The Trial started yesterday. And not that other unimportant trial based loosely on the bestselling bodice-buster, The President and the Stained Dress Tramp. After all the recriminations, motions to dismiss, special hearings, and attempts to debunk, Microsoft is in the dock to face charges that it used unsavoury tactics to promote its browser, Internet Explorer.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) is slavering at the bit, desperate to pin something on the company which has largely led it a merry chase for years. Part of what Microsoft will attempt to do will be to prove that it's an innovator, not a software giant with enough marketing muscle to crack any new market.
Maybe Microsoft is an innovator when it comes to IE, but if the past history of the company is any indication, then Microsoft is to technology innovation what Jean Claude Van Damme is to acting. Check out the analysis on page 18 and see for yourself. Microsoft is not an innovator, but a very powerful imitator. When it comes to ideas, Microsoft leaves that to others. When it comes to marketing, Microsoft leaves everyone else behind.
Windows is not the best desktop operating system that ever was, but it is the best marketed. Apple's possessiveness over the Mac OS, combined with a chronic inability to market its innovative technologies, left the desktop market wide open for a successor. Unix is a better OS than NT - better scaleability, security and so on. However, because it missed the PC's transformation from toy to serious business technology, NT has eaten up the gap. As for Netscape, well, it had the technology but not the hype budget or industry alliances. Again, Microsoft was late into the arena and again the gap was rapidly closed.
Better hype won the day again, as well as other slightly monopolistic actions, according to the DoJ. Whatever the outcome, be sure of one thing, Microsoft didn't get to where it is by being innovative or nice. Its success is proof that the best technologies rarely win, just the best marketing.
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