The Truth About Microsoft

Apple vs. MicrosoftI’m continually amazed by news columnists that predict the death of Microsoft. Just this morning I was reading the news and saw a slew of articles in Google News about predicting a death within the next decade and possibly within just five years from now. So many people seem to hear the knell of the death bells. So are a bunch of people really hearing things that aren’t there? Yep. Here’s what they are hearing, why they are hearing it and why it’s all in their imaginations.

Usually the main point that is brought up is that Microsoft has no idea about what Web 2.0 is. After all, their browser market share has been taking a beating for years now and is now below 60% from near total domination. This comes amid allegations from Google that the browser is the way of the future and the OS won’t matter sooner rather than later. I wrote a very popular, if not controversial column on why Chrome OS will fail.

Regardless, Microsoft won’t dominate the browser market, that much is for certain. But there are other markets to consider. The phone market. Okay, well they lost that too. Clearly they don’t stand a chance then.

You also hear people cry foul about the fact that Microsoft has dumped Windows Live Journal (their mostly unheard of blogging platform) in favor of collaborating with WordPres to provide a better blogging experience for their end users.

Tablets? Microsoft has been pushing them for years without much success. Then Apple comes along and shows everybody a radical new way of doing it which has becoming a huge success.

Wow, that really does sound grim, doesn’t it? Those bells are ringing louder than ever now… But no matter, it’s all in your mind for one simple reason: most people have absolutely no understanding of what Microsoft actually does. Lets start with that and then go on to explain why Microsoft is actually stronger than ever (not to mention that their stock is soaring for the Q3 2010 and analysts are in full agreement). No, we aren’t all nuts. Here is the real story.

First of all, all that the average person off the street sees from Microsoft is Windows and Office on their home computer. They probably also have a work computer with a Microsoft installed whether it be 2000, XP, probably not Vista or 7. You might ask yourself  a question that rarely gets adequately answered: why do businesses run with Windows all the time? It’s horrendous. Then some people will say that they simply have old applications that were built for Windows which would be a pain to port over to something better or newer. Maybe, but that’s a very myopic view of the whole situation.

The reason that the Windows OS is run in the corporate world is simple: domain controllers equipped with Active Directory and desktops that fall in line with whatever the domain controller says. Say what? Active directory is one of the many things that most people don’t know about that is a prime example of how little most realize is going on. It is quite simply a way to manage groups of computers centrally from a server. You can remotely turn a computer joined to a domain to anything from a kiosk that runs one application and is totally locked down to a full development machine. You can enforce corporate policy and create a uniform and managed experience for all your users. The truth of the matter is, companies absolutely love it, and it really is all that.

Windows is actually built from the ground up to be run in a managed environment. The version that most people run at home has almost always traditionally been a port from the corporate built that allows users to run standalone machines. It was always an afterthought though, and the focus always has been on business requirements.