Ronnie05's Blog

Microsoft:Difficult moving ahead of IE 6 and XP

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on August 19, 2009

Microsoft has the likes of Linux, Apple, Google, Mozilla as competition on the OS and browser fronts. However, if July figures of browser market shares from net applications are to be believed, Windows XP and IE6 are the biggest threats to Microsoft! In them, Microsoft deals with an Operating System and Browser that refuse to die (much to Microsoft’s discomfort)!microsoft_logoMS is all the way up-to IE8 and IE8 is splashing around as the safest amongst browsers (Read here). However it is IE 6 launched in 2001, that remains the leader in browser markets. MS is not amused by the mass of people who refuse to give up IE6.

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There are a number of reasons Microsoft isn’t happy with the IE 6 holdouts. First is that they might be easily swayed to Firefox.

  • IE 6, after all, is so ancient that it doesn’t even use tabs. It’s clearly inferior to any modern browser. Put it next to Firefox, and anyone would want to switch. IE 8, by way of comparison, stacks up well to the most recent versions of Firefox.
  • In addition, Microsoft has built features into the latest version of IE 8, such as Web slices, that are translatable into increased traffic to Microsoft or Microsoft partners, which in turn translates into cash. The more people that stay with IE 6, the less revenue for Microsoft.
  • Beyond that, developers have gotten so sick of having to maintain their sites for IE 6, that they may eventually simply stop supporting it. That could clearly be disastrous for Microsoft. In fact, developers are so fed up with IE 6 that a group of developers have formed a group called ie6nomore as a way to try and get people to leave the ancient browser behind.
  • As for Windows XP, that presents an even more serious problem. Every consumer and every enterprise that doesn’t upgrade from XP represents money being taken out of Microsoft’s pocket. The problem goes beyond people who don’t upgrade their existing PC. There are plenty of XP users who won’t buy new PCs because they don’t want to give up XP. So it’s not just upgrades that Microsoft is losing out on, but new sales as well.

 A little scratching behind the surface throws up interesting insights on how MS is unable to chain the twin monsters it had fostered so long. Microsoft caused this turmoil and now they have to deal with it.

Microsoft Vista and Windows 7 are poor excuses for wasting a total of nine years in development. The results are a dozen versions of the same OS that “eats resources like dinosaur eats leafs, has a performance of a Yugo, but generate costs that rival a custom made Maserati”. Even the innovations haven’t been exciting really: A UAC that covers up the still present security holes and Aero that doesn’t work on most systems.

IE6 has been around for a long time, because Microsoft wanted it so. XP will be around for a long time, because Microsoft didn’t produce anything after XP that is worthwhile to use. Microsoft is about to make itself irrelevant out of lack of user understanding and lack of innovation. 9 years of inaction after XP and IE6, relentless versions of the same old XP and IE and a failure with Windows Vista has made customers extremely skeptical about incremental innovation at Microsoft, so much so that there is a reluctance to trust Microsoft’s promises with the Windows 7! It is reasonable to expect that with thousands of developers, millions of dollars spent, and nine years of development time Windows Vista would perform drastically better than XP on the same hardware. That has clearly not been the case with Windows Vista! Users are unwilling to pay for the same performance that he is currently getting with XP. The argument being that after so many years after XP came out, Microsoft couldn’t write an OS that is better than it, but they have not been able to. This could be a hurdle with acceptance of Windows 7 as well. Microsoft needs to watch out!

We’ll have to wait until October and beyond to see whether Windows 7 can solve one of Microsoft’s biggest problems — its aging operating system and browser and jump start its innovativeness in product philosophy!

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