PC – Personal Computer or Politically Correct?

Published on: Author: Mike Hall Leave a comment

Back when..

DOS

The choices were:

  1. DR-DOS
  2. MS-DOS

And the winner was… MS-DOS. DR-DOS was probably better, but Digital Research didn’t respond to IBM, and Microsoft did. IBM supplied their own version of MS-DOS only on their own computers. Why didn’t Digital Research push for DR-DOS to be installed by other manufacturers? Who knows other than Digital Research. The product was good but the marketing was atrocious.

End result.. monopoly caused by intransigence on the part of IBM/Microsoft competitors.  

Windows

The choices were:

  1. Microsoft Windows
  2. OS/2

And the winner was.. Microsoft Windows because, unlike OS/2, it was available to everybody who ran MS-DOS regardless of computer make. There were no other alternatives until IBM released OS/2 Warp to users of computers which were not IBM badged. Maybe they should have acted earlier. Digital Research were still licking their wounds from the DOS era, and never produced a graphical user interface.

End result.. monopoly caused by intransigence on the part of IBM/Microsoft competitors.

By 1992, the die had been cast.

Apple Macs were an alternative only while IBM were solely controlling the PC. When the cheap IBM clone machines appeared, Apple Macs retained their price levels, thereby committing to a niche market.

Let’s face it. Windows 3/3.1 looked pretty good at the time, better than all of the other ‘home’ computers. It had an advantage too in that it was running on what was essentially a business computer, not a games machine +. Some of the other home computers were in fact very good machines but the individual manufacturers kept on producing their own vision of a home computer, and lost out because none of them were ultimately as powerful as IBM/Microsoft. Had they joined forces, maybe they could have challenged the IBM/Microsoft giant, but they didn’t.

End result.. monopoly caused by intransigence on the part of IBM/Microsoft competitors.

Browsers

The choices were:

  1. Netscape
  2. Internet Explorer

And the winner was.. Internet Explorer. At the time of release, it was the better browser. ISP’s continued to push Netscape on their connection CDs, but the majority wanted the better browser, so lobbied the ISPs to change allegiance because it saved them having to uninstall Netscape.

End result.. monopoly caused by intransigence on the part of Microsoft competitors.

Office Suites

The choices were:

  1. Microsoft Office
  2. Lotus Smartsuite
  3. WordPerfect Office

And the winner was: Microsoft Office. Lotus products were ok, but never integrated too well. IBM bought Lotus but failed to do much to improve anything. WordPerfect 5.2 was a lousy first try at a Windows word processor, and WordPerfect for Windows did not come good until version 7. In the meantime, Microsoft worked hard on their Office product, and the result was a highly capable and polished suite. If some of the features from WordPerfect and Lotus Smartsuite had been included, it would have been even better.

End result.. monopoly caused by intransigence on the part of Microsoft competitors.

Today

The choices are:

  1. A decent product
  2. An indifferent product
  3. A bad product

And the winner is: A decent product. Doesn’t matter who makes it. At the end of the day, it wasn’t IBM or Microsoft which created a monopoly. It was us, the existing and potential computer users. We dumped other products because they were going nowhere and IBM/Microsoft were making huge strides forward. If other companies had put more effort into their products, they would have been viable choices, but they didn’t and they weren’t. It was our choice. Our purchasing choices created the ‘monopoly’. Even a free operating system can’t make headway, and why? Because the people don’t want what THEY see as a substandard product.

All you people who think that we should be using something else are no better than Bill Gates making deals with computer companies to ship his operating system with every computer. In actual fact, you are worse because you don’t offer an acceptable alternative, that is ‘acceptable to us’. You can lobby governments for a political decision all you like, but ultimately we will find our way to what we like and what works for ‘us’ as individuals. Make a decent product and we will give it a whirl. Make it bad and the deal’s off.

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