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Defending Microsoft – It’s getting harder

Alex Christie

13 October 2008

Running a technology department comprised of Microsoft .Net developers, Open Source PERL coders and Mac using Graphic Designers was never going to be easy. 

Not a day seems to go by where the merits of MAC vs PC,  .Net vs PERL or IE vs Firefox vs Chrome are not discussed.  And whilst I always try to remain fairly impartial (as much as someone with 11 years MS development experience and who has never owned a Mac can be), I find myself getting more and more frustrated trying to defend Microsoft.

My primary issue with Microsoft at the moment is Internet Explorer, not the technology but just the way I am forced to use it. 

One of my first actions upon joining Tamar was to register the company in the Microsoft Partner Program.  This program is designed to provide ongoing support and training for organisations that develop software using Microsoft technologies.  But here is the catch, I can only access the member section of the site if I use Internet Explorer.  Trying to use Firefox or Chrome results in a ‘Browser Warning’ page.

What frustrates me most about this is there is no logical reason why this limitation should exist except for the fact that someone at Microsoft has made a decision to force me to use a particular technology. 

This is not the only example of Microsoft trying to force IE on end users.  Microsoft recently announced a new rewards scheme ‘Searchperks!’ for people using it’s Live Search.  Users gain virtual tickets (up to  a maximum of 25 per day) for every search they perform which can then be exchanged for rewards such as an Xbox or Airmiles.  Once again there is a catch, in this case you have to have a Windows Live ID and be using IE.  Once again I can see no technical reason why Microsoft needs to limit access to this promotion to people running Internet Explorer. 

Whilst Microsoft’s entire business model to date has been built off cross-promoting products, it is this approach that got it slapped with a huge EU AntiTrust fine.  There is a reason that Firefox has attracted such a large share of the market, and it is not because people hate Microsoft.  It is because it provides an exceptional browsing experience. 

If Microsoft wants IE to regain some of it’s lost market share then they should focus their energy on innovating and improving IE instead of trying to find roundabout ways of forcing loyal customers into using particular technologies.

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