A Brief (Counterfactual) History of Microsoft and Windows Corp.

On April 3rd, 2000 Judge Jackson found that Microsoft were guilty of Monopolization and should be broken into two separate companies. One that made Windows, the other that made all their other products. In September of that year, Microsoft appealed and won and was never broken up. The following is an imagined history of what would have happened if they hadn’t appealed.

Since the breakup of Microsoft in late 2000 the two companies; Windows Corp. and Microsoft Applications Software have (MAS) taken such divergent parts that it’s hard to imagine they were ever part of the same company.

Things started badly for Windows Corp with it’s Windows XP launch turning into a major flop. Dogged by a poor image following the judgement and beset by security issues from the start, Windows XP failed to displace Windows 2000 in the enterprise and Windows 98 at home. The newly formed Windows Corp simply didn’t have the clout to push XP into the market, which left the door open for a Dell-RedHat partnership to give Linux a foothold in the enterprise desktop market.

Things turned a corner though in 2002 with the launch of Windows Corp’s Xbox console. In development since before the break up, the Xbox re-focused Windows Corp firmly as a consumer oriented company. Windows Corp gained a significant market share in the game console market, through it’s Xbox and Xbox 360 consoles.

Window%u2019s Corp capitalized on this presence in the home by licensing the Xbox OS (a separate but similar OS to Windows) to makers of digital TV records (or, PVRs). By aggressively pushing this channel, Windows Corp has become the single largest player in the online movie rental business via it’s Windows Home Live service which runs on XBox OS.

Windows Corp also made real progress with it’s mobile phone operating system, the company’s consumer rather than business focus users led it to create a more stylish and usable user interface and well as driving innovation in touch screen technology. It now dominates the Smart Phone market while keeping a tight grip on the Windows Application Portal though which all apps must be downloaded.

Microsoft Application Software (MAS), meanwhile, has focused heavily on the business market with Office and Exchange being it’s main revenue streams from day one. Within a few years MAS had ported it’s Office Suite and Exchange server products to the Mac and Linux platforms to give them greater reach.

In 2005 MAS acquired Sun in order to given them a replacement for Microsoft’s short lived Java clone: .NET. Caught on the wrong side of the Windows/MAS divide, .NET was always envisaged as a way to sell more Windows and SQL Server licenses in the enterprise and didn’t really fit in a new more slimline consumer devices driven Windows Corp. The technology didn’t die completely though, it would later re-emerge as the heavily locked down development platform for the Windows Application Portal.

However, despite it’s acquisitions and platform porting, MAS has been in steady decline since the breakup. Attacked by the open source movement, cloud based services like Google and Zoho, and traditional competitors such as IBM, SAP and Oracle, MAS has never really regained the dominant position that it held when Microsoft was a single entity.


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