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The future of the computer industry (especially Microsoft)

This story, 2003 and Beyond is probably already really widespread. It’s a very L-O-N-G but thoughtful analysis of the computer industry of today.
The piece doesn’t paint Microsoft in a very flattering light. One of the things I’ve noticed about most pro-Microsoft pieces on the web is that they say Microsoft isn’t a normal monopoly, because after they got their monopoly, they didn’t raise prices. Well, I’m not necessarily convinced that every monopoly immediately raises prices. A company gets used to a certain level of growth, which increased market share provides. When market share slams into that wall of 100% and stops increasing, revenue stops increasing unless the market grows. Holding prices steady at that point may encourage the market to keep growing. Then, when the market stops growing, if you’re thirsty for continued growth, you start raising prices.

This piece articulates that, and tells what’s next now that the market isn’t growing anymore.

This is the most thoughtful analysis I’ve seen yet of Microsoft’s very recent history and current plans, pointing at XP, .Net, and Palladium and showing which way they’re headed by pointing out the pattern in the most objectionable features of each new technology. It took me a good 30-45 minutes to read, and I’m a pretty fast reader, but it’s worth the investment of your time.

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8 thoughts on “The future of the computer industry (especially Microsoft)”

  1. They didn’t maybe “raise” prices but that is a question of definition in my opinion. I read a great piece once (I can’t remember where) that compared the price of the Microsoft OS’s to their other software. I remember one of the packages they compared it to was the MS Flight Simulator. That package has been around for a long time and was very expensive when brought to the market while gameplay and graphics were lousy at best. However, the price has been dramatically reduced while bringing the flight experience close to the real thing. If Windows had followed the same price pattern we would be paying $20-$30 for it or so.

    Hope you are feeling better!

    /Dave T.

  2. After reading it, I wanted to take a shower; I wasn’t sure whether to be afraid, disgusted, outraged, or ashamed. It poses an interesting ethical dilemma: if, as the author says, the hardware industry is truly controlled by Microsoft, should we continue to purchase computer hardware? One truly disturbing part was where Microsoft has encouraged both Intel & AMD to add a ‘chip’ (?) to their processors which would lock out MS competitors. This is really the conspiracy theory from hell, especially for an avowed computer geek like me! Have I sold my soul to the devil?

  3. The good news is that Microsoft won’t be able to go through with all of this and survive. People won’t give up their existing Windows software. You think all the Windows games published in 2001 will get ported? You think people just suddenly decide not to play a game anymore just because it’s old?

    Longhorn reminds me an awful lot of Microchannel. In 1987, IBM decided to try to kill the clones by bringing out the PS/2 line, and anything better than the two low-end units discarded the ISA bus and replaced it with Microchannel, which they could collect royalties on.

    It didn’t matter that Microchannel actually was better in every possible regard. People didn’t want to re-buy their expensive ISA boards. And if you were buying a new PC, Microchannel boards cost more because of the royalties. Instead of killing the clones, IBM did the opposite and made it stronger.

    So part of me hopes that Microsoft releases Longhorn. The Palladium hardware will hurt, but if the Linux kernel guys can get Linux running on Xbox, they can get it running on a Palladium PC. If by then Linux and WINE will only run 35% of your Windows software, that’s still 35% more than Longhorn. So if Microsoft goes through with this plan, it’s just handed over to Linux its biggest advantage: the huge software installed base.

  4. Dave-
    Well, that little link sure ate up a bunch of my day. But, as you said, well worth it for the compiled info. Time for me to invest some effort in preparing for Linix, I sure hope AutoCAD gets around to a port.

  5. Wow, thanks for making me feel a lot better Dave! Hmm, should we be cheering Longhorn on then? And yeah, I should probably start learning how to use Linux…

  6. You are forgetting one thing: If you run Linux then platform *isn’t* an issue. There is nothing stopping Linux users going out there and buying Apple hardware or IBM PPC hardware or even Sun hardware and running that instead of AMD/Intel derived computers. Sure, it is a bit more expensive but I am beginning to believe that it is worth taking a closer look at.

    I have successfully installed and tested Linux on an older (120MHz) Apple PPC as well as an Alpha 200MHz machine and a Sun Ultra5. The only thing that reminded me that I wasn’t running a regular PC was the keyboard looked and felt different….

    /Dave T.

  7. Remember who the TCPA is made up of gentlemen… all the hardware manufacturers except Apple, pretty much. But Motorola’s in there.

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