I’ve been thinking recently about the long, dark shadow Microsoft has cast over computing, the decades of buggy, virus-prone operating systems that are stable at best and expensive resource hogs at worst. Offices have been forced to operate according to Microsoft’s dictates, rather than work in a truly innovative fashion.
But the real question is, why? Why has a substandard OS from Microsoft dominated computing to such a degree? How have they maintained a virtual stranglehold on computing? If they suck so bad, where are the alternatives? Let’s examine the playing field: Mac – lovely, reliable, expensive computers! Linux – hundreds of flavors of virus-free, resource-light systems that can adapt to just about every need. Google Chrome – inexpensive, fast Web-oriented devices, perfect for Web & email use, if that’s all you need. What do they all lack? Business software, of course. None of those systems can run Quickbooks (well, there’s a substandard version for Mac) or any of the myriad business applications out there. Without business buy-in, no one is willing to make an investment in anything above the least common denominator of Windows. Not to mention the fact that Microsoft has sued the pants off anyone who makes emulation software.
So how long will we be stuck with this lowest of common denominators? A couple more years, until Web-based business apps come of age. When all the work is done in a browser or Web-based interface and data are stored on a central server, the end user platform will become less relevant and companies will be able to buy for cost and reliability, which will naturally steer them away from Microsoft products and towards open source products such as Linux, Chrome and Android.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to Microsoft – without them, I’d be out of work! But I’m looking forward to a future where we can all innovate and create without being stuffed into Microsoft’s creaky, badly-fitting box.