Thanks to Aaron for commenting on the previous post about MS discontinuing XP. It has led to a whole new thought pattern for me about vertical integration and customer choice.
Now the crux of this issue is that MS is the dominant (monopolist) player in the OS and desktop market. And they’ve achieved this through various plays, one of which is practically removing choice in the market by having the OEM companies bundle their OS with their product. That is you hardware arrives with MS in the box or preinstalled.
Now let me describe what i think is a potential perfect storm for MS competition.
Firstly, there is choice in the OS and desktop applications market. Linux is small but mainstream, similarly ODF is accepted by some really large government agencies and is growing.
OEM manufacturers are themselves trying to add some value to their customer transactions, this means it would be relatively simple for them to add ‘Linux’ as a option when you buy your hardware. (the monopolistic repercussions aside this would single-handedly be a huge play by whoever did it).*update just found this link about Dell and Linux *
Culturally, there is a growing trend toward collaborative development, freeware and DIY applications. That is, people aren’t recognising the value in vertically integrated software that they used to. What was hard is now commoditising, and by its very nature meaning that its becoming less difficult.
Added to that is SaaS as a delivery model. This in effect means that once you have a working computer (hardware and OS and a browser) and a decent internet connection, you don’t really need to purchase and office suite of apps. You can subscribe to those which you want, and not pay for a vertically integrated, costly and pre-packaged group of apps that you don’t really want (mostly).
To this whirlpool of ingredients, you throw in an arrogant self-centred play like the MS vista play and you may have in fact created just enough incentive (or resentment) that users and OEM’s might actually have reached a tipping point and will choose alternate OS’s to meet their generic requirements.
As an aside, vertically integrated products and services as a whole seem to have reached their used by date. Or perhaps we are seeing simultaneous trends around this. What i mean by this is you see Telco’s, software companies, service providers of all kind breaking their vertically integrated stacks up because of market demand, regulation and SOA type technical functionalities.