Microsoft ... oh how you've changed!

IT professionals recognize technology and development improvements, but say their perception of the software giant remained mostly the same since Microsoft lost its U.S. DoJ antitrust case 10 years ago.

Microsoft paid the fine, made some internal development and product changes, ultimately accepting the loss after a years-long antitrust trial against the U.S. Department of Justice.

But what did the trial do to the company's image? Did customers notice a big change or experience a kinder, gentler Microsoft? For some, the aftermath of the trial didn't reveal a remorseful, contrite Microsoft, but rather a smarter, savvier company with a renewed approach to innovation -- and a lot of experience to avoid future litigation.10 years after Microsoft vs. DoJ"My perception of Microsoft really didn’t change when the suit came down. There were always other browser options out there, but in the current litigation-happy climate, it wasn’t surprising that Microsoft became a target. From the days of Windows 3.1, I used Netscape Navigator and never thought twice about it," says Greg Topf, director of IT at NewBay Media in New York City. Now 10 years later, Topf says not only did his choice of browser not change, but Microsoft didn't change, despite losing the ruling. “The potential was there to shatter Microsoft. I envisioned a whole new world as seen through my IT goggles,” Topf says. “I knew Microsoft was always the 800-pound gorilla. I really figured major changes would be coming, the implications from the ruling really held the potential to cause Microsoft to totally re-architect itself. Honestly, the whole change was a lot smaller than I envisioned.”Others say that the known bias against Microsoft existed then and now, but that the company has improved upon its technologies, and perhaps in turn its image with IT professionals."I began my career working at Lotus, working on 1-2-3 and then Lotus Notes. At that period of time there was no such thing as too many reasons to dislike Microsoft. However, I clearly respected their ability to innovate and leverage their operating system dominance into a powerful suite of office applications that, quite honestly, were simply better than anything else we had been able to deliver to market," John Moore, CTO, CIO and senior vice president at consultancy Swimfish in Danvers, Mass. "In regard to the browser market Netscape clearly had the better browser options until IE 4.0 came out, so there was also frustration, from a technology perspective, in seeing the inferior product achieve dominance."Moore goes on to say that the company, while continuing to be a revenue powerhouse, did improve on its development process, which helps deliver more secure products."Microsoft has done a good job of addressing the needs of most IT professionals in terms of administrative needs, addressing security needs, and of delivering an operating system upon which you can easily build robust applications," Moore says. "Microsoft has excelled, in my opinion, at demonstrating how to build a scalable development process that yields secure products.  While no company is perfect in this area, they are doing excellent work and should be applauded for these efforts."Others agree, saying that the improved technology and development practices make any concern over market monopolies secondary."I can say that my perception of Microsoft has not significantly changed. Microsoft is a business entity attempting to generate the greatest profit possible for shareholders," says Michael Nix, ITS director at University of Kansas Hospital. "I believe Microsoft has improved the quality of its products, as well as security which has a greater impact on technical professionals than cost or concerns about a monopoly. Microsoft has learned how to enlist an ecosystem of software developers and products in a more cohesive manner that reduces the usability of non-Microsoft operating systems, rather than attempting to do so itself."What do you think? How has your perception of Microsoft changed since the company was found guilty of monopolizing markets and engaging in anticompetitive activities? Leave your comment here or let me know at by Denise DubieDo you Tweet? Follow Denise Dubie on Twitter here.

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