Defending the Dark Empire
Posted by aogSaturday, 28 February 2004 at 23:50 TrackBack Ping URL

I’ve noticed that much bashing of Microsoft is very similar to the bashing of President Bush. In both cases the bashers are supporting what they view as an obviously superior alternative which, for no rational reason, is being defeated. It must be the case that there is a conspiracy, massive criminal behaviour, a deluded populace or all of the above. The fact that neither Bush nor Microsoft are saints helps in pointing out alledgedly examples of this massive criminal conspiracy that deluding the people.

Another parallel is that not agreeing that Microsoft is the Most Evil Corporation In History generally leads to abuse, usually of the form of the accusation that one is a shill or blind partisan. The primary difference between the corporate practices of Microsoft and its competitors is that the competitors lost, so no one cares what they did.

In both cases, long term success has been due in roughly equal measures to skill, luck and the incompetence of opponents. In the latter category there is a good parallel between Apple and Microsoft vs. American and Japanese car manufacturers. Microsoft has never been good at innovation, but it has been very good at long term, incremental improvement. In an industry rife with “Not Invented Here” syndrome, that’s been a killer strategy.

As for Microsoft holding back technological innovation, nothing drives innovation like mass markets. Without Microsoft, it’s not clear that computer use would have penetrated as rapidly as it did which helped drive down hardware costs which has been a major economic boon. It’s fine to speculate about some perfect world where a massive corporation earns billions of dollars is a paragon of virtue, but here in the real world one generally gets a selection of greater and lesser villians.