Skip to main content
Pick-up a Penguin

Sony, it appears, is giving Microsoft cause for concern.

You may remember me telling you that the Linux OS is now available on the PlayStation 2.0. You can’t do much more than write programs with it today but the writing is on the wall – or screen - none the less. Sony has been ‘Penguined’ and there’s worse news to come. Sony has agreed to install Sun’s StarOffice on “many” of its computers and of course Sun is cheerfully writing Microsoft’s epitaph as a consequence.

It’s hard to say whether this is Sony’s revenge for the X-Box or whether the company simply feels that it can make its VAIO PCs more competitive if it leaves out the cost of Microsoft’s ‘commission’ on Office.

Although Microsoft would probably shrug this news off as being inconsequential, it’s hard to ignore the wider implications of a large PC manufacturer such as Sony breaking ranks and letting Microsoft know that its software is too expensive, in contrast with a single-user license for StarOffice.

Of course, many users will still prefer to have Office pre-installed, whatever the cost, a sit is, after all, the industry standard but standards come and go. Remember VisiCalc, Lotus 1-2-3, cc:Mail and even Netscape? Standards are invariably the product of commercial forces. Give enough copies of Internet Explorer away and it becomes the ‘Standard’ Internet browser. Give away enough copies of StarOffice and ……well Sun keeps hoping.

Unlike other computer manufacturers who are rather less intimidated by Microsoft than they were before the anti-trust case, Sony is well-enough diversified and has both the brand and financial muscle to open a crack in Microsoft’s armour.

In December 1997, in my then eBusiness Magazine, I wrote about “The high licensing costs of Office” and that “The industry has reached a fork in the road. In one direction the world has a Microsoft logo right through it and in the other, there’s the hope of more diversity”. Five years later, the logo is there, right enough but diversity hasn’t made much in the way of an appearance.

Every commodity has a financial breaking point. There comes a time when businesses spontaneously arrive at the same conclusion, that a product or a service has become more of a luxury than a necessity and simple economics forces a switch of supplier. A trickle becomes a stream, which rapidly becomes a torrent.

Will Microsoft, I wonder, learn from history or become a victim of history? I’d like a new Jaguar but I can’t afford one and in the middle of a recession in IT spending, businesses are increasingly in the Mondeo-mindset and don’t really care whether James Bond uses Office or not.

All that’s really needed, I suspect, is a single maverick player, like Sony and a gentle enough collective shove from the PC manufacturers to loosen Microsoft’s vice-like grip on the pre-installed universe. It may take another five years but if prices continue to rise, it may not take long.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…
A Christmas Tale

It’s pitch blackness in places along the sea wall this evening and I'm momentarily startled by a small dog with orange flashing yuletide antlers along the way. I’m the only person crazy enough to be running and I know the route well enough to negotiate it in the dark, part of my Christmas exercise regime and a good way of relieving stress.

Why stress you might ask. After all, it is Christmas Day.

True but I’ve just spent over two hours assembling the giant Playmobil ‘Pony Farm’ set when most other fathers should be asleep in front of the television.



I was warned that the Playmobil ‘Pirate Ship’ had driven some fathers to drink or suicide and now I understand why. If your eyesight isn’t perfect or if you’ve had a few drinks with your Christmas lunch then it’s a challenge best left until Boxing day but not an option if you happen to have a nine year old daughter who wants it ready to take horses by tea time.

Perhaps I should stick to technology but then, the instruc…

An Ockham of Gatwick

The 13th century theologian and philosopher, William of Ockham, who once lived in his small Surrey village, not so very far from what is today, the wide concrete expanse of Gatwick airport is a frequently referenced source of intellectual reason. His contribution to modern culture was Ockham’s Razor, which cautions us when problem solving, that “The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct;” sound advice which constantly proves to be true.

A week further-on since Britain’s second busiest airport was bought to a complete standstill by two or perhaps two hundred different drone sightings, it is perhaps time to revisit William of Ockham’s maxim, rather than be led astray by an increasingly bizarre narrative, one which has led Surrey police up several blind alleys with little or nothing in the way of measurable results.

 Exploring the possibilities with a little help in reasoning from our medieval friar, we appear to have a choice of two different account…