Remember when Microsoft’s Bill Gates was the richest man in the world? Well, not all seems to be going Bill’s way these days. For two centuries, or less, Microsoft’s Windows ruled the personal computer universe and because it included Windows Internet Explorer (IE), it ruled the world of browsers.
Over the years, however, there have been contenders for Microsoft’s various thrones. Unix and Linux have fought for their share in the war over operating systems and rivals for the browser market have included Opera, Netscape, Firefox, and Google’s Chrome.
While Microsoft has been able to fight off challenges to it’s Windows OS it’s not been so lucky protecting IE. In May of 2012 it was announced that for the first time Google’s Chrome had become the most commonly used browser in the world. That is especially important when you consider that Internet Explorer is embedded in Windows and is designed to make every effort to pressure every Windows user to default to it and not a competitor. Both popular rivals of IE, Firefox and Chrome, are free but must deliberately be downloaded, installed, and made to become the default browser of choice. It is significant that so many users have been willing to take these extra steps to avoid using IE.
Since May I seen a couple more signs that Microsoft is loosing it’s grip on the PC market. Just this past week I saw a television commercial advertising Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Bill Gates is actually spending money to promote what never needed promoting before. As significant, if not more so, yesterday’s business headlines announced that for the first time since becoming a publicly traded company, Microsoft had experienced a quarterly loss in profits.
Now, I’m not really thinking Bill Gates is going to end up eating pork and beans from a tin can under a railroad bridge someplace. And I’m not predicting the collapse of his company anytime soon. But, there are signs that Humpty’s shell may have a few cracks in it.
Microsoft is still a giant and has the resources to maintain its grasp on the mountain’s top. But, it certainly needs to re-evaluate its place in the market and make whatever adaptations necessary. Many of us remember when the demise of Apple seemed certain but today Apple is one of the world’s most profitable companies. I’m not counting Gates out.