This essay was an entry pulled from Tera’s personal journal and first published on TeraTalks.
Some of the content, though a bit caustic, has become prophetic regarding Microsoft’s business tactics, including attacks on Linux and Apple’s iPod—Alexis Kayhill.
For years I’ve stated what should be obvious to all but is not. Microsoft truly is an evil company.
Do evil leaders beget an evil company? What happens to such a company over time?
Most people who know anything about computers know something about Microsoft.
Most people know that Microsoft publishes Windows, which shows up on about 90-percent of all personal computers on the planet.
Most of those people know something about Microsoft Office, which powers the word processing and spreadsheet needs of business.
Most of those people and many others know that Bill Gates is Microsoft’s founder, leader, and the world’s richest human.
A growing number of people now recognize that Microsoft is at the heart of their computing headaches. Many of those know why.
Microsoft is an evil company. Evil leadership begets a company’s culture and Microsoft’s products and business tactics represent that culture.
What most people don’t know is why the company became embroiled in serious trouble with the US government, many state governments, most of Europe, and much of the rest of the world.
Perhaps they assume that everyone loves to hit a rich target and no one is richer than Microsoft and founder Bill Gates, so they’re fair game.
What they don’t know is that Microsoft used illegal tactics to obtain their market share and great wealth, got caught by the authorities, and, for the most part, were able to buy themselves out of legal trouble.
Worse, most people don’t know that Microsoft continues to use their monopolistic practices to quash competition, flaunt government regulators, and intimidate innovation through threat of litigation.
I’ve said it before, “nothing improves without change.” If Microsoft isn’t changing their basic tactics, their disregard of moral sense and their disregard for customer needs, the world will change around them.
That’s what’s happening now. The world is changing and Microsoft is not.
In the Bible at Matthew 15:14, Jesus, in describing the elite religious authority of the time, said, “Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”
Slowly, steadily, businesses and individuals have recognized the blind guides of Microsoft, and the pit into which many are walking. They’ve chosen a different course.
The Mac platform has begun to grow far beyond annual industry market growth. The ability of new Macs to run Windows removed the last major security blanket for many computer users and businesses who seek an alternative to Microsoft’s hegemony.
Linux continues to take market share from Microsoft in their once highly profitable server market, rallying around Novell’s SuSE and Red Hat versions.
Microsoft is being squeezed from two sides; quality and innovation on one end, and dependable, low cost server solutions on the other.
How will Microsoft respond to their first business threat in nearly two decades (since IBM’s last ditch effort with OS/2)? Will they innovate and produce new and better and more competitive products? Will they lower prices?
No, Microsoft will squeal, shriek, howl, and grunt like a crazed starving animal, and blindly attack whatever is near.
Instead of simplifying their long awaited Windows Vista, the replacement for long-in-the tooth Windows XP, look for a pricing scheme that only the gods would understand, for Microsoft needs their customers to remain in the dark.
There have been rumblings of this for months, but look for Microsoft to attack former partners and reveal their own iPod killer to thwart Apple’s highly successful entry into the portable music player field.
Worse, look for Microsoft to bare their fangs at both customers and the Linux community by threatening patent litigation, claiming that Linux infringes Microsoft’s innovation and patent portfolio. It’s a saber they’ve rattled before.
They will rattle it again as their market and profits are further threatened by more nimble, savvy competition. Both attempts at defending the ill-gotten gains of their empire will fail.
On a level playing field, Microsoft, under current leadership, is incapable of building a product to compete successfully with Apple’s ubiquitous iPod.
Microsoft’s seemingly evil leaders will spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt about claims of Linux patent infringement that will only serve to loosen customers from their grip.
Why? It can be said that a company walks to the drum beat of their leaders. If their leaders exhibit evil, so becomes the company.
Perhaps it will be a long term benefit to the industry—customers and competition—that Microsoft continue their evil course.
They are failing and they will fail. Evil cannot triumph over good. Watch Microsoft’s course. The next few years will be interesting.
Editor’s Note: Before her death in the summer of 2006, Tera passed along her personal journal. It is filled with hundreds of comments, essays, observations, and perspectives on nearly every subject matter over a number of years.
As time permits, I will edit and publish select journal entries for Tera Talks. Some journal entries, such as the one above, are prophetic even today.—Alexis Kayhill