Steve Ballmer tells reporters that href="http://blog.wired.com/monkeybites/2007/10/ballmer-microso.html">Microsoft
will buy 20 companies a
year for the next 5 years, paying “between 50 or 100 million
couple hundred million each.” He also gave his email address,
anyone to use if they have something to sell.
So, I went out to my garage to see if I had any old companies laying
Then it struck me: we could sell ScienceBlogs!
What would Microsoft get in the deal?
A modicum of favorable attention (nobody has ill will toward
ScienceBlogs), some positive press, dozens of acceptably intelligent
people who excel at constructive criticism, and the worlds largest
conversation about science. We would be really good at
testing any new software. If there is a flaw, we will find it
and let them — and everyone else — know about it rather quickly.
But seriously, Microsoft does have to broaden its portfolio.
Operating systems are getting to the point where they all do
the same things. Some are more efficient than others.
Windows tries to be all things to all people, but in doing so, it has
to follow a path that does not permit much innovation.
If you look at Windows and chart out their pace of innovation, the
curve would be fairly steep from versions 1 to 95, flatten quite a bit
for 98 and ME, perk up a bit for XP, and have a small bump for Vista.
The curve with their office software is similar.
In contrast, if you look at he progress various types of Linux for the
desktop, you see that the innovation has been rampant especially in the
past few years.
Plus, there are a few areas the Windows simply cannot and will not
match. Many of the reviews of the more prominent new Linux
releases (Ubuntu family, OpenSUSE) stress how the installation has
gotten to be simple. What is just as important, though, is
the ease of re-installation. That is,
once you finally succeed in completely toasting your system, how
quickly can you bring it back?
Windows keeps getting worse. No, I am not referring to the
product activation, although that is an issue. Rather, what I
am referring to is the question of how quickly you can get the system
up and running with all your applications.
After all, the system is only there to support the
With Windows, you have to scrounge up all your installation disks, find
all the activation codes, and laboriously install them one-by-one.
With Linux, the installation disk for the operating system
contains most of your applications, and they are installed along with
the operating system. Other applications have to be
downloaded, but that is simply a matter of checking off the ones you
want on a list, then clicking once to install the bunch of them.
What is more, you can have a pretty complete system running in minutes,
even if your hard drive has become a brick, and even with no Internet
access. That is done with a live CD.
Anyway, the point is that high-priced operating systems for the home
desktop are going to go away. Microsoft has lots of other
products, but without the operating system linchpin, it is going to be
increasingly difficult to maintain anything like a monopoly.
Hence, they need to diversify.
Google is grabbing the information market. So what about the
idea market? Is it possibly to corporatize the idea market?
Or perhaps more precisely, the critical-thinking market?