What goes around comes around. That certainly seems to be the case in the latest Microsoft – Google spat over the Youtube app for Windows Phone this week.
A quick history lesson may put this ‘Aw mummy that’s not fair’ blog post by David Howard into perspective.
Back in the early days of Windows and corporate networking, Microsoft was continually accused of making it very difficult for competing vendors to integrate their applications with the Windows and Windows NT operating systems. These were most notable when dealing with Novell’s Netware and Lotus cc:Mail (subsequently Notes) and generally resulted due to Microsoft keeping the core of their code, which included optimisations for their native and competing applications, close to their chest. Most IT standards of the time were commonly referred to either as the correct, globally recognised RFC version or the ‘Microsoft version’ due to Microsoft choosing to work to their own standards, again restricting integration external to their organisation.
This was well known amongst those who supported these systems and many manual workarounds and non-standard designs were created directly as a result of these ‘competitive’ practices. Any complaints from competitors were generally met with a smug disdain with the implication that their software was more likely at fault.
Microsoft maintained this consistent air of ‘Oh doesn’t it work that well?’ and ‘Ah well, best buy our software and it will all integrate perfectly’ whilst, as hindsight now shows, they massively eroded their competition’s market share. Not least, I accept, due to their quickly dominating the desktop operating system market (in a large part due to cleverly not copy protecting it) which did also make it easier to hinder competitors code.
So now, the shoe is on the other foot. Open source, fair and transparent access to all has become the standard that many feel will provide true choice, where commercial entities merely restrict it. For any other complaints one may have about them and there are many, at least Google’s actions have brought these activities more publicity and exposed the continued doublespeak that passes for caring for customers in large global organisations.
Take a simple example that affects many millions of people around the world every day that could be solved if Microsoft and others chose to work openly with other organisations for the benefit of its customers. It may not be something you’re interested in but it holds many parallels to how mobile computing is and will continue to develop. (Check Jolla from December of this year..)
Cross platform gaming.
One of the best selling points of a gaming console for the vendor is exclusivity. If marketing a popular game franchise that is only available for your console. More people will buy it. OK, that seems a reasonable means of enticing people to your product in the same way as sport is passed from TV broadcaster to broadcaster based on who can corner the market.
However. What about games that are released on every console and allow multi-player online gaming?
Having played one of these games on different consoles, you could be excused for thinking that the game appears to be nigh on exactly the same. Yet for some reason it is impossible for someone that owns an Xbox console to play this game against a person playing on a Playstation. Now what would that reason be? Is it that it is too difficult and costly to write code and create online platforms to enable this or is it because organisations would rather ensure their customers enjoy a restricted choice to ensure that their competitors fail?
I know, due to my 25+ years of playing with technology, that it is certainly the latter and as you will know based on the current battle of the operating systems continuing on mobile phones today. The fact that the average person these days can ‘root’ their mobile phone to get access to the apps and functions that their network providers have hidden, shows that the public truly won’t accept such treatment any more. Skype was the classic first public outcry in this regard as when it first gave people the chance to make free phone calls over the internet on a mobile phone, most mobile phone networks restricted access to the application on the phone hardware that they provided.
So, while it is entirely possible for these global organisations to cooperate and truly provide choice and quality to their customers, they will continue to ring fence, limit access and actively spend resources to impede the development and integration of the best of technology to the majority of people purely ‘to compete better’.
Stop taking straw polls from ‘carefully’ chosen focus groups, telling people how popular something is before you’ve sold many and actually make some effort to learn what customers truly want. Then you won’t continue to sell products like the, hee hee, Surface ‘dance and click’ RT.. (Maybe you could bundle two free with every Windows Phone sold to make them incredibly ‘popular’?)
I do thank Microsoft for once again making me laugh yet again today after this week of my predictions from last year being somewhat proven, regarding the debacle that Windows Update would become. Whilst I imagine that David Howard is a very important and intelligent person, one does get the feeling that his blog post resulted from ‘Billy B’ Ballmer stamping up and down, throwing the toys out of the pram again, to be released as what reads hilariously akin to “It’s not fair, we got away with doing this to people for years and now it’s being done to us, we don’t like it, so, WE’RE TELLING ON YOU!!”
Ahh, petal. Issa nasty company not playing nicely? 😉