Giving Microsoft Direction

Directions on Microsoft is a pretty cool outfit. In fact, analyst Paul de Groot mans the back-page column for Redmond Channel Partner magazine (get a free sub at www.rcpmag.com). This company does nothing but analyze Microsoft. As such, it makes sense to pay attention to its list of Microsoft’s top 10 challenges for 2006.

Interestingly, Directions didn’t take the easy road and just talk about head-on challenges like Google, OpenOffice, Linux PCs, Macs and Firefox. Instead, it counseled Redmond on perfecting managed solutions, doing online right, and being more reliable, secure and stable.

Big Mac To Go
Microsoft has long half-heartedly wanted the Mac to semi-succeed. That’s why Redmond invested $150 million in Apple in the wake of Apple’s suit for stealing the Mac GUI. As part of the deal, if feeble memory serves us correctly, Microsoft agreed to continue support of Office for the Mac.

Since then Microsoft has done a semi-reasonable job of offering support for its Mac browser. Internet Explorer for the Mac has all the browser basics, but any Mac-ophile worth his salt (like my two boys) uses Safari. It’s perhaps with that in mind that Microsoft announced it is killing off Mac IE by the end of this year.

Some may see this as a plot to force the market even more towards the PC, as IE is critical to many enterprise apps. I think the opposite is true. If the Mac running Safari and perhaps OpenOffice or another open source suite, works effectively, it’s one less reason for Corporate America (and Corporate Every-Other-Country) to pay a premium for Microsoft software. If Microsoft really wanted to protect its software franchise, it would build the best IE for the Mac its coders could possible write.

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Open Interfaces or Monopolistic Foot Dragging?
That pesky European Commissioner for Competition just won’t let Microsoft relax. It’s now threatening to fine Microsoft $2.4 million a day for not providing complete documentation of its programming interfaces to let competitors fully interoperate with Windows. Microsoft claims it has already given all the details any competitor would ever need.

Microsoft further argues that the type of info the commission is ultimately looking for could serve as the basis of Windows clones. Read Redmond’s objections here.

Boy, I tell you, the more things change the more they look like 1992. That’s the year that all heck broke loose with allegations that Microsoft developers had access to system calls that competitors weren’t privy to. That, my friends, turned out to be entirely true!

PC Sales Staying Strong
Research firm IDC predicts that PC shipments will grow roughly 10 percent next year, far less than the days of explosive growth but still nothing to sneeze at. I guess not everyone is waiting for Vista.

What really jingles my bells is the steady increase in value and decrease in price. Gimmie three or four hundred smackers and I’ll buy a PC that will do nearly anything I need -- except play Doom at super high frame rates. I mean it, gimmie three or four hundred smackers. I need a new PC.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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