Are we nearing the tipping point for Microsoft?

Glyn Moody thinks we may be close to the point where many customers stop using Microsoft’s products altogether:

As someone who has been following Microsoft for over 25 years, I remain staggered by the completeness of the Vista fiasco. Microsoft’s constant backtracking on the phasing out of Windows XP is perhaps the most evident proof of the fact that people do not want to be forced to “upgrade” to something that has been memorably described as DRM masquerading as an operating system. But this story suggests an even greater aversion:

Studies carried out by both Gartner and IDC have found that because older software is often incompatible with Vista, many consumers are opting for used computers with XP installed as a default, rather than buying an expensive new PC with Vista and downgrading.

What’s really important about this is not so much that Vista is manifestly such a dog, but that the myth of upgrade inevitability has been destroyed. Companies have realised that they do have a choice – that they can simply say “no”. From there, it’s but a small step to realising that they can also walk away from Windows completely, provided the alternatives offer sufficient data compatibility to make that move realistic.

That may not have been the case before, but the similar poor uptake of Microsoft’s OOXML, taken together with the generally good compatibility of OpenOffice.org with the original Microsoft Office file formats, implies that we may well be near the tipping point for migrations to free software on the desktop.

That doesn’t mean everyone is going to rip out Windows and replace it with GNU/Linux, simply that they will stop upgrading Microsoft Office too, and start using OpenOffice.org on new systems instead. More people will come into contact with OpenOffice.org, and start using it at home – not least because they are actually *allowed* to take copies from office systems. Throw in Firefox usage that is starting to creep up to significant levels, even in the UK, and you have the recipe for a subsequent migration to GNU/Linux systems running these same apps that is almost painless.

I think this analysis is right. People are a lot more pissed off withn Microsoft than they used to be. But the big difference is that whereas 5 or 10 years ago the perception was you just had to put up with it, now the alternatives — Macintosh as well as GNU/Linux — are seen as a lot more credible.

This entry was posted in computers, digital rights, Linux, Microsoft, open source. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Are we nearing the tipping point for Microsoft?

  1. Arthur Murgatroyd says:

    The performace of PCs has now reached a level where all office type tasks can be comfortably be performed on a mid-range PC.

    There is no need to upgrade a PC to the latest quad core Intel CPU with 4 GByte of memory just to edit a Microsoft proprietary Word Document.

    So why should one insist on upgrading the hardware just to run the latest bloated DRM controlled operating system which limits your ability to access media for which you have paid?

  2. cabalamat says:

    why should one insist on upgrading the hardware just to run the latest bloated DRM controlled operating system which limits your ability to access media for which you have paid

    Indeed. Not only does Vista not have any benefits (that i can tell), but it actively prevents its users from doing stuff.

  3. George Carty says:

    Won’t a lot of people still want to use Windows so that they can play games as well as do work? I don’t think the open-source model would work for high-quality games software.

    Or are you of the opinion “If you want games, buy a console”?

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