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Saturday, November 5th, 2005, 4:45 am

Microsoft Gain Full Control of Platform?

Bill Gates
All your bases to belong to Gates

I recently wrote about Microsoft Singularity O/S and the implication it may have on the slightly shattered Longhorn/Vista. As a new initiative is launched off the ground, I immediately get unnerving reflexes. What is most disturbing is Microsoft’s history of pushing companies away from their platform in what can be described as the “embrace, extend and extinguish” tactic. Will Singularity make the transition in strategy, namely being more ‘kind’ to third-party software, or will it only re-enforce the ‘iron fist’ regime and render third-parties obsolete?

Microsoft’s history and current practices have led to friction with the European Commission. With anti-trust ignited in Korea lately, some speculate that it could lead to a quicker spread of Linux in far east Asia. Korea have requested the removal of some bundled, pre-installed software. Microsoft, in turn, threatened to take their toys and go back home.

More recently we heard that Microsoft will push towards their own implementation of anti-virus software for their own platform. By doing so, they are pushing aside companies and vendors that have taken care of that market so far, essentially making up for Microsoft’s mistakes and flaws. Ironically, Microsoft will have incentive for bug creation. After all, it will be them who can charge to have that fixed, by selling anti-virus software. In recent hours we have heard about Microsoft’s entry into VoIP — the means being a takeover of another small company.

Microsoft Office 12 is said to support PDF creation in the trunk, which has so far been possible only using Adobe’s professional and premium software. Thus, Microsoft merely take food from the mouths of Adobe developers, much like they did to Netscape. They seem determinded to intercept or steal the popular PDF format. Office which exports PDF’s is merely an unneeded bloat, as well as an imitation (see screenshot alongside more examples). For imitation and theft, Microsoft have recently lost some cases in court too. Office is no more functional than Open Office, which many still wrongly perceive as Office in a brown paperbag. Office itself evolved from existing applications that emerged in the 70′s and 80′s and it continues to be the primary money-making cow.

Any innovative software on the Windows platform is pushed outside by imitation, bundling, extension and introduction of mysterious proprietary formats. Adobe, a giant that has merged with Macromedia, are facing yet another threat from Microsoft — a Flash alternative.

Some would say that Microsoft also snub OpenGL in their next version of Windows, possibly to be dropped in favour of Microsoft´s DirectX. Some time ago I read that no support for Palm handhelds will be included in Vista either. As for the ‘Internet front’, there seems to be a push towards ASP and .Net, not to mention opaque sites that are made strictly MSIE-compatible.

What will Microsoft do about Google Desktop 2, which has just come out? Google appear to invade Microsoft’s territory and I can’t imagine that Microsoft are too happy about it. In fact, Google are their worst fear (confer Winner Takes All). The year to come will be an intersting one to observe. With Linux, Firefox and Google (among many more) spreading and reaching Average Joe’s desktop, we are yet to see changes that are difficult to ignore.

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