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VNU Net: Microsoft still dominant on the desktop [Gartner]

By Linda Leung, VNU Net

Linux and Java have failed to usurp Microsoft’s dominant
position on the desktop and it is unlikely that any other contender
will succeed unless it offers something completely radical,
according to researcher Gartner.

Michael Gartenberg, a research director at Gartner, said neither
Linux nor Java will replace Windows because they offer no
compelling difference in technology. “It must be something visible
and clearly undeniable, and be tangible for independent software
vendors [ISVs] to support,” he said.

However, he compared Microsoft’s position with the recording
industry’s vinyl standard which enjoyed domination for years until
the introduction of CDs radically changed the market overnight.
“When a technology shift occurs it happens really fast and the same
could happen to Windows,”
he told delegates at Gartner’s US
Spring Symposium this week.

Microsoft has been successful by building a “positive feedback
loop” that makes original equipment manufacturers, ISVs and end
users dependent on each other, said Gartenberg. One example is
Microsoft’s Office architecture which has become a de facto
standard for file formats, making it difficult for rivals to
penetrate and users to break out. Through this the software giant
has been able to integrate all its platforms, he said.

Gartenberg said it is this ability to integrate that Microsoft
has been defending in its recent antitrust case with the US
Department of Justice (DoJ). But until the final judgement in the
legal battle against the DoJ is made, Microsoft will continue to be
aggressive and do things to suit itself. This is despite the recent
TV advertising campaign in the US which depicts Microsoft chairman
Bill Gates as a wholesome innovator.

Gartenberg concluded: “Microsoft has learned the value of good
public relations. It can’t treat the US Federal Judge like it
treats [Oracle chief executive] Larry Ellison.”