Is Microsoft at its "most vulnerable moment in history", or poised to take over the world?
In a two-part report we explored the challenges and opportunities facing the software giant.
But what do our readers think?
The majority of the world's population are lazy, Microsoft is easy, Linux is mystery!
Microsoft is trying desperately to become a niche player. It knows that the PC is now a commodity and it can't compete on price against the Open Source Software out there, all of which is free. It's MS Office software and MS Windows operating system will inevitably be replaced by Open Office and Linux, the economics ensure this, it's simply a matter of time.
Colin Smith, Glasgow, Scotland
I say long live Microsoft and I hope it's range of products last well into the future. As an IT Professional most of my peers would pour scorn on me for saying that. But if you think most people in IT who are involved with MS products wouldn't have a job today if MS didn't produce allegedly inferior products. Don't bite the hand that fees you.
Linux on the desktop has arrived, for my parents at least. All they use it for is email, browsing the internet and writing the occasional letter anyway. And yes, I'm the one who maintains it, but I was also the one who maintained their old Windows machine, and the Linux one is a lot easier to keep secure.
Chris Rankin, UK
I for one will sticking with Firefox and not downloading Internet Explorer 7. In my opinion Microsoft is again playing its tired old game of simply bringing its software up to the level of the competition, and not improving upon it much. And I dont believe for a minute that IE7 is going to be much more secure than previous versions of IE. They were making the same noises about XP service pack 2, and we're all still reading about new security vuneranilities and exploits that we always were. Firefox on the other hand is like a breath of fresh air!
Colin Steadman, Birmingham
I think Microsoft will beat its rivals. We are seeing it already. Linux is getting dropped for Microsoft products. Simply because they are easier to use. People shouldn't knock what they don't understand.
Microsoft have it right.
Gareth Owen, Congleton, Cheshire
I still believe that Microsoft is making a huge error in trying to be "all things to all men". It is doomed to fail because people require, even demand, choice. If there is no choice but Microsoft then people start to see what else is better or even just different.
The growth of Linux is some proof of that occurring already. I'm not anti-Microsoft - credit where it's due, I use MS Office and happily use Windows, but you can't expect consumers to end up with only one technology source. It would be like only offering everyone in the UK one type of car... a Rover!
Rob McGregor, Reading, UK
The market is still large enough to hold and sustain giants such as Microsoft, as well as a multitude of smaller, sometimes exotic companies. Microsoft has achieved a lot, and it did help PCs to become omnipresent. Without Microsoft it still would be a world of IBM and Oracle and that would be a lot more expensive world open only to larger corporations. I am happy for Bill Gates making his vision true. As for our digital world ... wish it would work out of the box.
Alex, Athens, Greece
Microsoft will not be beaten in this generation or the next, Microsoft is an integral part of computer culture, it's 'normal' to use Windows, it's 'normal' to use Office.
Hussein, Sydney, Australia
Thankfully Microsoft went into its half life a few years ago. its policy of making bad software and adding to it (Windows ME being windows 95, Windows XP being NT) and deliberately insecure ('Active desktop' and 'Push Technology') will finally pay off. We haven't all moved to Linux yet but Mac have and most institutions will, it won't be long before we all follow and even Microsoft admit that to make their CD products securely they use Unix so we should follow their example.
Microsoft will doubtless be around for a long time to come. However, if they want me back as a customer, they will have to improve security and also get rid of the glitzy American stuff that nobody wants or needs. Microsoft is aiming at the American market, not the world-wide one.
If they want me back as a customer, they will have to improve security
And Linux is a serious threat to them. It is just not true that we will have to wait '10 years until Linux becomes a consumer product'. I have dumped Microsoft and followed the Suse Linux motto 'simply change'. I installed the Suse 9.1 Personal distribution, and I will not go back to Microsoft. And yes, I would like my security issues discussed in an open forum. At least that is planned, whereas Microsoft ends up having its issues discussed whether or no, despite all the secrecy.
D. Fear, Heidelberg, Germany
Convergence huh! How about OpenDoc by Apple in 1997? Wasn't Apple demonstrating 'convergence' through Java applets and OpenDoc back then? How about OSX and iLife in 2005? Will Microsoft ever become innovative, beside its capacity to replicate ideas sourced from alternative solutions? We should recognise that Linux and Apple provide digital alternatives for both geeks and ordinary consumers. Microsoft's vision is unimaginative, uninspiring and continually fails to deliver.
Interesting thoughts from MS but watch out for MS marketing using the 'New Car Model', you can have your new car, in various versions, today. But you will get a steering wheel in a couple of months, followed by a 4th wheel six months later, but if you want a spare wheel you will have to wait 2 years and pay for it!
Microsoft may be worried by the young pretenders to it's crown, but Microsoft will win out in the end.
Microsoft may be worried by the young pretenders to it's crown, but Microsoft will win out in the end.
Why? because Microsoft has a big pot to spend on r & d into new software, and at the end of the day 90% of us will go with Microsoft because despite the flaws in the operating systems, we all understand windows and all now how to use it. If you look at the way apple has taken the download market by storm with the i-pod, they were the first, now you can pick up an mp3 player for less than £50 in your local Argos.
Bill Gates didn't get where he is today by backing down from a challenge. Microsoft will continue to dominate the market.
James Jones, Bristol, England
It's unfortunate that the article doesn't question further the Microsoft approach to security on Longhorn. Building security in from "ground up" is obviously preferable to the "bolt on" solution, but Microsoft's approach of uniquely identifying computers has serious implications for privacy and free choice. How soon will it be I wonder before music and video locked with Digital Rights Management (DRM) is touted as being of security benefit to us etc?
Ultimately, it comes down to how willing you are to trust Microsoft to get security right. Microsoft have some great products there's no doubt about that, but would I ever use any of their PC-based products online? Not on your life! I'll stick with using Linux for anything I need to do online thanks Bill!
Mark McBride, Wirral
I believe that Microsoft are the greatest software company ever, they have blown the market away because of their excellent product and the future look good for them.
Microsoft products, especially their operating systems, are the single point of failure in any serious IT environment.
Ever flashier styles and multimedia elements cater to the projected taste of the mass market, while core issues of stability and performance remain a problem. An operation system suited for casual gaming, as such, it will certainly have a future, though not in the professional field.
Adnan Ibrahim, Montpellier France
While all operating system, including Linux or Apple, are prone to security problems, the reason that Microsoft systems are the most targeted is not simply due to market share. For example, the majority of web sites, nearly 70%, run on Apache servers yet it is Microsoft's IIS that is the target of choice for hackers because Apache is inherently more secure.
Joseph Haig, Manchester, UK
Microsoft's biggest problem is that it is disliked by the majority of corporate IT managers. They don't like Gates or his company. Linux will eventually be the downfall of Microsoft in the corporate world. The enormous licences that Microsoft charges per 'seat' can be cut in one stroke by going Linux and corporates with the IT resources to support Linux will be the battleground. As for the home, Microsoft doesn't stand a chance against real consumer electronics companies like Sony, Matsushita etc. Microsoft started as a software operating system for IBM PCs and has never really made the transition to hardware. It will probably eventually have to accept that it is a software company and continue to make millions that way and give up making boxes.
Microsoft's biggest problem is that it is disliked by the majority of corporate IT managers
John Farmer, Henley-on-Thames, UK
To have started as a very small company then achieve global domination I think we have to say that Microsoft is going to be around for a long time to come. If they can get the security issues sorted in their web browser & OS software then really there is going to be no competition. For me I think Microsoft are thinking and saying the right things about the future, will they produce? We will just have to wait and see if they listen to their customers.
Phillip Probert, Sheffield, England
The only reason Linux needs to be installed by a computer-literate person is that Windows comes pre-installed on most PCs. But ask around: your local custom PC builder might supply a machine with a user-friendly Linux, such as Linspire or Xandros, for much the same price as a shop-bought Windows PC.
John Ingleby, Kimgs Langley, UK
As a system administrator I spend a lot of time re-installing Windows desktop computers because of viruses, worms, adware, spyware etc. etc. or just because Windows will become unstable after some time. Of course I have to thank MS because I am paid to do so. But, I actually prefer to earn my money doing positive things. Thank God for the Linux servers that protect the important data, prevent hackers from compromising the desktop machines and filter out most of the MS viruses. But this is damage control. The real solution would be Linux on the desktop. And it will come. Even for your grandmother. It will take some time, but it will come... It's getting better every day.
Would you really want your Home Entertainment Center to run under Windows ??
Leo Gruijters, Bakel - The Netherlands
Microsoft promises to deliver secure and better OS since '95; and continues to promise. In 1994 they promised what existed in OS/2 and delivered "partially" with Windows 95; by not porting any of their applications to OS/2 they win the game.
Now I'm writing these lines under Linux; using Mozilla and I don't have and need any Microsoft products any more. Game is Over.
Mahmut Sedat Erogul, Ankara - Turkey
The majority of the worlds population are poor. Linux is free. Microsoft is history!
The community based open source revolution is going to be a model for many more revolutions to come.
Philip Werner, Blackheath, Australia