Daring Fireball on Microsoft’s crisis of confidence

Another good article by John Gruber: this time he compares Apple’s current situation with Microsoft’s ongoing crisis of confidence. A few months back I wrote a piece for PC Plus about Microsoft, and concluded that Microsoft’s biggest enemy wasn’t Apple, Google or Linux; Microsoft’s biggest enemy, I reckoned, was Microsoft itself. It seems Gruber is thinking along the same lines:

In the ’90s, to sell copies of Word, they needed to beat WordPerfect, and they did; to sell Excel, they needed to beat Lotus 1-2-3. Now, though, to sell new copies of Microsoft Office, they need to beat older copies of Microsoft Office. Hence the much-maligned ads in which Microsoft casts their own users as dinosaurs simply because they haven’t upgraded to the latest version of Office.

Most of the criticism of these ads revolves around the fact that it’s a bad idea to insult your own customers. But what I found interesting about them is the tacit acknowledgment that Microsoft’s strongest competitor in today’s office software market isn’t OpenOffice, or any other competing suite from another company, but rather the Microsoft of a decade ago.

The article also makes some good points about the new MacBooks, so it’s worth a read even if you’re a committed Microsoft-phobe.