Windoz The "All Microsoft" Environment

The Case for Conformity

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Choosing other than what Microsoft dictates seems like swimming upstream against a flood. This is more than many people want to deal with. Most select "All Microsoft" without a thought - often without even knowing there is anything else.

Microsoft has worked very hard to achieve this situation, leveraging the operating system monopoly IBM handed them for all it is worth. They have used, and continue to use, every means at their disposal, including means that are "questionable" from both legal and ethical standpoints to make it difficult for you to make any other choice.

Nonetheless, we live in a world of choices, and some of those choices are strengthening despite Microsoft's best efforts. It pays to understand your choice, even if that choice is to ignore all other options. Here is the case for conformity:

Microsoft Products Work Best with Other Microsoft Products

"This behavior is by design". When a competitor releases a great new product, If you install it, it will work fine for a while, then start giving you trouble. Microsoft's control over development tools allows them to "update" the DLL libraries distributed with most Windows software products. It is surprising (is it really?) how often these DLL changes create instabilities in the products of their major competitors. Almost every Windows software product you install "updates" Windows as part of the install.

Peer Pressure is Powerful

Everyone you know is running Microsoft. They may complain bitterly about all the problems they have, and the loss of productivity, but they simply won't accept anything else, and they will look at you as awfully strange if you do.

Your Business Partners push you to Microsoft

Most are using Microsoft Office, and that runs only on Windows. They may want to exchange Word and Excel documents with you, and haven't the slightest idea what to do if you send them something that is not in the very latest Office format. Star Office, WordPerfect and Applixware have excellent translators, but translation of complex documents can be imperfect.

Business partners may send you special software they expect you to run that runs only on Windows95/98, or data files that work only with Microsoft Access. It takes real guts to "just say no".

Your Employees Demand Microsoft

Microsoft spends a great deal of their design time making sure their Windows applications are visually entertaining. Employees like that. Also, Windows is what they have at home, and they want to be able to move things to and from home freely.

Employees may want to bring games from home to play "during lunch". They can't do that without Windows95/98. They want to play with fonts, screen savers, and "wallpaper", and they don't know how to do that except in Windows.

In fact, the only employees who generally do not have Windows at home are skilled IS (Information Services) staff. When they go home, they are tired and want something that works, so they have OS/2 or Linux.

Applications Software

Most advertised applications software is written only for Windows. There may be plenty of business software for non Microsoft environments easily as good, but not by companies you have ever see in slick magazine advertisements - they are not pitching to the consumer market. If you want to try out all the nifty new stuff you see in the computer magazines, you have no choice: Windows95/98.

A major strategy in Microsoft's quest for monopoly is to starve other environments of applications software. This has been most vigorously used against OS/2, which Microsoft's own employees admit (generally after leaving the company) is far superior to anything they have.

If a Windows software developer tries to make versions of their products for non Microsoft environments, Microsoft threatens them with dire consequences. Port any product to OS/2, Unix or Linux, and they'd better be prepared to be on Microsoft's enemies list forever. This takes more balls than most software developers have.

Professionals and Specialized Software

Many Professionals simply no longer have any choice at all. They depend on specialized software available from only a couple vendors, and it all runs only on Windows95/98 (or will soon). How often we hear, "I'd love to get away from Windows, but I depend on this software package, so I have no choice".

Availability of Trained Employees

It is very easy to find new employees or temps who know the Microsoft products. They will bitch and moan about not having Microsoft even if you give them Star Office, which works very much like MS Office. It just isn't Microsoft, you see. And it doesn't have the dancing paper clip!

Conversely, your employees will have no problem at all taking the Microsoft skills they learn at your expense to another employer for better pay.

Conclusion

This all may seem to make your "All Microsoft" decision a "no brainer", but, we recommend you reopen your brain for a bit and check out the Downside to see just what it is you are getting into. The benefits, however attractive, come at a high cost - maybe even more than you are willing to pay.

©:Andrew Grygus - Automation Access - www.aaxnet.com - aax@aaxnet.com
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