I think there’s a fundamental difference between “very much alive” and just “not dead yet”. Where is the enthusiasm for Windows releases compared to days gone by? How many people actually *like* Microsoft products rather than settle for or merely tolerate them? Perhaps it would almost be apt to compare Microsoft to the Spanish Empire before the Spanish-American War or a more recent example, to Terri Schiavo… sure she was alive, breathing, her vital organs functioning while she lay in the hospital, with most of her brain dead, unable to think or even feel in any meaningful way.
So really, when did she ‘die’; in 2005 or 1990?
As far as your “list of 10 things which people thought kill Microsoft and haven’t”, consider three that are still a threat to it (trying to pull the feeding tube to follow-through on the analogy)
* The Internet
A disruptive technology that Microsoft still hasn’t fully adapted to. The pathway of Windows malware too numerous to count. The pathway of cross-platform software too numerous to count, such as…
* The codebase formerly called Netscape
The king is dead, long live Firefox! European usage is rapidly approaching 50% in some countries. In Germany its a full third of internet users. Without an IE stranglehold on browsers, websites will be increasingly tested with multiple browsers and written to standards not dictated by Microsoft. Without a need for IE, what other MS software can be traded in? If you’re willing to switch out parts for non-MS software, especially software libre, then its not hard to consider swaping it all out and jumping ship, e.g. to…
A drop-in replacement for Windows on almost all computers. Some of the best distros (e.g. Ubuntu) are free and are arguably better than Windows. About the only thing MS can claim they run better are proprietary games… Though one wonders to what extent Windows competes against the Wii, PS3 and even the Xbox360 which are specifically designed for that purpose :)
The Dell announcement from not too long ago is just another indicator that MS is on the “not dead yet” side rather than “very much alive”. Personally I look forward to the day Microsoft dies; I will agree that “wishful thinking” will never kill MS though. What will are supporting non-MS products among my friends and family. Vista will never enter my house. I will never install Windows again nor pay the ‘Microsoft tax’ on new computers. If my wife doesn’t want to use Linux, I will buy her a Mac. When my daughter gets older, if she wants a game system, it won’t be an Xbox.
I’ll leave my condolences for the death of MS now so I won’t have to send them later.
Update March 28, 2008:
Bill Gates, once the richest man in the world, slipped to second late in 2007 and is now third.
And then there’s a study of the strength of Microsoft’s brand power:
Microsoft’s brand power has been in sharp decline over the past four years, an indication the company is losing credibility and mindshare with U.S. business users, according to a recent study by market research firm CoreBrand. […] Microsoft dropped from number 12 in the ranking of the most powerful U.S. company brands in 2004 to number 59 [in 2007]. In 1996, the company ranked number 1 in brand power among 1,200 top companies in about 50 industries […] what’s significant in Microsoft’s case is that the decline has been consistent over a number of years, and has plunged dramatically in a brief time. “When you see something decline with increasing velocity, it’s a concern,” he said. Gregory could only speculate as to why Microsoft’s reputation has been declining, since his firm does not ask people that specific question. He said the “underwhelming” response to Windows Vista might be one reason
Update May 29, 2008: From an article titled “Microsoft Chiefs Talk Past, Look To Future”
It wasn’t exactly a formal hand-off, but Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer shared a stage Tuesday night in what could be regarded as a symbolic transition of power as Gates gets ready to retire from his full-time job at the software giant. […] Earlier in the evening, I had an opportunity to talk with Gates about his fondest memories at Microsoft. […] When I asked about the high points, he said “Windows 95 was a nice milestone.” […] but didn’t mention Vista.
Its almost like a high school football star who didn’t do much after graduation except coast along on memories of winning the ‘big game’…
Update June 23, 2008: I just noticed that MSFTextrememakeover made his final post. And what a doozie! From the conclusion:
As a company, MSFT will obviously continue on for some time. But I will be surprised if 3-5 years from now (maximum), growth in the cash cows hasn’t come to a screeching halt and the company hasn’t been forced to layoff at least 10% of its employees.
The rest of it is a catalogue of MS failures; something of an early obit… A good read and a reminder to dump the stock!