Microsoft is dead

Apple StorePaul Graham is an essayist, programmer, and programming language designer. In 1995 he developed with Robert Morris the first web-based application, Viaweb, which was acquired by Yahoo in 1998. In 2002 he described a simple Bayesian spam filter that inspired most current filters. He’s currently working on a new programming language called Arc, a new book on startups, and is one of the partners in Y Combinator, a venture firm specializing in funding early stage startups that helps startups move from idea to company.

Graham blogs, “A few days ago I suddenly realized Microsoft was dead.”

“Microsoft cast a shadow over the software world for almost 20 years starting in the late 80s. I can remember when it was IBM before them. I mostly ignored this shadow. I never used Microsoft software, so it only affected me indirectly—for example, in the spam I got from botnets. And because I wasn’t paying attention, I didn’t notice when the shadow disappeared,” Graham writes. “But it’s gone now. I can sense that. No one is even afraid of Microsoft anymore. They still make a lot of money—so does IBM, for that matter. But they’re not dangerous.”

Graham writes: What killed them? Four things, I think, all of them occurring simultaneously in the mid 2000s:
• Google
• Ajax
• broadband Internet
• Apple

Graham writes, “Thanks to OS X, Apple has come back from the dead in a way that is extremely rare in technology. [2] Their victory is so complete that I’m now surprised when I come across a computer running Windows. Nearly all the people we fund at Y Combinator use Apple laptops. It was the same in the audience at startup school. All the computer people use Macs or Linux now. Windows is for grandmas, like Macs used to be in the 90s… And of course Apple has Microsoft on the run in music too, with TV and phones on the way.”

Full article here.

Related articles:
Microsoft faces mutiny: Dell to expand Linux factory-installed options; HP dumps Media Center PCs – March 29, 2007
Spate of recent Mac security stories signal that Microsoft, others getting nervous – March 06, 2006
Apple’s Mac is not doomed to small market share forever; the ‘Ignorance Lag’ is ending – February 11, 2005
Defending Windows over Mac a sign of mental illness – December 20, 2003

78 Comments

  1. A lot of people focus on Google, but ignore the work that Amazon deliver via some of their commercial services like S3.

    That quibble apart, this guy is theoretically correct: technologies like AJAX & Ruby On Rails are being so aggressively developed that even a doofus like me has managed to knock up some interesting proof of concepts whilst I’ve been lying around this weekend suffering from a chest infection.

    The key challenge though is to still get people to desert Internet Explorer and all of the tricks that Microsoft have played over the years (like ActiveX) which locked people into their technology.

  2. The Author is apparently a consultant or venture capitalist who attends events and meetings with young entrepreneurial types and has noticed the stunning lack of consideration of Microsoft as a significant feature of their world. This is the context of his comments.

    FTA: Their victory [Apple’s] is so complete that I’m now surprised when I come across a computer running Windows.

    and this footnote about why

    In part because Steve Jobs got pushed out by John Sculley in a way that’s rare among technology companies. If Apple’s board hadn’t made that blunder, they wouldn’t have had to bounce back.

  3. Like Apple some time ago???????

    LOL….history is repeating, but this time in reverse mode.

    Apple was dying, and now its more alive than ever. Same thing, i guess.

    Wonder why not a MacDailyNews take here. Oh well…

  4. “Microsoft cast a shadow over the software world for almost 20 years starting in the late 80s. I can remember when it was IBM before them. I mostly ignored this shadow. I never used Microsoft software, “

    If you made a point of not using MS software in the last 20 years, that makes you extremely aware of Microsoft, I would call that the opposite of ignoring them. The fact that you knew there were alternatives to using Windows in the 90’s means you’re extremely aware, hardly ‘ignoring’ them.

    Boycotting Nike gives Nike more power, not less. Ignoring Nike gives them less power. Get it?

    Beyond this gay e-machosmo, this guy does talk some sense. MS is a joke, and Windows is a frigging laughing stock. Guess what, MS without Bill Gates is like the Bulls without MJ.

    Remember when Ballmer called Longhorn the ‘bet the company’ risk?

  5. Well, “extintion is forever.”

    But don’t count M$ out just yet. They have billions in the bank and extremely well-honed, if illegal, business practices. They still have a strangle hold on standard IT shops where the sheep fight Linux and Mac with all the FUD they’re worth.

    M$ are not dead, but they are rotting from the top down.

  6. “Sounds like a Apple Fan Boy. I am, but see MS all over at every business I enter. Including BIG business. Is he dreaming ten years out?”

    So? Those would be the last one’s to jump ship. MS is still the Titanic with Ballmer manning things.

    Don’t forget, geek IT managers are still gonna love MS for all the same reasons. But that doesn’t make MS a ‘hot’ company. Competing against free Linux software on that front sucks ass too, driving prices down down down..

    Apple is hot where the margins are, MS is hot where they ain’t.
    MS is also content to piss away money with the Xbox and Zune, which is annoying to shareholders.

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