Microsoft isn't going away anytime soon. The software giant's presence is deeply anchored in homes and businesses globally. Microsoft is guaranteed a place in the annals of technology history.
But, due to a recent spate of mishaps, it sure looks like that when it comes to the desktop and end-user side of things, Microsoft's days may be numbered.
What happened? Microsoft has introduced some excellent products, especially its server and enterprise offerings. Server 2008 is Microsoft's most outstanding server product to date and Exchange remains the most popular corporate e-mail platform, with each subsequent version being better and more secure than the last. Hyper-V is a winner, as is SBS 2008.
Desktop products? They are not faring as well.
Though Microsoft's desktop and consumer products have always had their critics, without question Vista was truly a public relations black-eye. It is incomprehensible how a company in the business for so long would release a desktop OS that had so many driver issues and was so bloated. Sure, things are getting better now with Vista SP1, but who can blame VARs, solutions providers and IT decision makers for still not trusting Vista enough to deploy it in their enterprises?
Then, there is this push of Windows Live. Since revamping Hotmail for this Live platform, there are numerous times when Windows Live Mail Hotmail simply hasn't loaded for me. Installing Live applications like Writer, Photo and Messenger takes a long time. Performance also seems a bit sluggish when using these applications, especially Writer. It's touted as a special tool for blogging, but is it really necessary to use to submit to a blog?
Finally, there is the Internet Explorer security mess. It's not just limited to IE 8, but it affects versions all the way back to IE 5. Microsoft's response on Tech Net was to advise users to temporarily switch to another browser. Then, a hastily-posted update was issued Wednesday. If anyone did switch to another browser, will they have reached a suitable comfort level at this time to switch back to IE? Possibly not.
Fierce competition in the desktop and end-user application space is looming large over Microsoft. Google continues to develop knockout, Web-based apps like Desktop, Video and Docs. OpenOffice is going mainstream -- the new Ubuntu distro makes Linux easier than ever for the layman.
Mozilla and Sun Microsystems have developed serious alternatives in the browser and productivity suite arenas with Firefox and OpenOffice.org.
Microsoft has long had a stranglehold on the browser and productivity suite markets. That hold may start to slip. In the Test Center, we are seeing the number of SMB and consumer applications and devices that are being developed with Linux compatability at an all-time high.
Could this latest security issue and the fact that it had not been addressed for the last several years by Microsoft, arguably the Earth's most wildly successful software company, be that proverbial straw that draws the masses to alternative personal computing offerings?