Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The economics of Microsoft

This July 17 NY Times article (watching an ad/registration required) has been passing its way around the blogosphere, and I thought I'd put in my 2 pennies. Ordinarily, one would expect that one who produces a bad product would quickly be thrown out of a free market. Spyware, adware and virus infections are not a natural consequence of running a computer. They are symptoms of bugs and badly designed software. However, it seems that Microsoft has managed once again to turn the flaws in its product into a revenue stream. After all, of the $400 cost of a new computer, somewhere between $50-$100 is going to Microsoft. By introducing products like their own anti-virus and anti-spyware tools (and, belatedly including a firewall into their operating system), they've managed to convince users that they're making an effort to improve computer security. But, the “blockers” are mere patches for a bigger problem, namely, the original bad design of the system. Meanwhile, through upgrades and subscription based services, the user ends up paying for the company's mistakes. So, it is to Microsoft's advantage not to continue selling licenses for broken software, because users will keep eating it up!

And, this, despite the existence of alternatives! May I ask who's to blame for the vicious cycle?

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