The OS Wars

Microsoft Gets its Groove On … Finally!


“’Goodbye my love.’ He doesn’t say it. There’s no room for softness… not in Sparta. No place for weakness. Only the hard and strong may call themselves Spartans. Only the hard, only the strong.” – Dilios (300, Warner Bros – 2006)

The grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence. It just seems to be human nature to want your grass … and theirs! We don’t just want our share of the business that is out there, we want our unfair share.

That’s certainly true of the PC/CE/communications industry. It’s even more fun when you’re tweaking the biggest bear in the forest. Apple has always had fun pulling Microsoft’s tail and then running back to their walled garden. Google had fun poking the lumbering giant because they were part of the hip, free generation (ok, so they follow your every move, record your clicks/visits and sell the info — big deal). But suddenly, the Gates/Ballmer crew got the lumbering giant moving forward.


Figure 2 – Stimulating the Troops – Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer is finally in his element as the rough and ready cheerleader, leader of the worldwide OS/apps/service organization. With every passing day, he sees more things right, more tools the company can deliver to partners and customers. Finally, he looks like he really believes MS is back on the offensive. Source – Microsoft





And the halo-haired general seems to have a battle plan to take on all challengers. Bing is pretty darn good. Good enough to shake up Schmidt’s team. Win 7 looks to be very solid. MS made available a ton of drivers and open source code to the Linux community…gasp!


Figure 3 – MS Knows Clouds – MS has a battle plan that includes channel partners, open solutions folks, other “friendly” HW/SW firms and is ready to seed all of the industry clouds with Microsoft products and service. There’s a lot of air to fill, enough for all of their allies. Source — IDC

Just as cloud computing got sexy (read free), BAM!!! They have solutions for that. It’s like Bill gave Steve a little pep talk when he turned over command…“Come back with your shield, or on it.” OK, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic.

Marching Forward

Every day, we uncover more and more features, benefits, capabilities for computers. Every morning, there’s a new technology, new application opening up new opportunities for the big and small guys.


Figure 4 – More of More – No matter where you turn, even in a struggling economy, hardware/software/service firms are introducing new technology, new products, new applications, new opportunities. Source – IDC/US Govt.

The industry, the world, keeps changing. While the bravest of us are at the innovator and early adopters phases of Geoffrey Moore’s Chasm, the majority of the world are what he classified as laggards, early/late majorities.

Oh sure, our kid can’t wait to jump online with Google’s Chrome; but heck, he never experienced the joy of loading software from a 5.25” or 8” floppy! Then, we asked him what happens if he has a problem with Chrome or some of Google’s “brand spanking new” apps.He couldn’t be bothered when we laid out the facts to him about the major OSs out there.


Figure 5 – 20 Years of Development – Microsoft refined Windows over the past 20+ years. Apple has worked on their OS for almost 20 years. Linux (an outgrowth of Unix) is old. All continue to be works in progress. But Google’s Chrome won’t even be a year old when they’ll throw it out there for folks to grab and use … trouble-free. Source — Gartner

Windows has been around for 20 plus years. But even with legions working to solve problems, they still don’t have it 100 percent right. Apple’s OS? Jobs pounded the difference into a lot of folks’ psyche more than 20 years ago.


Figure 6 – Protect the Fortune – Apple dislikes DRM except for their protective layer and they defend it vigorously at their iTunes and Apps stores. Users don’t complain – too much – but boy, it sure does irk folks they don’t want to let in. Source – Warner Bros.

Take a break right now to use Bing or Google and ask about Mac problems … they’re there! Not that it matters much to Jobs and the Kool-Aid drinkers. They’re just minor inconveniences for having access to all your entertainment “choices” inside Apple’s garden.


Figure 7 – Shattering the Establishment – Apple’s 1984 ad set the company’s systems apart from the warlords. The followers, who are vehemently loyal, had a tough time adjusting to Intel inside and Windows sharing their system, but they’re “rising above it all” now because … well, just because. Source — Apple

Linux? If you’re on the right side (really techie) it’s great, but for ordinary folks getting support is a little scary.

Chrome? So, what are the chances of Schmidt’s team making it work 100 percent when it’s released in a year and a half? They’ve even said that when it’s released you will see “the end of malware!”

Disregarding kids who love a challenge, Google like Xerxes has said, “I will erase even the memory of Sparta from the histories! Every piece of Greek parchment shall be burned. Every Greek historian, and every scribe shall have their eyes pulled out, and their tongues cut from their mouths. Why, uttering the very name of Sparta, or Leonidas, will be punishable by death! The world will never know you existed at all!” Somehow, we just think that’s gonna work.

Do you think people who really count on their systems are going to flip over knowing that Google already had two flaws in their Chrome browser app?

Partner Rally

At Microsoft’s WPC (Worldwide Partner Conference), the burly general stood before his troops, laid out a ton of plans, programs and activities that showed the company was finally moving in the right direction (and yes, just in time).

He gesticulated (we had to look it up too!) and repeated Dilios’ words… “The enemy outnumber us a paltry three to one, good odds for any Greek. This day we rescue a world from mysticism and tyranny and usher in a future brighter than anything we can imagine.”

They don’t have to do everything … just the ones that count.For example, Windows is the backbone – the underpinnings – of SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems used around the globe. You know, that’s the stuff governments, utility grids rely on.

Financial institutions and companies that simply don’t want to be bothered by little things like malware probably bet their fortunes on it as well. Ballmer’s team and partners are far from being over confident about the battles ahead. But they have made it clear they aren’t going to bow down to the web click counter.

Like King Leonidas, Ballmer said, “But the, uh, the idea of kneeling, it’s – You see, slaughtering all those men of yours has, uh, well it’s left a nasty cramp in my leg, so kneeling will be hard for me.” Despite the cost difference discussions on the air, Apple’s lawyers have been heard to repeat King Leonidas, “There’s no reason we can’t be civil, is there?”


Figure 8 – Friends, Allies – OK, so maybe Microsoft and Apple aren’t bosom-buddy friends, but they are certainly allies of convenience. Sure, Apple’s lawyers may not like the cool series of MS ads but cripes, it’s been years since Gates and Ballmer had any solid marketing they could be proud about. Then too, there’s Google. Apple has determined the Redmond folks are maybe less evil than the guys in the neighboring town. Note – they only hold hands for pictures. Source — Apple

Oh sure, MS still has Zune; but real people still shop at iTunes. MS will soon have their practical stores “close to” the Apple stores and more folks are wondering if they’re hip enough for a Mac. But Apple still sells enough of their $1,000+ systems to tick off Dell, HP, Acer and others.

Secretly, Ballmer likes what the sybaritic Apple folks do, but there’s the technological leadership of the world to command. He just wishes he could get in licks like Jobs did – change Schmidt’s status on his board of directors, just say no to Google calls on his iPhone.

Sometimes you just need a reluctant ally!!!

More Good than Bad


Figure 9 – Target Practice – Ballmer and his troops have taken nearly all the fun out of throwing lances and shooting arrows at Microsoft. They just finally seem to be marching to the same drummer and everyone is in step. Looks like it is just in time! Source – Warner Bros.

Hey, it’s been so easy to take shots at MS all these years so it’s kinda’ tough to admit that they are finally doing more things right than wrong:

  • Windows 7 is pretty darn solid
  • Office 2010 looks really good
  • Bing is the second most mentioned search engine where bunches of them exist (so Yahoo! signed the MS enlistment papers)
  • They’ve made “peace” with the EU
  • They’re allying with the open source community
  • Azure is looking better and better as a cloud computing platform
  • Their BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) makes sense to a lot of partners and users
  • They’ve got a sharpy from Wal-Mart to run the store operation

Ballmer seems to relish a good fight and loves to remind folks, “You see, old friend? I brought more soldiers than you did.” And those MS legions remind the competition they’re not just Greeks bearing gifts when they respond…“HA-OOH! HA-OOH! HA-OOH!”

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