Chart of the day, Microsoft edition | Felix Salmon

Chart of the day, Microsoft edition | Felix Salmon.


Salmon succinctly demolishes all obvious reasons to think that this late move by MSFT is anything but a pathetic rearrangement of the deck chairs on a sinking behemoth long believed as too big to sink. (Note: Gates always claimed that was not so, when he argued that MSFT was not, really, a monopoly.)

The point, the obvious, excruciatingly obvious, point is that MSFT has missed every big fast boat in the last 15 or so years. It is not, however, just because of its arrogant blindness. It’s also been for the same reasons Sun couldn’t help but sink: The weight of legacy and prior commitments weighed down Sun and are weighing MSFT into a similar, if more spectacular, fate.

But as I have written many times before, the passing of MSFT may seem obvious to those of us outside of the matrix but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be swift; certainly not as swift as RIM’s collapse. The billions in profits that keep MSFT afloat come from legacy commitments, for desktop applications that big organizations have already bought and which they’ll renew, in all likelihood, for at least the next 5 or even 10 years–even as they add more mobile elements to the mix. But the market is expanding, and that market is not the desktop one, it’s the mobile one.

It’s also not necessarily open source. I long proclaimed that in MSFT’s vast wake open source would flourish, and it probably will. But so will a lot of other systems and products. These will have one thing in common, mobility. And we should thank Apple for that.

Why? Because Apple’s base is the consumer, not the enterprise organization. The consumer can shift allegiances swiftly and fatally; and if they like the toy they bought, and if it does work, too, then why keep the kludge at work? Why not use the toy for work, as well?

It’s a remarkable revolution in approach and inverts that which MSFT pursued in the early 90s and which resulted in WordPerfect’s demise and nearly Apple’s. Then, the idea was to insinuate the work tool into the home and thus make it even more the only thing to use.

But it also could only work if the world were frozen, and with Apple and Google promoting a hedonistic individualism that reclaimed the technological devices, it stood no chance of holding fast. Rather than looking at the device as the work tool, the Mac became “my” and a thing of pleasure–that could also, with very little effort, be used for work, too.