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Did Microsoft live up to last year’s resolutions?

Jan 04, 20063 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Microsoft vs. Dave’s resolutions in 2005

A happy and prosperous New Year to you all. Now 2005 was certainly prosperous for Microsoft – but was it happy?

There were more delays in bringing products to market and further governmental and judicial entanglements (especially in Europe) that could all prove to be potentially worrisome to Redmond, but that’s a topic for another time.

Right now, with the New Year upon us, let’s consider New Year’s resolutions – those promises to do good, be better and finally commit to changing your life. I believe the folks at Microsoft should make resolutions, too. But they don’t, so I do it for them.

Today we’ll examine the resolutions I proposed for them a year ago and see if they were able to stick to them during 2005. They were:

1. Join wholeheartedly in standards bodies with the aim of developing protocols and specifications that create an even playing field for everyone.

2. Establish a licensing model, then stick with it for longer than a year.

3. Linux’s share of the server market is growing and its share of the desktop market will soon start to follow. It might be time to offer the well-known (and used) Microsoft services and applications for this platform.

The big news on the standards front was the announcement that Windows Vista – the successor to Windows XP which may ship by the end of 2006 – will incorporate the RSS format for syndication of XML data, such as blogs, news feeds and the like. It is a public standard, so we should be happy, right? But true to its heritage, Microsoft also announced it would “extend” the RSS standard. That’s not good news, of course, because an extended standard is no longer a standard!

The second resolution, the licensing model, was barely even considered. Redmond continues to tweak and twist licensing terms annually – sometimes more often – in an attempt to both tie customers tightly to the company’s offerings in perpetuity while maximizing revenue, and even while delivering less and less at more infrequent intervals. Bad Microsoft, bad!

When it comes to services and apps for Linux – either server-based or desktop – Microsoft continues to redefine “cross-platform” to fit its own marketing message. That is, to Gates & Co. “cross-platform” means it works on multiple versions of Windows. They even announced last month that Internet Explorer for the Macintosh was soon to be dropped.

I’ll be very generous and give Redmond a half point for adopting the RSS standard. That still leaves them at 0.5 out of 3 – not a very good record. Could it be that the resolutions I proposed were just too hard? I don’t think so. I’m tempted to offer the same trio again this year, but I don’t know that the result would be any different. So come back next time and I’ll see if I can devise three resolutions for Microsoft that are worthwhile as well as doable.