Strategic Intent — Microsoft is Not the Devil
I blog for Intel on a Retail Edge website that’s focused on a specific audience. I just did a post on strategic intent there, and I thought it might be interesting to modify the post for here.
We’ve already been doing some comparisons on quality and ease-of-use between PC and Mac, and Lynn’s covered some Linux OSS stuff as well. While our maturity level here is low, we’ve yet to devolve into a rant on Microsoft being the evil empire or anything. We’ll save our abuse for when we show up to Redmond and heap it in private. Microsoft has done an amazing job over the years of meeting its strategic intent in this particular area. It’s kept a laser focus on it.
Back in the DOS days, Microsoft established itself as a provider of operating systems to personal computers that weren’t made by IBM. Big Blue had its own DOS, and Microsoft had rights to produce it more widely, enabling the start of the horizontal PC market that we all love today. Many people forget, but Microsoft and IBM worked together on OS/2, Windows, and NT. I’m glossing over a lot, but you get the point.
Microsoft pursues a strategy of enabling software for the masses. Go check out a Microsoft validation lab some time. There are thousands of different machines with different configurations that have to be tested with the software to ensure there are no bugs. If anything, this task has gotten harder over time as the marketplace has expanded. Their tactics and actions are all focused on maintaining that mass appeal.
Apple has a different intent. They are focused on providing a higher-level experience to a much smaller audience with more specific requirements. A PC OEM with a similar intent referres to “skimming the cream” from the market, which I believe Apple does in spades. Apple has done a great job in the past identifying a customer base and satisfying those needs. The configurations are limited enough that they can get away with things like changing the underlying system architecture… twice!
Enter Linux. There are many vendors, but if you do an average, what you find is that Linux is looking to split the difference. The vendors for the most part are not focused on the masses. The audience is more focused, more sophisticated, and is willing to do some work. At the same time, there are a huge number of devices and systems that need to be supported, and the validation and patching is pretty extreme.
I’m over word count again. But I thought it important to get this down for discussion. Looking at the intent and refining it is important long-term to understanding where it’ll go from there.