Microsoft Dominos - Tipping Point?

by Mike Levin SEO & Datamaster, 10/03/2005

Remember the old Cold War domino theory? It ended up not being true, but there appears to be another one brewing in IT. The war is of course Microsoft vs. Open Systems, and the most interesting article I’ve read on the topic is from ZDNet, which provocatively positions it as Microsoft vs. Massachusetts.

But I label this blog post as Microsoft Dominos, just to point out a few of the dominos that have started falling that could trigger off a whole series of events. Granted, I don’t under-estimate MS Offices’ fortification, but as PCs get cost-reduced and commoditized even far-beyond their current level, even the cost of Windows XP Starter Edition is as much as the cost of the whole rest of the PC. And an under-reported news story from August about the $230 PC in India that uses Linux was yet another domino, as they try to move the number of people who own PCs in India from 15 million to 75 million. That’s a lot of copies of Linux in a land that’s particularly good at training the next generation of high-tech workforce. Get the picture?

Then, there are the moves towards open source in Munich, Vienna, Paris, Bergen, and the UK. These government arguments, along with the India low-cost PC, appear to come down to cost. Governments are unwilling to keep moving along to the next upgrade at a cost of millions, and private industry is unwilling increase their costs and lower their margins. In other words, more and more entities are tired of paying the Microsoft tax.

In the end, Microsoft’s most powerful ally is inertia. People go with what they know, and they use what’s pre-installed on their home and office PCs. Displacing that isn’t going to be easy. It takes a sweeping, disruptive technology backed by a genius marketing plan, timed well with the holiday season, backed by word-of-mouth buzz, and a price point that lets it gain market dominance in a previously undefined niche before the competitors catch on. Enter Google—just the company that can push that first domino to the tipping point. But then, I’m just seeing a Rorschach pattern.