Those of you who know me well know that on one topic I have been completely consistent: for years I’ve considered Microsoft the ultimate market bully who simply assimilated (or copied) any technology or company it wanted to. To this day, the blood feud between IBM and Microsoft on the messaging and desktop application battle front continues. Why else would IBM revive the Lotus Symphony brand?
But today I discovered Windows Live Writer (in which I am composing this blog post), and I have to admit that it’s the most impressive application I’ve seen from Microsoft in ages. Even more, I have become a big fan of Vista and even have a warm spot for Office 2007 (even though the context sensitive help in Office is broken).
Microsoft seems to have entered a stage in its history which reminds me of IBM software in the 70s and 80s: exceptionally well-designed and documented software that has increasingly accepted (without “embracing and extending”) open standards. The one flaw both share is complexity.
Whether this happened as a result of its near-death brush with regulators (also an IBM parallel) or if it was inevitable isn’t important. Today, Microsoft is producing some seriously great stuff.
Who’s today’s new dominant bully? My vote goes to Google, which has all the attributes of Microsoft at its worst: a belief that everything in the world will go its way and an astonishing disregard for customers. (Just try getting Google support on the phone. It’s nearly impossible.)