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 Microsoft: Brilliant Strategists or Hostile Copycats?

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Dizzy
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PostSubject: Microsoft: Brilliant Strategists or Hostile Copycats?   Sat Jan 01, 2011 3:08 pm

So this is mostly sparked by a long conversation I had on the way back from a wrestling tournament with one of my coaches, who is a lawyer for a private law firm. At some point I was talking with someone else in the car about the iPad versus the new Samsung Galaxy Tab, and some other Apple product related things. He heard us and turned and said something that took my by surprise.

It was something like; "The only thing I can hand to Microsoft is that when they copy something, they copy it well."

When I asked why he said that it turned out he had several friends that either were in or defended companies that had dealings with Microsoft in the 90's and early 2000's. He asked me if I knew of a product that Microsoft had developed and built from the ground up, especially one that was very successful. Honestly, I couldn't think of any which was mostly due to the fact I don't know much about the background of most Microsoft products but either way, he said that there really aren't any. Microsoft Word was based off a popular Unix-based word processing program known as WordPerfect that was copied by Microsoft. Microsoft PowerPoint was built by a company Microsoft bought out. I'll back to this, but keep it in mind.

So we somehow got onto talking about the differences between Apple and Microsoft and the quality of their respective products. I don't generally have too much of a problem with making a Windows box looks much superior to a Mac but he took a different approach. He said if you were to put the same parts in both boxes, a Mac would run smoother and easier. This is due to several factors, but that's unrelated. Apple has always had the philosophy of total control over their products and develop and build their own products. That's always been a focal point for my statement against Macs, but then my coach said that really the only difference between the operating systems is that Apple kept control and Microsoft marketed in a very domineering fashion. Taking advantage of the fact that a SDK for a Mac's OS was expensive, along with the computer itself being more expensive Microsoft made their SDK cheaper than dirt thus drawing 3rd party developers like flies to a light, and of course the having their famous alliance with Intel. Brilliant marketing no? I mean, they quickly took that market by the horns and kept IBM from ever going anywhere deep into operating systems and effectively downsizing Apple's market. So the primary difference between Windows and OS X (or whatever version Apple had out at that point) was that Microsoft found a way to make its operating system more compatible with software and 3rd party hardware. The native Mac OS actually runs much smoother (especially from a remote standpoint) than Windows, but isn't compatible with a lot of key software and hardware. Again we see that Microsoft pretty much just marketed better and then proceeded to crowd everyone out.

So wait, what makes them a hostile copycat? Well we got to that. Once Microsoft had the market firmly in their control (even before, but lets focus on after.) they still had to deal with someone doing the exact same thing they did, only with a higher quality product. How do they do that? Well numerous ways, and most of them probably were eligible for an anti-trust lawsuit. Case in point; Microsoft beat WordPerfect by saying they were interested in purchasing the corporation and using their product on Windows. Microsoft went through the due process, looking around checking out the software, talking with developers, and then cut off negotiations. A couple of months later we have Microsoft Word out, and on Windows where 90% of the population has access to. Honestly, in the late 90's many companies tried to file anti-trust lawsuits, but were forced to drop them because of the enormous costs and time involved. Microsoft held a monopoly and roughly would push anyone they thought could be in the way. Developers that were working on software that could be dangerous to Microsoft would get new software much later than competing companies that Microsoft controlled or was affiliated with.


And with that, I ask you that simple question. Was Microsoft simply just being smart with their marketing and business models, like any good company. or are they hostile copycats?
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PostSubject: Re: Microsoft: Brilliant Strategists or Hostile Copycats?   Sun Jan 02, 2011 1:15 am

"All poetry is stolen"... This applies to everything, really: art, music, games, software, et al.

Essentially, every [program that you're using/game that you're playing/vehicle you've ever seen] is a retread of a retread of a retread, developed by someone else entirely. Have you ever noticed how the world goes crazy every time an especially "original" game is released? It's because it's so unusual. Every RPG is the same as every other RPG once you remove the superficial stuff. For that matter, every shooter, music game, and platformer are all retreads of their previous respective genres. Take away the interface and dialogue, and bam -- you're played this same damn game a thousand times before.

Next time you're out driving, pay attention to the vehicles you see; they're all practically the same thing.

Your lawyer guy sounds like a bit of an idiot to me, to be honest. He is aware that all Mac operating systems are based on Unix, yes? That is to say, Mac has had even less original ideas than Windows. Steve Jobs even had the audacity to use a freely available base system, and charge out the ass for it after making it prettier. At least Bill Gates and Steve Balmer built their own. To his point about Microsoft not having done anything original that had success: how about the Windows operating system, dick? Does he realize that Apple had plagiarized Wordperfect just one year after Microsoft, with the release of Appleworks?

And it's not like Microsoft hasn't experienced the exact same thing. OpenOffice is clearly a tease on Microsoft Office more than it is Wordperfect (which is an unspeakably bad word processor, for the record), and anyone who has used a user-friendly Linux could tell you about all the clones of Microsoft products that are legally and readily available for use in their particular operating system. Half of what I use in Ubuntu are just bastardized versions of Windows programs. And who the Hell cares? Activision bastardized the music game genre that Harmonix had perfected, after Konami came up with the idea. Every pop-rock song on the radio utilizes the loud/soft dynamic that Kurt Cobain and Nirvana popularized, but he admitted freely to having stolen it from the Pixies. And they got a lot of it from Husker Du, anyway.

Apple pines and pines for the attention of the average consumer by making their hardware sleek, their software smooth and effortless, and their image "hip", but Windows is more familiar, and that, ultimately, is the deal breaker. And it's Apple's own damn fault for being stupid. What Microsoft did was very, very clever -- brilliant, really. Rest assured, if Steve Jobs had had the idea before Bill Gates, he would have seized the opportunity to grab the majority market share. But he didn't, and Microsoft now wields that power.

As for the bit about Microsft having beaten down "the little guy" time and time again: I don't believe it. I really, truly do not. I'm sure that there were instances where they screwed over lesser software providers, and there's certainly evidence of plagiarism in a lot of their stuff, but not to that extent. And they have been sued, and forced to pay royalties, often for things that they really didn't deserve to be faulted for. The EU dicks them over constantly for stupid antitrust issues that any smaller corporation would never be subject to -- Apple included. Antitrust? How about the fact that you can't use iTunes without a working installation of Quicktime, a program that is not at all essential to the operation of iTunes itself? Why the Hell can't I put music on my iPod without having iTunes, anyway? Nearly every other MP3 player just acts as an external drive, and I see no reason for Apple products to be different in that respect (yes, I am aware that Zunes act like iPods).

Basically,

-- That guy is an idiot.
-- Microsoft sucks in a lot of ways, but they're damn good at what they do, and Apple is constantly trying to do the same things anyway.
-- Apple is far, far worse the MS is when it comes to antitrust issues, but no once makes a big deal about it because they're so much smaller.
-- Both Mac and Windows have pros and cons (as does Linux), and people need to get over themselves and stop bitching.
-- Having said that, Apple fanboys are by far and long the most irritating fanboys of anything, ever. They're pretentious, uptight assholes, and they don't know a damn thing.

Also of note: from what I understand, Microsoft is absolutely terrific to their employees. Like, it's supposed to be an amazing place to work. And Bill Gates has also donated over 38 billion dollars to charity. Billion with a B.

(Disclaimer: though I do have a working partition of Windows on my computer, I don't boot it up terribly often -- I prefer Ubuntu, and I strongly dislike using Windows. I also own an iPod, which I absolutely love, despite having to go through Hell to put new music on it.)

Also of note: http://main.makeuseoflimited.netdna-cdn.com/tech-fun/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/whynottobuyamac.png <-- This guy clearly hates Macs, but he makes excellent points. And I mean, wow.
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PostSubject: Re: Microsoft: Brilliant Strategists or Hostile Copycats?   Sun Jan 02, 2011 12:11 pm

I didn't read the giant posts, but I think they DO copy things very well. I think a lot of success is doing what someone else has already done, but better and at the right time. That's a strategy in itself.

I was never a big fan of MS, but I stopped hating on large corporations a few years ago. I don't agree with a lot of their tactics, but hating them isn't going to help me any. I can just try to use what I dislike about what they do and not do the same thing myself once I start building a company.
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PostSubject: Re: Microsoft: Brilliant Strategists or Hostile Copycats?   Today at 5:56 pm

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