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Is Microsoft Biggest Bully on Vendor Playground?

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Based on the largely underwhelming response to Microsoft's Vista and its forthcoming Office 2007, it's easy to see why the software giant wants to muscle its way into new markets.

 

It's been snapping up companies to beef up its offerings in security, CRM, business intelligence, systems management and just about every other market segment out there.

 

What does this mean for enterprise technology buyers? Good news in the short term. Prices will likely fall as Microsoft attempts to make a big bang by undercutting incumbent providers.

 

In the long term, however, the picture gets a lot more fuzzy.

 

It's possible that competition from a player as formidable as Microsoft will spur companies to offer better products, say some folks quoted in this Redmondmag.com article. It's also possible that Microsoft domination in any market segment would mean fewer vendor choices and less flexible pricing.

 

The love/hate relationship many companies have with Microsoft and its hold over their desktops may extend to nearly every corner of the enterprise.

 

Microsoft has been quick to use its Software Assurance services program as a vehicle for bundling products and services. For example, it plans to offer the Soft Grid technology it bought from Softricity only to SA subscribers, along with asset and group policy management, plus diagnostic and recovery tools.

 

This reminds us a bit of Microsoft's bundling of the Internet Explorer browser into its Windows 95 OS, a widely derided move that essentially knocked Netscape out of business and earned MSN a reputation as the biggest bully in the software space -- a reputation it has since done little to overcome.

 

Beause of its sheer size, if nothing else, Microsoft will likely always dance around the question of whether it's a monopolist or just a super-capitalist. Let's just hope its moves are a bit more subtle than those of CEO Steve Ballmer. ("Whoo! C'mon, give it up for me!")

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