I have been a Redmond subscriber for some time and although I have seen multiple invitations to contribute from you, Barney, only now do I feel the need to speak up.
Yes, I worked for Microsoft from 1995 to 2002. Yes, I left to do other things. Still...although not a 'fan' nor an 'enemy' of the company I must say this:
MICROSOFT has unified computing and the U.I. (forget Xerox for this discourse) into something the world embraces as 'the operating system of choice.'
I wish card readers at checkout lines had the uniformity the Windows OS exhibits. I'm constantly checking to see what the card reader needs for a response (type of card? Cash over? How much? Is the amount OK? Continue? The number of questions, the order they are in, etc. always changes).
Microsoft has brought a commonality to the PC user experience, constantly done their best to improve that experience and -- although the UI has evolved since 3.x days -- they have made it EASY to use a computer.
My Mom and Dad are in their 70s and are not intimidated by the UI. They would not want to recompile the kernel to add applications. I am a 20-cert professional who started with card punchers/readers, and my first PC was a 286 running IBM DOS 3.3 and Windows 3.0.
The evolution Microsoft as a company and the OS itself continues in spite of the departure of Gates. (Bravo on the philanthropic pursuits and influence on other billionaires to help others less fortunate. Thanks Bill!)
If it were not for MS unifying the industry with a platform used the world over that developers can continue to tie into via APIs that are common, the world would be a sadder place.
If partner dissatisfaction with Microsoft, the eating away at the role the partner plays with the "What have you sold for me lately mentality" and the self-serving changes in the partner program is an indicator as to where the market is going then yes, despite its ability to improve the bottom line, it is going to lose market share. Too many products, too fast and too many changes are taking their toll. Do I think Facebook is the solution? NO. I agree Microsoft is not the end all, cure all it once was, and time will tell if Microsoft can weather the next decade against the constant challenge of the bright young technical minds and challengers waiting on the horizon.
Let me see... Microsoft is a worldwide software business and Facebook is a Web site, right?
Is there any comparison at all? This is like a company that makes the headlights for a car is going to take over the automobile business. Huh? Without Microsoft there probably would be no Facebook.
And yes, the bottom line tells the success of the business!