"Microsoft looks at new ideas, they don't evaluate whether the idea will move the industry forward, they ask, 'how will it help us sell more copies of Windows?'"
- Bill Gates
in The Seattle Weekly, April 30, 1998
"The best way to prepare [to be a programmer] is to write programs, and to study great programs that other people have written. In my case, I went to the garbage cans at the Computer Science Center and fished out listings of their operating system."
- Bill Gates
(Lammers, Susan. Programmers at Work
sells licenses to a variety of proprietary desktop and server software. From their very beginning in 1975 they have taken other people's ideas and repackaged them as their own, either by cloning or purchasing. Of all we see and hear of Microsoft, what we find least is true innovation. The slow evolution of most Microsoft software can easily be traced back to their origins in the 1960's and 70's. What we don't see is anything radical or revolutionary. The influence of Microsoft on society, and more generally the increase in commercialization, is responsible for the lack of any genuine innovation in many years. While competition in computer hardware drives devices faster, smaller, and cheaper the lack of comparable competition in software makes programs ever slower, bloated, and expensive
A quick look at Microsoft's software exemplifies their lack of innovation:
- MS-DOS was based on QDOS and CP/M
- Microsoft Windows was originally designed to look like the Mac OS
- Microsoft Excel imitates Lotus 1-2-3
- PowerPoint's original developer company was purchased by Microsoft
- Microsoft Internet Explorer is "Based on NCSA Mosaic(TM)... developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications" (from the About window)
- Microsoft Visual Studio's design is based on Borland's Turbo C/C++ and their other IDEs, mostly from the late 1980's and 1990's
- .NET is based on Sun Microsystem's Java™
But much of the software Microsoft provides increases productivity and replaces many manual tasks. Their software is widely used and deserves further analysis.
Microsoft Windows versus Apple OS X
- Mac OS X Tiger (10.4) vs. Windows XP (SP2) - Site entirely dedicated to a detailed comparison of Microsoft Windows to Apple OS X Tiger
- Lotus Notes/Domino 7.0 vs. Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003 Enterprise Edition