Breakup in Microsofts future?

Let me begin by saying that I do not believe that there is currently any plans for Microsoft to break up any time soon.  Further, I don’t believe it would be all that great of an idea.  Sure it would make it easy to weed out the not so good sectors of the business, but then the Xbox team would have been out of a job years ago if being self-maintaining was part of the overall plan.  The beauty of a company like Microsoft is that it can put it’s economic weight behind any project that it wants.  Bill Gates wants a gaming console to help soften the walls of the home entertainment market?  Enter the XBox.

Stowe Boyd has an excellently precise post in response to something that Scoble said and as a result, I find myself quoting it.

Scoble said: “So, I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of weeks. How do we tune up Microsoft’s economic engine and get ready for the 2010’s?

To which Stowe replied: “Say, brother.. You’re quoting Martin Luther King, and thinking about four or more years from now. Dr. King was all about change now. But mt heart is not bleeding for the lowly employees of Microsoft, who wish it were all better. They are all well-compensated. I am thinking about the people out here, in the wilds, the customer. You keep talking about shareholders and employees, but what about they guy using the products?

Now, Stowe goes on to suggest that Microsoft break into “a dozen smaller, hungrier companies”, which as I said above, I do not agree with.  Sure those “smaller, hungrier companies” may “do something glorious”, but at what cost.  At the cost of the remaining companies failing to make the turn on the “moonshot” and fading off into oblivion.

So, besides a major break-up of the monopoly, how does Microsoft go on?  I think Stowe got it right in saying that Scoble’s focus has been in the wrong place.  The user is the driver for Microsoft.  The user should determine where the focus goes.  Which gets me to thinking…  I’m a user…  I can determine the focus.  Well, me and another couple of billion users around the world.

I have to admit that I am far from a Microsoft hater.  I am, it seems, one of the lucky few who actually had a good experience with Windows ME.  I still have problems from time to time with any Microsoft product, but I actually feel that some of their products have made progress.  IE in particular.  (ouch… I can feel the flames now…)  Where Microsoft needs to improve most is in pricing and reliability.

I believe that the multi-tiered Windows versions that Vista will be released into is an attempt at better pricing, but the problem is that there are six versions and even the lowest priced one will still be in the $100 range.  If I’m going to be required to upgrade my OS every 5-6 years, I don’t want to have to shell out that much for it. Especially if I’m only getting a shell of the full OS. Why not take a more pro-active stance and reduce the price and offer pay-per-support.  Red-Hat does it.  And most everyone is gonna need support at some point.

What else…  IE should be released from its windows bondage.  No more hard linking it into the Windows operating system.  Sure it makes it weaker in the market, but it also improves it’s image as well.  Plus, lets face it, the only people that will reallly go through the trouble to switch to something like firefox or opera have already.  While we are releasing software from bondage, get rid of Windows Media Player.  Completely.  Bury it.  It barely limps through half the media that I try and make it play.

Finally, Microsoft is a software company.  Try to stick to that.  Very soon Apple will be a hardware only company and you can sell Windows to all the Apple freaks fans too.  Get back to the basics of being a software company.  The Xbox is great, but it’s a major distraction from your true business.  The money that has been dumped into the Xbox division is an even bigger distraction.  The Origami project is another good example of this.  Why spend so much money teasing about a hardware product that you don’t even build?  Sure it runs Windows, but you should have been touting the Windows advancements, not the hardware.  Reduce the monetary distractions of things like that and you can probably afford to charge a little less for Windows.  That would make me happy.  And remember, I’m a user.

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About Shane Ede

Shane Ede is an IT guy by day and a Entrepreneurial Blogger by night. You can follow him here on Thatedeguy or over on Twitter and Google+.


  1. required name says

    > Very soon Apple will be a hardware only company and you can sell Windows to all the Apple fans too

    Obviously you don’t get it. The Mac is all about the user experience — not the hardware. Sure, the hardware is top quality and easy on the eyes, but it’s just sexy boxen without its soul. Apple will be out of business if its user base gives up on the Mac OS and enabling software. I’m Joel Hyatt, and you can have my word on it.

  2. Thatedeguy says

    Oh, I do get it Joel. The problem is that you and other Mac enthusiasts assume that Steve Jobs is Apple through and through. Problem is that Steve Jobs is a business man. He saw the value in switching to Intel chips. Funny thing is, there was an initial uproar from the Mac enthusiasts like yourself and then it went away. Just like it will when he announces that Apple is shifting focus towards the Apple hardware and are stopping development on the OS. It’s a natural progression. It happens in the business world just as it does in the natural world. Somethings only last for a time and they fade away. Sure some will have “vintage” copies of Mac OS and will have “vintage” Mac’s to install it on or it will get released into the Open Source community and they’ll take over and it will become the next Linux, but in the end, Windows will be the dominant OS just like it is now.
    Please don’t read this as being a Gates worshiper, but sometimes we have to accept the facts the way they are. Jobs opened the door with the switch to Intel and once those doors are opened, it will be mighty improbable that they will close.

    P.S. don’t you question why Apple would release something like Boot Camp if they really planned on keeping the Mac OS for the long run?

  3. Fernando Naranjo says

    Ok, I just dont want to write in english. You deserve my plain words.
    Yo soy un Apple freak fan, pero no he considerado establecer una cruzada religiosa contra los seguidores de Gate$, ni tampoco contra Windows. Pienso que tanto poder económico, combinado con la poca eficiencia y eficacia para generar un rápido valor agregado en el sistema operativo Windows XXX o como se llegue a llamar en el futuro, como aporte para el usuario final deja mucho que desear, mientras que Apple, con una muy pequeña parte de la capacidad económica de Microsoft, está generando mejores productos de software, incluido Mac OSX y mucho mejor integrados a su entorno de hardware, lo que no se puede garantizar en PC. Las exigencias de memoria, la sensiblidad a los virus y el spam, los errores de lógica en la GUI de Windows han permeado la confianza. La verdad, no estaría diciendo con grito herido que el mundo seguirá el camino del Microsoft eternamente. Recuerde que M$ no inventó la rueda de los sistemas operativos, soamente supo vender muchas ideas, algunas de ellas hurtadas, pero al éxito de Microsoft no le alcanza el dinero para ocultar la historia y honestamente espero que la historia le cobre su falta de escrúpulos. De qué manera? No puedo dar una respuesta tan segura e inmediata como usted lo hace, igualmente Roma no se diluyó en tres días pero de dicho imperio ya no queda sino la historia. Tal vez pueda alcanzar a ver en el futuro una variedad de especies más inteligentes y menos monolíticas en el ecosistema de los Sistemas Operativos.

    Editors note:  I’ve translated this for those of us that don’t speak spanish: 

    I am an Apple freak fan, but I have not considered to establish one crossed religious one against the followers of Gate$, nor either against Windows. I think that as much economic power, combined with the little efficiency and effectiveness to generate a fast added value in the operating system Windows XXX or as it is gotten to call in the future, as it contributes for the end user leaves much to be desired, whereas Apple, with a very small part of the economic capacity of Microsoft, is generating better products of software, including Mac OSX and far better integrated to its surroundings of hardware, which is not possible to be guaranteed in PC. The exigencies of memory, the sensiblidad to the virus and the Spam, the logic errors in the GUI of Windows have permeado the confidence. The truth, would not be saying with wounded shout that the world will follow the way of the Microsoft eternally. Remember that M$ did not invent the wheel of the operating systems, soamente knew to sell many ideas, some of stolen them, but to the success of Microsoft it does not reach the money to hide history to him and honestly I hope that history receives its lack to him of scruples. How? I cannot give a so safe and immediate answer as you do it, also Rome was not diluted in three days but of this empire no longer it is left but history. Perhaps it can reach to see the future in a variety of more intelligent and less monolithic species in the ecosystem of the Operating systems.

  4. Thatedeguy says

    Lets not mince words Fernando. Yes, MS did borrow(steal) some of the technology that they are using. Of course for that matter, ask Steve Jobs who coded the original Mac OS? Think Xerox wants it back?
    I would agree that OSX does appear to have less bugs, spam, and virii than Windows does, but I would also offer that that is because it is not the one with a 80% market share of the PC market. I think that if Mac OS would gain that kind of market share, it would end up just as bad as Windows does. The larger it gets the better the target it is.
    I hope not too much was lost in the translation Fernando, but my spanish is poor at best.
    Me Habla Espanol un Pequito.

  5. monoclast says

    Three words for you: “In your dreams…”

    Apple is, and probably always will be, a software and hardware company. Statements like yours (that Apple will soon be a hardware-only company) prove to the rest of us that you simply do not get what makes Apple tick / what makes Apple successful, even in the face of the enduring monopolistic M$ behemoth. Apple may make most of their money on hardware; but make no mistake about it – it’s software that sells Macs. Take away Mac OS X and related software, and hardware sales will drop like a hot potato. The only reason Mac lovers are willing to continue buying Intel Macs is because Apple has assured them that Mac OS X runs well on them. If they were faster, but only ran Windows, sales would drop off – you can count on it. Question for you: Do you believe that the iPod is as successful as it is because of the hardware only?

    I think Apple created Boot Camp to show that they truly are not going to do anything to stop folks from running Windows on Intel Macs, and maybe to draw in a few more of the Windows-using crowd to buy Macs. More Macs sold equals a more profitable Apple equals more joy for those of us who do “get it”.

    With regards to Apple, Xerox, and Microsoft:

    Here’s the difference you are missing: Xerox, out of pride, willingly gave Apple a demonstration of their GUI. Xerox didn’t give Apple one single line of code. Instead, Apple only took an idea away and then added to it and refined it to create Mac OS. Apple stole nothing – Xerox willingly gave Apple the ideas. Microsoft, on the other hand, started with no ideas other than those they got from looking at Mac OS. After asking Apple for help writing their own Mac OS applications (Microsoft Works, I believe), Microsoft was lucky to have gotten their hands on the actual Mac OS source code that Apple created. Microsoft then turned right around and used it to create Windows. Apple screwed up by trusting Microsoft with the source code to begin with; but that’s neither here nor there. When Apple filed suit, Microsoft denied the charges and changed Windows just enough to make it appear different enough to win their defense in court. That’s the true story . Those of us actually around at the time this happened remember it well and wish people like you would stop trying to write your own history.

    With regards to Mac security:

    By your statement that the only possible reason Mac OS isn’t plagued by security vulnerabilities and malware is because of its relatively low market share, you admit to us all that you have completely dismissed any possibility that an operating system can be more secure by design. That’s a sad little world you live in, my friend, where all operating systems, regardless of design, are somehow just as vulnerable as the next. Were you to actually think about the issues a little, and do a little background investigation into the matter, you’d know, like those of us who have taken the trouble to do so, that contrary to what seems to be popular belief, an operating system can indeed be more or less secure by design. Maybe, just maybe, if you had bothered to learn a little bit, you might see that design most definitely comes into play. In your world, somehow, default open ports don’t matter, default user security policies are worthless, automatically running email attachments (or not) changes nothing, etc. Back here in the real world, however, these things do indeed make a difference. Sure, there’s an inkling of truth to the statement that with popularity comes more malware; but to completely ignore the technological side of it is a bad idea (unless you are delusional and just plain don’t care about whether your position is right or wrong).

    Doesn’t it irk you to no end that Mac OS X, after what, over five years now, still enjoys a relatively virus-free existence compared to all flavors of Windows ever released? Gosh, if only Apple’s market share were higher – then we’d see justice!

    With regards to Microsoft breakup:

    I don’t see it happening; but it does happen from time to time in my dreams. 🙂

  6. Thatedeguy says

    Such anger monoclast.
    Let me get a few things straight though… because Apple only had a “demonstration” and then copied the GUI makes it less dastardlly than copying with the source code available? I guess I see copying as copying. Is’nt the theft of an idea the same as theft of code?
    As for security, if you knew you were capable of robbing a bank and getting away with it, but one bank had 100 billion in it and the other had 100 million, which would you rob? The sheer number of users of Windows over Mac OS makes Windows a much better looking target and as a result nearly 100% of the effort is put into finding and exploiting holes in Windows. If Mac OS were to ever garner that same attention, you would soon find your precious OS full of just as many holes and virii.

  7. Yeah, I’m angry – sue me. 🙂

    To equate Apple seeing a demo of Smalltalk, the Xerox GUI, and creating something more from the basic idea with Microsoft outright blatantly stealing source code is a crime in itself if you ask me. At any rate, those of us who were actually around when it happened know exactly how it went down, and there’s nothing you can do to change that, thankfully.

    You can blab on all you want about how the security landscape might change if such-and-such were to happen — it doesn’t change the fact that Mac OS X is technologically more secure than Windows, now and for the past five years. To ignore the reality is to be delusional.

  8. Thatedeguy says

    monoclast, if I go to your website and “mimic” your template and design, is that stealing? Most would say yes. How it went down is rather irrelevant. We’re argueing semantics. What I feel is just as much a theft as another you do not. We must agree to disagree on that point.
    I will agree that Mac OS X has been more secure than windows now and in the last five years. What I will not agree to is that comparing their levels of attacks since the usage of one is so much higher than the other. It is somewhat delusional to assume that Mac OS X is the superior OS simply because it has been attacked less considering that it only holds a small market share in comparison. When(or if) they get to similar market shares, please come back and we will see how secure and stable Mac OS is in comparison. Until then, I’ll continue with my “delusional” ideas. 😉

  9. monoclast says

    Okay, we will agree to disagree about who stole what. That’s fine with me. 🙂 I know the truth anyway.

    When it comes to security, you and a lot of others are just plain wrong. Again, in your world, somehow, default open ports don’t matter, default user security policies are worthless, automatically running email attachments (or not) changes nothing, etc. You are choosing to ignore the factual aspects that make Windows and Mac OS X different. Despite your insistence that popularity is what determines security, technological features do make the difference. To ignore reality is to be delusional. 😉

  10. Thatedeguy says

    Again, I’m not arguing that Windows is a secure thing. I would agree that it has it’s share of problems. What I am trying to say is that I think that Mac OS has it’s own set of security holes, I just believe that nobody has taken the time to expose them as yet. It’s easy to say the levee holds water if there’s no water in the canal.

  11. Fernando Naranjo says

    Muchas gracias por la traducción, sobre todo porque podría usar algunos giros semánticos que muchas veces no sé expresar en inglés. De otro lado, tu español está bien, pero puede mejorar…
    Bien, retomando el tema de M$ Windows vs Mac OS X, en cierto modo se podría comparar con la economía del petróleo, que a pesar de ser un recurso no renovable y que quizás las reservas actuales puedan durar menos de 100 años, seguimos insistiendo en el mismo, forzando la crisis por falta de existencias en el futuro, en vez de promover modelos de energía limpia, sostenible y hasta más segura como la fotovoltaica, la eólica, etc. Windows se parece a la economía del petróleo, con todo tipo de actores alrededor, como políticos codiciosos, monopolistas avaros, países dependientes, enemigos fundamentalistas y demás especies. No me considero entre los enemigos fundamentalistas, porque pienso más en aplicar un poco de cabeza fría, es decir, menos corazón y más razón. De hecho, no me averguenza decir que en este momento estoy usando una máquina con Windows XP para el propósito de escribir esta nota.
    Mac OS X, como usted bien sabe, es herencia de Unix BSD con más de 30 años de maduración y que antes de asumir la cara y herramientas gráficas de interface, video y sistemas de archivo de Mac, su kernel ha sido reconocido como un sistema operativo muy seguro y estable, incluso por fans ortodoxos de Linux. Por lo tanto, Mac OS X, es lo que en mi analogía sugiere un tipo de energía limpia, económica, segura y sostenible.
    Sin embargo subsiste la preocupación: Qué sucedería si de tajo acabamos con la economía del petróleo y la cambiamos por energías limpias? Seguramente el trauma económico de escala mundial podría ser devastador. Igualmente: Qué sucedería si cambiamos todas las máquinas con Windows por Mac OS X o incluso Linux? Seguramente decaería de manera abrupta la productividad y se requeriría un re-entrenamiento. Por lo tanto estos cambios, tanto de renovados modelos energéticos, como de renovados sistemas operativos, deberán ser paulatinos pero positivos.
    No me gustaría que Microsoft forzara su ventaja con nuevas estrategias monopólicas que busquen detener el desarrollo creativo del software, o que acuda a estrategias falsas en las bolsas de valores para “sostenerse”, sino será otro ENRON. Ojalá participe más de los mercados creativos sin buscar apropiarse de ellos y detener su progreso. Y que reconozca que su otoño puede estar llegando y que debe dejar un legado positivo en las mentes jóvenes y en el espíritu de síntesis de los nuevos inventores.


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