Microsoft sells software like its 1984

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My copy of Microsoft Disk Operating System, circa 1984

In the 1980’s IBM, convinced that there was only money in hardware, licensed the operating systems for desktop computers to Microsoft Corporation. The PC was born. Software was shipped as a  boxed set with disks and manuals. Want more software? Want newer software? You had to buy it for hundreds of dollars from a licensed distributor, either at a store or through a sales person. Buying  the software then opening the box locked you into an end-user-licensing-agreement contract. If you try the software and you find it inadequate, you do not have the source code so your IT department can not fix it. You may call the company who made the software for help but they are likely to charge you as much as a physic hotline. There are no refunds on the software itself or support bills. If you are a home customer, you are at the mercy of user or “hobbyist” clubs who may provide some help on a volunteer basis. These hobbyists might even have some free software which matches your needs even better than the boxed software you bought for a couple hundred dollars. You might be lucky enough to have a geek somewhere in your family or circle of friends but in the end it is all just a hassle.

Why can’t the software be brought to wherever the computer is? All sorts of applications should be available by type by search-able key words. It would be a store that free and for purchase software would be side by side. Large companies and small businesses should compete for your business in the true American entrepreneurial spirit. Software should be vetted publicly. Each software product would have customer reviews from early adopters (IT people, hobbyists, and geeks) so that you can choose only the best software for your computer. The software should be intuitive yet inexpensive. Payment for software should only a few dollars or less. All you should have to do is one click and the software should ready to run in a minute without any additional action on your behalf. Software by easy button.
The software store I describe is not science fiction. This is reality for Apple “App Store” for Ipad/Iphone, the “Ubuntu Software Center” for Canonical’s Linux-based desktop operating system, the Google “Android Market” for Android Linux-based phones, and Palm “PreWare” for WebOS Linux-based phones.

Ladies and Gentelmen, the platform-delivered software store is how distributed in the 21st century. Unfortunately for Microsoft, no such thing exists for Windows. 

Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer doesn’t get it.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs does: The PC is so over.

What will we use come June 30, 2011? Not boxed Microsoft software.

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