Who's going to step up to Microsoft?

Lots of people are busy whining about Microsoft being the big, evil monopolist, and if it wasn’t because they forced their software down our throats, they wouldn’t be where they are today.

The fact is, Microsoft is simply overall best at making great software. Sure, programmers hate MS because their code is so klugy. And they have security issues. And some of it is really bad. But the overall approach to software means they’re good all-round: It works, it performs well, it solves the problem that the users have, it’s got a reasonable user interface, it’s shipped at the right time, they have decent support and bug fix updates, and they’re extremely good at marketing and selling and strategy.

All these factors, and more, need to be taken into consideration when a software company is evaluated. In fact, I believe the right metric to apply is to measure them all on a scale from zero to one, and then multiply them to get the overall score. This means, that if you really suck at just one of these things, you’re out of the game. Lots of companies end up like that.

Who’s there to give them serious competition? Oracle? I don’t think so. Their products are buggy and ugly and hard to use. Computer Associates? Probably not. Compuware? Don’t know, never saw any of their products. Novell? Hah. SAP? Nope. Adobe is actually doing a pretty good job, as are Intuit, and Symantec. IBM? Come on! Apple and Sun are way too focused on hardware to be a serious competitor in the software business.

So yes, Microsoft’s monopoly position does have something to say, but let’s not forget that Microsoft’s products usually are better, and when they finally win over some competitor, it’s because their competitor makes some stupid mistake, not because Microsoft cuts off their air supply. That was the case with WordPerfect, and with Netscape. Intuit is still hanging in there, because they haven’t yet made a mistake.

Can we please get some software companies that will compete a bit more seriously?


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