It is rumored that Henry Ford said the consumer was free to pick any color they liked for their Model T, as long as it was black. Similarly, I can only think that Microsoft once felt secure in saying that the consumer was free to pick any operating system as long as it was Windows.
This position is getting harder to defend. Just as you can get your car in any color you can imagine, the growing popularity of the iMac and the myriad flavors of Linux must be causing some sleepless nights in Redmond. Add to this the ever-growing importance of the Internet, initially ignored by Microsoft.
And Ajax is showing its inherent power in a range of applications you might never have thought of in the past. XML itself, the eXtensible Markup Language designed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) , has fulfilled its design goal of simplicity and usability over the Internet.
Further, if you combine Ajax with CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and with Web design software such as Dreamweaver CS 4, you're able to utilize the power of the Spry framework, Adobe's rendition of Ajax. Spry frameworks as the main interface to CSS have proven a powerful tool for developers.
Interestingly, Microsoft has not kept up with these innovations and is a Johnny-come-lately to the Ajax party. The company seems to be losing the merit badge of originality and creativity in a range of areas. To wit:
- Browsers. Internet browsers, such as Mozilla/Firefox, Apple's Safari, Opera, and SeaMonkey may not be taking over from Internet Explorer, but the penetration of the combined competition must have Microsoft looking over its shoulder.
- Mobile applications. The iPod has between 80,000 and 100,000 micro applications, most offering Web connectivity wirelessly -- entirely independently of the Windows platform. Some offer pioneering productivity in a small package. So who needs Windows?
- Poor PR. In various Microsoft newsgroups and public sites, Microsoft adherents are typically called "fanboys," and what used to be a universally respected attitude is quite often ridiculed.
Apple's iMac advertising sort of tells the tale as well: The Microsoft Windows seal of approval does not guarantee success/infallibility for members of the Microsoft Windows family. Windows 7 does not have the universality Microsoft expected it to have.
There is a growing consensus that Microsoft could have done well with a full-featured, time-limited demo of Vista, or at least with better meshing with virtualization under Vista. Also, the vendor could have supplied a full dual-boot configuration of Windows 7/Vista.
People just do not trust Microsoft any longer. And Microsoft has no one to blame but its own apparent arrogance.
Is it possible that the ubiquitous Emperor of Microsoft is wearing no clothes? I don't see any.
— Ross M. Greenberg is an experienced software author, journalist, technology writer, and online forum and community manager.