Vista Is the Future of Microsoft, or Not

Ken-Hardin

You know Microsoft has built up more than its fair share of resentment when this Forbes story on its quarterly earnings report includes this sentence:

And just months after its release, Vista is already looking stale. While Microsoft fiddled with Vista, competitors such as Apple, Sun Microsystems and Red Hat kept cranking out release after release of their alternative operating systems.

So, Microsoft "fiddles" while its competitors "crank out," assuming you mean delaying your much-anticipated new OS launch on behalf of a MP3 phone is cranking.

 

Only a massively entrenched incumbent would take such a knock as it reports a 63 percent year-over-year earnings pop.

 

To be fair, the bump is due to a largely artificial event, the release of a new OS -- you can't do that every quarter. And as we and every other outlet have reported, Vista took its sweet time getting here, and it's kinda buggy. It does seem a little soon for a service pack.

 

Microsoft -- like all nigh-monopolies -- does face a threat to its core business that has been throwing off cash for decades. However, it's not the fact that the operating systems that position themselves as rivals to Windows are (or in the case of Leopard, are not) releasing new versions. (Of course, I'm inclined to note that Sun and Linux are actually rivals of Windows Server and the new Longhorn, not the consumer-centric Vista -- but I digress.)

 


I'd be more worried, were I a deeply vested Microsoft stakeholder, about Google's ongoing domination of the online advertising market, where Microsoft has never been a legit player, anyway. Certainly, Redmond's frustrations over the Google-DoubleClick deal indicate that it's not getting its way here, which taints its Netscape-killer era clout of simply running emerging competitors into the ground. People used to complain about Microsoft being the monopoly, remember?

 

But what would really creep me out is the increasing chorus of smart folks and big vendors, including Intel, that are promoting a vision of embedded computing where the operating system simply is a non-issue. Every big software announcement (a la Adobe's Apollo and even Microsoft's own Silverlight) is about programs being delivered in a browser, or in a run-time that doesn't care what OS you happen to have installed.

 

So, the really scary news for Microsoft is not that its headline-grabbing OS release is not living up to many expectations. It's that the Windows version released in 2017 may not grab many headlines at all, except for OEMs who are just picking between commodity platforms on which to distribute their rock-star services and apps.



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