Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Ongoing Frustration over Microsoft

I have an ongoing battle regarding technology intellectual property versus the ability to buy that intellectual property. In the technology world, many have grown to dislike Microsoft’s brand. That is, in the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) or the Mac World, it’s understood that the big boy from Redmond, WA is not as cutting edge as it tries to present itself. Rather, it’s a technology player with deep pockets. Or as another analogy; Microsoft (MS) is the starting, weaker first baseman for a baseball team only because his father bought the uniforms and the equipment for the team. It is unfortunate that corporate America relies on “branding” rather than knowledge. It is my opinion that MS's brand almost never has developed innovative technology.
Take for instance, the contents of MS Office. MS Word was not the first of it’s kind for word processing. The concept was brought forth by the original graphical user interface (GUI) word processor called “Bravo”, developed by the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).  MS Excel was known as a clone to the original VisiCalc. As for the rest of the Office Suite,  the list of buyouts goes on and on. Power Point was developed by Forethought, acquired by MS in 1987. FrontPage was developed by Vermeer Technologies, acquired in 1994 by MS. And the Visio Corporation, creator of Visio, was acquired in 2001. MS Project was developed by a company contracted by MS in 1984, and later purchased all the rights to Project in 1985.
You may ask yourself, “What about DOS? What about Windows?” Historically, MS DOS (Disk Operating System) was created for the IBM PC in 1982. However, MS did not have an operating system to sell, so they bought the rights to 86-DOS, aka, Q-DOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System) from Seattle Computer Products for $75,000. Small price to pay, for an operating system that now makes MS worth billions. When the computer world was getting tired of texted based operating systems, MS came out with Windows, the graphical user interface (GUI) operating system – or did they?
The first GUI operating system was created by the Xerox PARC. When Xerox executives in New York refused to commercialize their GUI operating system, and the concept of the mouse, Apple offered Xerox stock. In turn, Apple asked to allow their engineers to visit PARC to understand how their GUI works in order to create their own. At that time, MS was developing software for Apple and was accused of violating its copyright by appropriating the use of the "look and feel" of the Macintosh GUI.
From buyouts to settlements, MS has used their deep pockets to, in my opinion, “get their way”. The ever so popular MS Internet Explorer was originally coded by Spyglass, Inc. in 1994 and was know as Mosaic. MS licensed the code for a quarterly fee, and sold their Internet Explorer until they bundled it with Windows, making no revenue off the browser and still paying the fee. When Spyglass attempted to audit MS, big Redmond settled for $8 Million USD. In another case, MS license from Sun Microsystems the Java programming language. MS created J++ and the MSJVM (Microsoft Java Virtual Machine), the equivalent to Sun’s Java and JVM.  The MSJVM was to be in compliance with Sun, in order for Java and/or J++ to work on the MSJVM. In 2001 MS settled with Sun putting an end to J++ and the MSJVM. The concept of the MSJVM is similar to the CLR (Common Language Runtime) on .Net, and J++ was revived as J# on the .Net platform. J# was designed in attempt to migrate J++ programmers and Java programmers to the .Net platform. Eventually MS recycled J# into C#, MS’s primary language for the .Net platform.
To this day, I use MS products like Windows, Visual Studio and Outlook. I don’t negate the fact that their products, at times, are okay but expensive, I simply frustrate at the idea that MS comes off as the best brand in computing. MS is not an innovator,  nor an early adopter. MS is capitalism at it’s best, not a cutting edge technology force as many believe it is. Software developers around the globe develop new, innovative technology, and might possibly be the next victim to MS money web. I recommend to look for options, not brands. If you think the brand is more important than the technology, consider the list of MS products that they didn’t create, only stamps their name and logo on the box. If their is Free and Open Source Software to rely on, I choose it. Often times is it developed by early adopters and set the new trends on technology before corporate copycats get “influenced” to do the same.
I compiled a list of MS products I use or have used, their originator and alternate Free and Open Source Software I highly recommend.
MS Product Originator Alternative
Power Point Forethought OpenOffice
Word “Bravo” OpenOffice
Excel “VisiCalc” OpenOffice
Fox Pro Fox Software MySQL
Internet Explorer SpyGlass FireFox or Chrome
Outlook Microsoft Thunderbird
Windows Xerox PARC Linux

No comments:

Post a Comment