Has Microsoft become IBM of the late 80s?

My essay on whether the Microsoft of today has become the IBM of the late ’80s was just published in ACM Ubiquity.
Unfortunately, Ubiquity used an early version of the essay, and there is at least one factual error: The spray-painting IBM employees were not arrested, they just got in trouble with the SF Dept. of public works. There are some misses in language, and the references didn’t make it – so I will include them here:

  • “Gates flawlessly executed…” see the excellent reportage by Stratford P. Sherman (1984). “Microsoft’s drive to dominate software.” Fortune (January 23): 82-90, an article I give to my students to explain to them why strategy matters.
  • Accidental Empires: Full reference is Cringely, R. X. (1992). Accidental
    Empires: How the boys of Silicon Valley make their millions, battle
    foreign competition, and still can’t get a date
    . Harmonsworth, Middlesex, England, Penguin Books. The title alone is worth it…..
  • …manager from outside… IBM’s new CEO was Lou Gerstner, and his book Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? Inside IBM’s Historic Turnaround. New York, HarperBusiness (2002) is actually rather readable, at least for people with IBM experience – something which you cannot say for most CEO autobiographies.
  • The story of IBM people getting in trouble in San Francisco can be found at www.cnn.com.
  • Neal Stephenson’s excellent extended essay In the Beginning….Was the Command Line is available as a book, but also free of charge at his Cryptonomicon website.
  • As for the content – I think Microsoft is beginning to turn – their dividend payouts and Windows update policies are signs of maturity. But is it a real change of character?

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