analyse the evidence dispassionately. In particular, to avoid the extremes of ‘hate Microsoft’, or ‘love Microsoft’. Let us take a look at Microsoft’s present domination of the client desktop and the network servers; for me the burning question is who, and what are going to supersede them? The laws of nature have nothing to do with fairness, moral superiority (what ever that is), they have everything to do with adapting to the environment, and the case of computer operating systems, giving people what they want.
What are the alternatives to Microsoft?
In the early stages of a new development, it’s hard to distinguish between a ‘package’ that is about to start a new dynasty from one which heading up an evolutionary blind alley. Could it be that a species of Linux is going to oust Microsoft’s Windows Server 2008? Is star office going to replace Office 2007 or will OpenSUSE 10.3 (GNOME) replace XP and Vista.
Alternatively, will Microsoft continue to see-off this competition until a completely different way of computing establishes dominance? What could that alternative technology be? All I can imagine is a future where instead of running local machines, each of us connects to a huge battery of web servers and run our email, word processing and spreadsheets across the internet using non-Microsoft technology. For this to happen we would need complete trust in the connections, and the security of our data. I cannot see people buying into that model for really sensitive documents. And so the whole idea begins to crumble in my mind.
After some thought, my conclusion is that we are in for another cycle of Microsoft dominance. Vista on the desktop and Windows Server 2008 in the back-office. My problem is not with Microsoft, I have loved their products for the last 25 years. My problem is wanting to spot Microsoft’s successor at the earliest possible stage. When I do I will let you know, until then I will happy to use, and to play with the combination of Vista and Server 2008.
Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it
The one position that I have difficulty understanding is those who say they are going to stick with Windows Server 2003 an XP. Incidentally, it’s strange how people holding this position suddenly sing the praises of XP, when before Vista appeared, they rubbished the XP operating system.
I beg your indulgence to digress, I would like to give a motorbike example why we should learn from the mistakes of history. And why the Luddite’s strategy rarely if ever wins. True bikers in the USA have always had the wonderful Harley Davidson, we English used to ride the superb Triumph Bonneville or the Norton Dominator. One day in the 1960s Japanese companies such as Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki, produced bikes which were faster, more reliable and had better handling. As this revolution unfolded English ‘Bikers’, ‘Greasers’ and ‘Rockers’ said they would sooner eat dirt and wear ‘Mod’ suits, than ride a Jap machine. Two years later they were all riding Suzuki GS bikes.
If we return to more recent times, then between 1992 and 1998 we saw the evolution from Windows for Workgroups and Lan Manager (or Novell Netware) to Windows 98 and NT4. People who made that transition saw huge benefits. The problem is that ten years later, investing similar time and money on an upgrade from XP and W2K3 to Vista and Server 2008, doesn’t produce the same degree of benefit.
Nevertheless, because Vista and Server 2008 work so well together, it will gradually become obvious that this team are superior to XP and Server 2003. Consequently, people will eventually bite the financial bullet and make another upgrade, just as they advanced from Windows 98 with NT4, to XP with Windows Server 200x.
My reading of the market place is that many organizations have been reluctant to upgrade from XP to Vista, but once Windows Server 2008 is launched, a trickle of people will switch to the faster and more secure system. By 2009 the trickle will be come a steady stream. One day we will wake up in 2010 and Server 2008 and Vista will seem like the norm and Windows Server 2003 with XP will look old-fashioned. If this prediction is true, then I need to master the new product, if not then I need to invest my energy in a different technology – if I could only find what that was.
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