The fall of a giant, Microsoft4/9/2014
Listing off tech industry power players is no easy task. Sure you start with hardware and software giants such as Apple, Google and maybe Samsung, but what about the Internet properties? That means Facebook, eBay, Twitter, Amazon and possibly Yahoo. But then there are high tech manufacturers and information service providers yet to be considered: Intel, HP, IBM and Oracle, for example. The list could go on. Now, if we were building this list in the ’90s, it would have been hard to argue that a truer giant of the industry existed other than Microsoft.
Windows, the operating system offered by Bill Gates’ high tech software company Microsoft, is the most dominant creation in the history of software. No matter the iteration — 95, 98, XP, ME, NT, Vista, etc. — Windows controlled an impossible share of the consumer, professional, enterprise and government markets. However, the rise of mobile computing cracks the Microsoft monument, and its dominance has crumbled. The company once famously sued for monopolizing the software world is now considered by many to be second-tier. Can you name one friend with a Windows phone?
Still, the last month has been huge for Microsoft. First, the company’s most successful Windows iteration, XP, was finally retired. After years of warning, the company will no longer offer updates, security or support for the platform, despite still being used by many individuals, companies and devices like cars and cash registers.
Second, Microsoft is dissolving the Windows dependence of its popular Office suite and releasing it for mobile devices such as Apple’s iPad and the plethora of Google Android devices. Third, Microsoft introduced Satya Nadella as its third-ever CEO, and finally, the company will no longer require a license fee for developers and device manufacturers to use Windows on devices with screens 9 inches or smaller.
Free windows and platform-free Office are huge for Microsoft, but there’s no guarantee users will return to Windows reliance. Apple and Google made these moves years ago and recruited millions of impatient Windows users along the way. As profitable as it is, Microsoft’s ’90s death grip on computer users has loosened to a limp handshake, and, smart moves aside, it may never tighten again. CV
Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb.