Microsoft on Slippery Slope?

28 August 2002

How are the mighty fallen? Well, like they tell it in Gath and publish it in the streets of Askelon, the slippery slope may be underfoot at Microsoft, the hitherto impregnable giant that dominates the world’s PC software market.

The law of averages suggests it is not mere coincidence that Microsoft received the heave-ho from the globe's largest hardware titans twice within the space of one week.

Number two PC-maker Dell Computer last week announced it would stop shipping product preloaded with Microsoft productivity software. And on Monday the planet’s largest personal computer company Hewlett-Packard, which last year merged with Compaq, made it known that it too had hit the Ctrl+Alt+ Del keys on Microsoft.

Both manufacturers have instead opted for WordPerfect productivity software from Corel of Canada, ousting Microsoft’s Works suite – a cut-down version of Office. Their decision may prompt others to follow suit – but even if this is not the case, the pullout by Dell and H-P will substantially erode Microsoft’s 90%-plus stranglehold on the office productivity software market – currently earning it $9.6 billion (€9.83bn; £6.29bn) annually, or 34% of its total PC software revenues.

At antitrust hearings in Washington earlier this year, PC makers complained that Microsoft had been abusing its monopoly in operating systems and productivity tools. They were particularly unhappy at the manner in which Gates’ Goliath licensed its products to PC-makers, alleging that some were favoured with specially beneficial terms.

No-one at Microsoft or H-P was available for comment, although it is rumoured that an agonized jeremiad rends the otherwise tranquil air of Seattle.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff