Where would the computing world be if Microsoft never existed?

“This piece is the first in a series of articles that seeks to answer two basic questions: ‘Where would the computing world be if Microsoft never existed?’ and ‘Would the computing world be better off without its 20 years of influence?’ This series will start off with an unbiased, alternate history in which Microsoft doesn’t rise to power. Then, alternate histories will be constructed for various key players (past and present) to examine how they might have ended up had Microsoft not existed. Finally, after analyzing the most likely ‘alternate’ course of history a conclusion will be reached to determine whether or not Microsoft’s existence has ultimately done more harm than good,” James R. Stoup writes for Apple Matters.

Stoup writes, “While writing these articles various opinions were solicited from different types of users. Most people fell into one of two categories: the ‘Microsoft Unites’ camp and the ‘Microsoft Suppresses’ camp. Depending then, on which side one favors, Microsoft’s influence on history (or lack thereof) will either be positive or negative.”

Stoup plans a six-part series of articles:
1: What if Microsoft never existed?
2: A Destiny Destroyed
3: Amiga, Apple, HP, Dell and IBM, Hardware Without the “Microsoft Tax”
4: Apple, Amiga, BeOS, Linux and Unix, how the Other Operating Systems Fared
5: Intel, AMD, Motorola and IBM, Rise of the Machines
6: Where Could We Be?

“Part 1 – What if Microsoft never existed?” full article here.

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Related MacDailyNews article:
FBI: Viruses, spyware, other computer-related crimes cost U.S. businesses $67.2 billion per year – February 01, 2006


  1. We would have had hundreds of billions more tax dollars to spend lost to malware. One missile for each and every American to protect themselves from terrorists, for example.

  2. Microsoft was not bad until it had the near monopoly. Most of the early computers used Microsoft’s BASIC, but IBM’s decision to build the PC from commodity parts opened the door for Microsoft to reach the next level as they could sell to anyone. DOS was not bad, it was nothing special but it was not bad. Culprit number two is Apple, they (Sculley) gave MS all they needed to make windows viable.

    Where would the world be without Microsoft? Probably with a smaller computer market, but a more advanced one as hardware competition would have brought out more advances. Microsoft created the commodity PC market that has produced the explosion of computers will starving the R&D.

    Would Steve Jobs have ever been forced out and created NeXT? Perhaps Microsoft is the necessary evil.

    We will never know, perhaps it is best to just trust in Providence.

  3. Ampar

    The USA needs more missiles? How about better schools and free healthcare?

    And back on topic,

    Amiga would still have bit the dust.
    UNIX and Linux would still be marginal players.
    Apple OS10 would be OS9 with a few extra bells and whistles.

    Microsoft’s playing dirty has caused other players to raise their game. Mac computing for one is better thanks to MS being there. The human race as a whole has possibly suffered. There’s a lot of brainy people who could have been better applied.

  4. Halo AND Duke Nukem Forever! And the Earth would have been renamed Blisstonia.

    TF: Don’t go ballistic! I think Popular Science a few issues back showed how to make your own silo. And the intarweb has the scoop on do-it-yourself trajectiles. It’s all in the details.

  5. I like Bobby’s take, I think it has somehow held back innovation. It is a bit like the auto industry, the internal combustion engine is still essentially the same as it was when it was invented, but this one ‘standard’ has given many many people independance. There are so many sides to this discussion, standards do seem to stifle, but the upside is that it allows more people to participate.

  6. Dave:
    I hear that the Pentagon is working on missiles that only target bad people. That’s the real reason for Vista. It has secret built-in “bad people” masking that creates a shield over Redmond, WA. This is very hush hush. In fact, I heard that a hunting buddy of Dick Cheney’s found out about this.

  7. Apple and ist more artistic way of computing just needs the Microsoft challenge to make the beautiful things they have now.
    Let Microsoft be the Office and Mac’s be the Studio.

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