Growing woes for Microsoft?

Microsoft has lost another major client, The US Navy:

The new way of fighting is built around Internet standards, including web pages, routers, Ethernet, instant messaging, and chat rooms. Casualties appear to be both expensive customized systems and Microsoft software.

What users probably don’t like about Microsoft:

  1. High price tags for many of its products, especially with the advent of free or relatively affordable open source software. CNET News, July 21 – Microsoft to pay US$1.1 billion back to consumers and corporate clients who have been overcharged.
  2. Microsoft products, having proprietary source code and tonnes of ‘legalese’, are also less easily customisable by users than open source software
  3. Microsoft products are infamous for numerous security loopholes. I admit it’s good that problems are acknowledged and fixed, but how did this happen in the first place?
  4. Loss of goodwill. It’s the general arrogance of a monopoly which has eradicated or swallowed up, by fair means or foul, many competitors such as Netscape, relying instead on its huge war chest to battle it out in the courtroom.

Many users have stuck to Windows, Internet Explorer and Office, because that’s what came pre-installed; that’s what everyone at work is using; they’ve been using it for years and don’t feel the need to try anything new. It’s perfectly understandable. Anyway, more programs are written for Windows precisely because of this vicious cycle.

But obviously trends are changing. With slashed IT budgets, many corporations are turning to cheaper alternatives, and alarm bells are ringing. Subsidies are now being dished out, with Linux being singled out as the biggest threat.

Yet Microsoft shouldn’t fight the open source movement but go with the flow. It has already taken some steps in its integration of .NET with XML web services. But it has failed to ‘innovate’, despite its assertions, in many other areas. Internet Explorer may be the most popular browser now, but it is lacking in functionality that others such as Safari and Mozilla, provide – popup ad blocking, tabbed windows – little improvements that make the surfing experience all the more user friendly. Also, it has some well-documented CSS bugs which have not been fixed.

And now that Internet Explorer will no longer be a standalone browser, I wonder whether the Windows-IE alliance will hold out despite growing user defections to alternative operating systems. Only time will tell.


  1. Mike Chapman

    I need to make decisions, as a manager in a school in England, about how to clear oursleves of Microsoft products. Why? We cannot afford them. I am also unsure of the morality of teaching children that Microsoft Word is the word processor and Excel is the spreadsheet.
    To start with we are putting Open Office on each students machine as well as Microsoft office and encouraging teaching staff to talk about and use both. It is not easy. Next year I want to start removing the Microsoft products.
    A second aim is to give each student a presence on the web from age 11. I intend to use Movable type for this, hence the work that I am doing at the moment. Thanks for your helpful responses to my questions.

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