Is Microsoft still playing games and accelerating toward irrelevance?

My level of trust in Microsoft has always been incredibly low. From the crushing of Netscape to the “hidden” API’s to the games they’ve played to make any competitor’s software run poorly and ending with the lack of support for Web standards, I’ve never been at all interested in anything they do.

With Ray Ozzie coming on board and seeming moves to embrace an increasingly fragmented and disparate developer ecosystem — and an accelerating amount of choice with Web applications (and huge competition from Google) — I thought they’d learned their lesson. Maybe they have….maybe they haven’t. I don’t spend much brain energy thinking about them but I continue to simply have poor experiences with virtually every use of a Microsoft product or service.

As I’m scanning my RSS feeds (Note: in Google Reader), I just saw this post on Engadget about an apparent stumble on the Today show where Meredith Viera was unable to figure out how to take a call from Matt Lauer on the iPhone. Engadget mentioned, “We couldn’t get the video to play on a Mac, but we’ll keep an eye out for a YouTube version, let us know if you see anything.” I thought, “Nah….can’t be” and went there to try for myself on my MacBook Pro.

As you can see from the graphic, to view the video you need to “install free software” including “Firefox 1.5 (I’m on 2.0.0.4) and to “Download Macromedia Flash Player” (I’m using Flash Player 9).  Why don’t they just say, “Hello Loser. Why don’t you join the dwindling majority of the rest of the planet who are still using Internet Explorer 6 and our operating system?

Let’s suppose that the iPhone is, in fact, wildly successful and the best user experiences are with Web hosted sites and applications that work on this phone. Let’s further suppose that Linux iPhone clones proliferate (several already exist in some form like these)? Will Microsoft support them? Don’t count on it.

There are so many areas that Microsoft is increasingly irrelevant…like video. I understand that they’re beside themselves or the ubiquity of the Flash platform and that virtually every video (and video streaming) site uses Flash technology. According to this article, YouTube’s market share is greater than the next 64 video sharing sites combined and Microsoft isn’t a factor anywhere within this space. So, should Microsoft create and deliver an offense that focuses on the best, most ubiquitously delivered video platform in the history of mankind or play defense by throwing up obstacles and barriers? IMHO, the former is today’s recipe for success and the latter an accelerant toward irrelevance.

NOTE: I just re-read the error screen and tried it in Safari 3 beta and it worked. The kicker? I don’t use Safari since WYSIWYG editor toolbars (like I use in Typepad to do a post) didn’t work in Safari though do somewhat in Safari 3 beta.

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3 Comments

  1. PXLated on June 29, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    Flash Video…Did you se though that Google is transcoding the YouTube stuff to H264 for the iPhone and AppleTV. Of course H264 is an open standard where Flash isn’t so that’s good.



  2. Colin Henderson on June 30, 2007 at 12:33 am

    Steve … I have been using Microsoft DOS, Windows .. since PC’s were around. I am old (50+ :-). Two months ago, I looked at my colleagues on Vista, and a revelation hit me. Move to Linux. I have been running Xubuntu on my Thinkpad for 2 months now, and aside from not being able to run itunes, I have not missed a beat. Swiftfox and OpenOffice meet all my needs and more. Its fast, stable, and never crashes – never. Even if the odd idiosyncrasy appears, I will never go back to Windows. And that is after using MS since 1986 – 21 years… hmmmm.. irrelevant – absolutely.



  3. Ed on June 30, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    I read an article earlier today which really validates this, it was a story about how Microsoft is going to make downgrading from vista to xp easier (# http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=543).

    Can you imagine Apple implementing a system to downgrade from 10.4 to 10.3? or even Ubuntu from feisty to edgy?

    Where are Microsoft headed after Vista? another 5-year development process for another windows which people don’t want?

    Do we care…?



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