Never trust Microsoft again

Declan had a funny rant about the latest of Microsoft’s attempts to win our web development hearts back and flamed a Microsoft Stooge in the process. But why do they need to win our hearts? You don’t see Apple playing this game and Mac people are almost on par with Mormons when it comes to ranting about their shiny toys.

The major complain I have against Microsoft is that they are followers. They want to control the market place but don’t know where to take it. Open Source and the Standards groups have been leading the way with web technology since started up. Microsoft is still in beta with their IE7 that touts the ‘latest technologies’ (i.e. RSS, tabbed browsing, CSS1) that FireFox has had for a couple of years now, and even Safari, the product of a much smaller company, is already up to speed. Hell, even Opera is leaving IE behind in the browser game.

It begs the question: How can a company so far behind the eight-ball still be profitable? The answer is, as Declan noted, they have a monopoly and are much larger/richer than everyone else. Ever. Unfair trade practice the High Courts of America called it I believe. They don’t compete, they assassinate. IE gained its market share not though competition but though Defaultisum (i.e. it was the default browser on all the new Windows95 OEM machines). They won the browser war and then what did they do? They stopped working on the browser all together. Suffering thought the whole thing as a web developer, I’m glad it wasn’t all for nothing.

But this is the nature of the ‘free market’. When MS is put up against completion that isn’t susceptible to their economic bulk (i.e. Open Source), they come in 3rd place. Their laps in browser development has allowed for the birth of the best browser that web web has seen to date and is aggressively earning its market share, FireFox.

The Open Source movement is a direct response to Microsoft incompetence and lack of vision. Its born from the frustration that its third rate products has generated.

The answer to the initial question is Microsoft needs to win back our trust because of all the dodgy business practices they have used to stay in the game. We’re at the dawn of an new era where company’s that proved quality good and services, which as Apple and Google, are winning the hearts and minds of users by simply thinking about doing a good job and not about staying on top no matter what.

40 thoughts on “Never trust Microsoft again”

  1. “The major complain I have against Microsoft is that they are followers. They want to control the market place but don’t know where to take it.”

    I would agree, for the most part. The sad thing is that, when the company truly innovates — XMLHttpRequest for example — they do so in a closed, proprietary way which prevents other people from using the tech unless they pay for it.

    If MS doesn’t want them to use it, they’ll just charge too much. And nobody has the resources to spend on replicating their tech (except them) in open source, which is evidenced by how long it has taken for the Mozilla ActiveX implementation to become even close to usable.

  2. But who wants to fucking use ActiveX anyway? It’s yet another welcome failure from M$. The way I see it, ActiveX and Java were competing for stand-alone type aesthetics and functionality in the browser. Java won out because of it’s cross-platform and cross-browser capabilities, but soon after it started to weigh heavy on the shoulders of users and developers…literally. Enter DOM and then AJAX. But, without the push to Javascript that AJAX demands, the whole gammut of Javascript front-end widget libraries would be just a twinkle in someone’s eye. In the end the web development community has taken a barely useful language – Javascript – and given it a new lease of life probably beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. It was always possible to push Javascript this far, but no-one could be arsed! Thanks to the failures of ActiveX and the limitations of Java, the motivation came about for AJAX.

    Granted, in all this, as Dekkaz has already mentioned, M$ did contribute their XMLHttpRequest object to the mix. But this was probably just coincidence, luck, etc. There’s no clear foresight on the technology front from M$, only marketing manouevres.

  3. Btw, I also firmly believe that Mozilla *need* to drop ActiveX support altogether. It ruins their rep, will attract the worst the programming community has to offer and gives legitimacy to M$.

  4. Agreed about ActiveX, but it’s a great example of a technology which Microsoft has used in the past to push their browser to the exclusion of all others. It was almost single handedly responsible for the explosion of “This site requires Internet Explorer 5 or above” warnings.

    It does attract bad code like flies to fecund feces. I mean, who the fuck wants their browser to be able to execute arbitrary code on the user side? That’s putting far too much power in hands of the developer, and, whether through maliciousness or just incompetence on the part of coders, it’s the single biggest reason that IE has had such a bad security record.

    I was watching a Channel9 interview with big bad Billy Gates last week, and he said that making the browser (IE) secure has been the biggest challenge in creating a new version. Why? Seriously, why?!?

    Everyone else manages to produce browsers that are small downloads and are completely sandboxed. However, in typical form, MS wants to make the browser the platform — sorry, make their browser the platform — and so has more than likely made considerable security trade offs in IE7, no matter what their PR is saying.

  5. I concede that XMLHttpRequest was a good idea that originated from Microsoft, but another way of looking at it might be that it didn’t really start to seem like a good idea until other browsers saw it as useful and implemented it.

    XMLHttpRequest has been around for years. M$ developed it so that people could use their web based Outlook client to get their emails work emails when abroad. But that was it. It saw a little gem that stayed buried in the for years until the JavaScript community (a breed unto their own) picked up the ball and ran with it. Of course its not very useful without DOM scripting, on open standard, and which has allowed the AJAX thing to take off.

    So make that half a point then to M$.

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