The Lite Side

Microsoft to Drop Windows Support, Refocus on Core Markets

- 2005.12.20

Microsoft has announced that will officially drop support for Windows in 2009, a company spokesperson has said.

"Customers using Windows should move to a more modern operating system, such as Linux or the Mac OS, as we are going to stop shipping Windows in 2007 and stop all support for all versions of Windows in 2009," said Steve Ballmer of Microsoft.

The reason for the move, long anticipated by industry analysts* has to do with the mounting costs of supporting all of the myriad patches and updates to keep Windows operating.

"It was getting to the point we were spending three times what it cost to launch a version of Windows just to keep the OS running for a couple of months," said Ballmer. "At some point you have to stop the bleeding and return to your core business."

Microsoft's core business is, of course, centered on the sale of the ubiquitous Office suite of products. Ironically, with the discontinuation of Windows, Microsoft will need to retool its flagship product for Linux and for the Mac OS.

The MacOS version, which has been in existence for some time but never advertised in a non-Mac setting, will be a surprise to most Microsoft customers.

"The average person doesn't know Mac Office 2004 exists because we didn't use to provide discounts for it and didn't insist that it be stocked in stores offering Windows software. We even had a guy in the Windows shop that used to go around spreading the myth that Mac Office didn't even exist," said one executive who wished to remain nameless. "That guy drove the Mac business unit crazy."

Linux users have asked for a Linux version of Office for years. Since those requests have traditionally fallen on deaf ears, they have relied on open-source Office-compatible software such as OpenOffice to get work done.

Now that Microsoft is planning to offer an Office "distro" which will run on the eighty-three different incarnations of Linux, Linux users are somewhat nonplused about it.

Linus Torvalds, the Godfather of Linux, even accused Microsoft of attempting to pre-empt the nine-hundred and thirty-seven different GUI schema currently under development for various flavors of Unix (including Linux) and branded them "interface Nazis" who will stifle innovation in the Linux workspace.

Torvalds advises all Linux users to avoid using any Microsoft products whatsoever.

Since this is the ninth industry Torvalds has labeled "Nazis", not many people are worried about the effect of his opinion in this matter. Especially not Bill Gates, who sees the new direction Windows is taking as fundamental to his vision for the 30-year old company.

"We are really getting at the core of our business now," Gates said to a packed audience of journalists enjoying the colorful brochures he printed using a beta version of Linux Office, regaling his largesse in redistributing wealth to those who would have preferred to donate to directly instead of vicariously through his profit-generating schemes.

"Soon, we'll refocus our attention on our core business of launching Google-targeted competitive products and premature video game consoles."

Since Google does not have an operating system, Gates sees no need for Microsoft to have one, as that would make its "Googleganger" strategy noncompetitive. "We can't beat Google at a game they're not playing," he said.

The effect on the average user is expected to be minimal, because the vast majority of users have no idea what an operating system is. And that suits Gate's perennial nemesis, Steve Jobs, just fine.

"We want to make products so good you don't even know you're using them," said Jobs in a recent drive-by window. "So good, you just expect everything to smoothly flow together with no realization that every time you click on something, on a computer, somewhere, it will always require you to authorize payment through the iTunes music store.

"We just have a vision of making our profit-generating business plan 'just work'. No bells or whistles or unnecessary middlemen in the way. If we can get users to purchase Office through the Apple iTMS, then we'll get a little cut of that. If you get your latest distro update from iTMS, we'll take a small finder's fee. If you want to order that sandwich with extra mayo, we're there for you.

"Eventually we want you to access your eBay account and order books from Amazon.com via the interface we've established for iTMS. We call this idea a 'portal'. This is the greatest thing Apple has ever invented, and once again shows our innovation and leadership in the industry."

Where a Windows-less world will take us is anyone's guess. Perhaps the new motto for Microsoft, paid for with free coupons from End User License Agreements (no cash value) best sums up what will happen: "Wherever you want to go, your competition can't see you coming without Windows."

* Well, just one analyst. That would be me. You have to have full disclosure on these things or the press will rip you to shreds these days.

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