Sunday, July 15, 2007

Does Microsoft really no longer matter as a technology company?

It wasn't that many years ago when Microsoft was considered one of the top technology companies. Now, not only has Microsoft been eclipsed by Google as far as media attention, but it has gotten to the point where Microsoft tends to not even get mentioned in passing other than to disparage their "attempts" to compete with Google. I write this after reading an article in The New York Times by Conrad De Aenlle entitled "A Peek at Tech's Strength" which focuses on "two pairs of high-profile tech companies announce second-quarter earnings." Yes, Intel, AMD, Google, and Yahoo are indeed important technology companies that are reporting earnings this coming week, but it seems rather mind-boggling that one could consider Intel "high-profile" and not even give a passing reference to Microsoft reporting earnings this coming week as well (Thursday afternoon.) How did we get to this sorry state of affairs?

Granted, Microsoft's performance over the past few years has been somewhat "uneven", but the company is still quite a powerhouse in terms of raw revenue and earnings and delivery of new products and services, and Windows-based personal computers continue to deliver vast legions of "eyeballs" that drive all of those "hot" Web 2.0 sites, including blogs, social networking, and search engines.

Personally, I do think that there is a certain amount of anti-Microsoft bias in the media. I'm not prepared to speculate at length why that is, but simply note that it is there and is a real problem when trying to get a clear picture of the technology sector from the media.

For the media to act as if Microsoft hardly even existed anymore is rather bizarre. I can't imagine any better explanation other than that the media has some deep bias. The media has an obligation to its readers and viewers to at least make an attempt to be "fair", "unbiased", and "objective", and to paint a complete, full, and honest picture of the technology sector, but for whatever reasons, those criteria don't seem to apply anymore to media coverage of Microsoft.

The referenced story is not the first time I have seen evidence of such a bias, only the latest.

I am only speaking "in general"; certainly I have seen any number of stories mentioning Microsoft that were reasonably fair, unbiased, and objective, but the problem is that in the past couple of years the apparent ratio of biased to unbiased coverage has grown alarmingly high.

One excuse I've heard anecdotally is that a lot of journalists prefer "the Mac" and supposedly that is a big source of their disinterest if not bias in anything to do with Microsoft. That could be one factor and it could be a significant factor, but I personally do not know it for a fact. I only know the effect that I see in the media.

On the off chance that I am completely wrong and mistaken, does anybody have any evidence or rationale or even speculation for what reasons the media might have for considering Microsoft to be effectively no longer relevant to media coverage of the technology sector?

Disclosure: I am in fact an employee of The Evil Empire. I joined Microsoft in May 2006 in a software development test role, but my views aren't significantly different than before I joined when I was independent for about 20 years.

-- Jack Krupansky

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