This is not to say it will be the end for Microsoft, but the way I read the the technology tea leaves here is that Microsoft will find itself slowly marginalized, similarly to IBM which during the “Big Blue” era was the only name in computing.
Microsoft has been continually outperformed by the Social/technological GNU/GPL movement which was a development that was unforeseen, yet in hindsight looks to be the next logical step in the evolution of software design. See more here about GNU and CopyLeft.
John Naughton writing for The Observer has this to say:
Why Vista will mean the end of the Microsoft monolith
The Vista saga has two interesting lessons for the computer business.
It raises, for example, the question of whether this way of producing software products of this complexity has reached its natural limit.
Microsoft is an extremely rich, resourceful company – and yet the task of creating and shipping Vista stretched it to breaking point.
A lesser company would have buckled under the strain. And yet while Microsoft engineers were trudging through their death march, the open source community shipped a series of major upgrades to the Linux operating system.
How can hackers, scattered across the globe, working for no pay, linked only by the net and shared values, apparently outperform the smartest software company on the planet?
Microsofties retort that Vista is much more complex than Linux. But it’s not the whole story. It could be that purely networked enterprises like the Linux project are actually a better way of producing very complex products, much as Toyota’s ‘lean’ production system is the best way of making cars.
October 3rd Declared “Day Against DRM”