Hell froze over: Microsoft moves Edge to Chromium

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[Disclosure: Microsoft is a client of the author.]

I’m reading a great book named The Darkest Eyes by Mick Brady. In it the female protagonist goes through a rift to enter an alternate reality to Atlantis and fight little green aliens. Pretty out there, I know…but yesterday when Microsoft told me they were moving to Chromium with Edge I thought I’d hit my head with the Crystal Skull from the story and either ended up in an alternative reality or had completely separated from reality (I’m pretty sure my wife would claim the latter). 

But what I, and likely you, don’t realize is that despite the national trends on the world stage, the tech market is now defined by companies that both license their technology and license technology to others, avoiding the plague of the failed lock-in strategies of the past. This allows them to focus on customer satisfaction as the goal rather than the more common efforts to trick customers out of their hard-earned cash for upgrades they don’t need or want (yes, the lack of a headphone jack is an upgrade).

This move is not only good for users, it showcases both a new Microsoft and a new, more successful tech industry approach to success for everyone.

Microsoft’s past lessons

If we to go back a decade, the Microsoft of that era run by my old friend Steve Ballmer would have done what they did with Zune. Once they realized Google was in the lead, they would have spent unbelievable amounts of money trying to break the Chrome browser that had become more popular, trying to damage Google, and trying to lock people onto their IE and Edge platforms.  They’d believe this would work because they believed it worked against IBM and Netscape…and they would have failed much like they did with Zune with the same strategy. [Disclosure: IBM is a client of the author.]

The reason is because their perception of why they won previously is ‘fake news.’ They beat IBM because IBM had to license OS/2 from Microsoft and didn’t understand that other computer firms wouldn’t buy a branded product from them (Token Ring failed for the same reason). And Microsoft knew more about OS/2’s weaknesses, since they basically wrote it, than IBM did.  Netscape lost because the firm was run by borderline insane people. They should have evolved into Yahoo, Google or Facebook—all of whom were closer to the firm’s core competencies. Instead, they were distracted by massive instant wealth, and focused on building a better Microsoft. This last still goes down in history as being one of the most colossally stupid things I’ve ever seen a company do—and this is on top of their decision to signal they planned to take the one product that made them money (the Netscape browser) and give it away for free. It was like watching adults run blindfold with poisoned scissors. 

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