Do We Really Need a New Microsoft?

December 5, 2011 No Comments

The discussion is already nearly five years old, and yet the vacancy in the public conscience persists as if something big had collapsed just last week. Microsoft is no longer the dominating, polarizing force that it was in the previous decade. The mindset of the company that once preached to its employees, “Every line of code that is written to our standards is a small victory; every line of code that is written to any other standard, is a small defeat,” has exited out the back door and sneaked past the gaze of European regulators.

And boy, do we ever miss it. From the moment Ycombinator co-founder Paul Graham famously proclaimed “Microsoft is Dead,” our casting couches have been warmed by the seats of would-be substitutes. Like it or not, Microsoft fulfilled a latent psychological need in many folks’ minds: the need for a strongly polarizing force that made it easier to decide what to like and what to hate.

Humble pie

The very fact that this may be a valid question suggests, as my colleague Joe Brockmeier recently remarked in a discussion on the topic, that Microsoft is no longer Microsoft. The need for “a Microsoft” is about the desire for something to base our arguments for the future of computingagainst. “Openness” was so much easier to define when one could simply point to Microsoft and say, “Not that.”

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