Re: Microsoft v Reality? - Computing: - Miss match
Well, although the internet was there it was the blossoming of the World Wide Web, a graphically driven environment as opposed to the glorified man pages it was up until the early nineties, that really started the explosion in the IT industry.
And that was fueled entirely by an explosion of new users using the easy-to-understand Windows 95 GUI and gleefully following Microsoft in the dance to make the WWW part of their lives by the simple expedient of showing it off as a way to add an upgrade path for software.
Microsoft seized the initiative in the browser wars too, and pushed the whole thing forward at a very much accelerated pace. In a very real sense the WWW came about because of Microsoft, not in spite of it.
As for "the time being right", well, many point to Unix having had X windows for two decades before MS hit the bricks, but in all that time what was done with it? It remained a way to open multiple consoles and little else.
No inexpensive computers running the hated MS operating systems means no IT industry pushing products, both good and bad, out for them. That industry puts a lot of food on a lot of tables in one way or another. No popular usage of the WWW means no iPad, for example. I honestly doubt that Apple would have created the infrastructure for such a thing on their own. Their focus was on the machine in your house.
The MS innovation I think probably having the most impact is the idea that ordinary people needed affordable computers for doing stuff other than computer oriented jobs.
The next most innovative thing must be the context sensitive menus that bloomed all over Windows 95, enabling the user to self-educate because it had a "I know what I want to do, I just don't know how to do it yet" approach. The wisdom of the day was that if you didn't understand how the OS worked you had no business owning a computer - a laughable premise. And before you start in on me about Apple, I've had my hands on the Rolls Royce of contemporary Apple kit and can tell the world it was about as user friendly as Tax Instructions - three separate help libraries that had no cross integration.
Next up was the idea of plug and play. No longer did you need to be an expert in computer innards to install an external peripheral or internal expansion card. It took a few tries to get it working seamlessly, but WIn 95 and Lexmark managed a seamless, painless printer install experience for me in mid '96, the days when Apple were putting out ads suggesting a printer install on a PC involved dismantling the machine. Ask your Apple user of the day if they could install and configure an extra SCSI card for a comparable experience.
Next up would be the suite of products that eventually coalesced into Visual Studio (and then got nerfed but that is the Way Of Things) and which was so successful as a RAD tool the world plus dog was trying to emulate it in their own tools (Cafe, enyone?) or get in on the action by providing third party plug-ins for VS.
And I can make a very strong argument that MS created the very atmosphere that ushered in the usable Linux desktop, the Shangri-La goal of the OS community, by exploding the potential market for such a thing.
I could go on, but there's no point, really. You come across to me as one of that community who hate Microsoft and cannot see round the red haze that envelopes them at the mention of the name. That's your right.
It's true MS play dirty pool at times, but they learned to do that early on with the experience they had launching Word against Wordperfect, the WP market leader of the day. If you grant them nothing else you have to give them kudos as fast learners.
The fact is that for all Microsoft's products being of questionable quality from a technical standpoint, from a user experience one they set the bar for most of the late part of the 90s and the early oughties. To chant that people only like their stuff because they are stupid is to tread water and achieve nothing, progress-wise, in the fight to wrest the IT world away from them in the new millennium (something I heartily support in principle).
This takes me back to the days I was working for a bleeding edge MS partner on the Beltway. We had two departments: Apps and R&D. The R&D people were enraged that the apps group used Visual Basic to craft front end interfaces to our (mainframe hosted) product instead of Visual C. They used the latter for purist reasons.
Apps used VB because they could make easy to understand and use front ends in sparrow's fart time, impressing the bejayzuz out of our customers and freeing up essential time to discover what they'd forgotten to tell us vis-à-vis requirements. Saved us person days of false starts and freed up scarce technician resources for the real work, but the R&D people hated VB on principle and couldn't wind their heads around the idea that it was a profit game.