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Why would anybody think that there aren't limits to what one company can dominate?

This absurd notion that Microsoft could have ever possibly retained "control" of the future of computing (apparently forever would be the requirement) is non-sense.




You have to understand that some of us, who were around and writing code through the 90s, are still a little PTSD about Microsoft. Back then, when Microsoft did control computing, it was easy to wonder if maybe they would control it forever.

It was a shitty period. There was a sense of futility to building software. You could build small software, but as soon as you reached a certain scale, particularly if you were a platform company, Microsoft would decide that they'd like to take your revenue, so they'd box your software out of their operating system with incompatibilities, launch their own competitor, and eat your lunch.

The only sane strategy at the time was to try to anticipate what areas of computing Microsoft would likely never enter. But even that is Russian Roulette.

So, in 2013, yes. It's "obvious" now that Microsoft couldn't have possibly retained the control they had. But many of us have deep recesses in our brain that are still shocked that we got here.

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"It was a shitty period. There was a sense of futility to building software. You could build small software, but as soon as you reached a certain scale, particularly if you were a platform company, Microsoft would decide that they'd like to take your revenue, so they'd box your software out of their operating system with incompatibilities, launch their own competitor, and eat your lunch."

Sounds like Apple and the 00's.

http://www.maclife.com/article/feature/complete_itunes_histo...

The thing is, since Apple releases so many new features and software with updates while Microsoft leaves unfinished, crappy software for a decade, you can find dozens of stories like this about Apple.

So many of their default features were popular third party programs that got rebuilt by Apple in-house.

Who will be the MSFT of the '10s, I wonder.

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The difference is that you can ignore Apple completely and still build a massive, massive software company. Just build a web app, or an Android app.

When Windows was the only game in town, that was not true.

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Except that Apple controls around 6% of the desktop PCs and 20% of the mobile PCs. MS controlled 99% of the PCs at the time, and I'm rounding it down.

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At one time, IBM controlled around 70% of the whole IT business, probably more. Mainframes, minis, comms, switchboards, typewriters. IBM even ran its own bank (IBM Credit Corp).

Microsoft happened to steal a very small part of IBM's monopoly, which got bigger over time, but IBM's revenues are still bigger than Microsoft's even 32 years later. (And IBM has been spinning off or selling whole businesses along the way, eg the PC business to Lenovo; spinning off Lexmark).

I was talking to one US corporate IT manager who said IBM was still a third of his budget cf 3% for Microsoft.

Big picture: Microsoft's monopoly has always been much smaller and less powerful than the IBM monopoly used to be. However, in time, all tech monopolies tend to get largely undone by new technologies.

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> Who will be the MSFT of the '10s, I wonder.

I thought Google had already established themselves there by pulling all the free APIs that people had built businesses on top of.

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What software exactly have been boxed out of their operating system with incompatibilities?

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Well, I guess I meant to include both Windows and Office in that statement. Samba, WordPerfect, and Netscape are good examples.

Although in the case of Netscape, they just coerced all of the OEMs not to include it.

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However, many like WordPerfect were just doing dumb business decisions that led them out of business.

http://www.wordplace.com/ap/

Microsoft did not have to do much with this type of competition.

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Netscape also put itself out of business by arrogance and making dumb decisions, plus some very poor programming.

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Samba hasn't been boxed out to be replaced by Microsoft own software. Do you have any kind of proof for your claim about WordPerfect and Netscape?

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Excellent post that captures my feelings precisely. I worked for a MS "partner" whose product integrated with BizTalk (I know, right?) A big part of our strategy was trying to keep MS from locking us out once we became successful. Eventually we got bought out and the product was killed.

Around 2000, Linux was on the scene and like a lot of people I got the hell out of the MS ecosystem and never looked back.

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Why was it killed? What was the Microsoft's replacement for it?

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All they had to do was get mobile right. To do that, all they needed was one manager who kept an eye on the state of capacitive touchscreen development and moved to lock it down before his/her counterpart at Apple did the same thing.

The iPhone could have been theirs all along, with all that that implies. But first they ignored the underlying technology, then Ballmer laughed at it (on national TV no less), then they fought it, and then they lost.

Ballmer will not be missed.

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> all they needed was one manager who kept an eye on the state of capacitive touchscreen development and moved to lock it down before his/her counterpart

And they did move.

I was trying to create a startup based on PDAs at the early 00's (no luck, they were too expensive - the idea was flawed from day 1). There was Palm, and the two entrants: Windows and Linux. Palm had a once nice system that nobody wanted to program for anymore (accumulated too much cruft), Windows had a giant marketing campaign that made everybody hear about them (it was getting more known than Palm), but it was so bad that everybody soon learned to run away from it, and Linux got a steady monotonic growth from nowhere into almost-nowhere.

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I loved Palm. I wondered why more people didn't buy them. I once looked up a price of Halo 2 at 9 p.m. on a library Internet access( open at the time), and bought 500 copies of Halo 2 for $2.99 each. I sole all of them on ebay for at least 30 a piece. I knew nothing about vid games, but I knew they were priced to move.

I felt like I was the only one in the world who realized how great having Internet access was in my pants pocket. Now Everyone is connected.

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