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

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.


In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …

The Nature of Nurture?

Recently, I found myself in a fascinating four-way Twitter exchange, with Professor Adam Rutherford and two other science-minded friends The subject, frequently regarded as a delicate one, genetics and whether there could exist an unknown but contributory genetic factor(s) or influences in determining what we broadly understand or misunderstand as human intelligence.

I won’t discuss this subject in any great detail here, being completely unqualified to do so, but I’ll point you at the document we were discussing, and Rutherford’s excellent new book, ‘A Brief History of Everyone.”

What had sparked my own interest was the story of my own grandfather, Edmond Greville; unless you are an expert on the history of French cinema, you are unlikely to have ever hear of him but he still enjoys an almost cult-like following for his work, half a century after his death.

I've been enjoying the series "Genius" on National Geographic about the life of Albert Einstein. The four of us ha…
The Mandate of Heaven

eGov Monitor Version

“Parliament”, said my distinguished friend “has always leaked like a sieve”.

I’m researching the thorny issue of ‘Confidence in Public Sector Computing’ and we were discussing the dangers presented by the Internet. In his opinion, information security is an oxymoron, which has no place being discussed in a Parliament built upon the uninterrupted flow of information of every kind, from the politically sensitive to the most salacious and mundane.

With the threat of war hanging over us, I asked if MPs should be more aware of the risks that surround this new communications medium? More importantly, shouldn’t the same policies and precautions that any business might use to protect itself and its staff, be available to MPs?

What concerns me is that my well-respected friend mostly considers security in terms of guns, gates and guards. He now uses the Internet almost as much as he uses the telephone and the Fax machine and yet the growing collective t…