Users Dont Want to Be Forced to Choose

The adage in the operating system market was always that Microsoft's installed base is the company's biggest benefit and its biggest detriment.

The adage in the operating system market was always that Microsofts installed base is the companys biggest benefit and its biggest detriment. The need to strike a balance between cool new features and compatibility with past applications is a choice on which hangs hundreds of millions in revenues and success or failure of operating system development.

Through clever marketing, technological development and, at times, using the baseball bat of monopoly power, Microsoft has been able to move successive generations of computer users along the companys product road map.

Now that Bill Gates has made security the companys first development priority, the selling points for a new operating system have changed. As this weeks front-page story illustrates, the cool-new-feature-upgrade story will take second place to a safer-operating-environment pitch. What does that mean for those of you who did not want to upgrade because you were happy with what you had or had finally stabilized the network? Should you have to choose between compatibility and safety? See this weeks exclusive to find out the real story behind Microsofts Trustworthy Computing initiative.

Sometimes, companies lead the technology developments, and sometimes, they are pulled along kicking and screaming. Id say right now the industry is in the kicking-and-screaming category. A good example is the storage business. While vendors were busy touting their approach to storage, be it network-attached storage or storage area networks, the two approaches were busy converging. Users want to be able to mix and match their storage options while being able to manage all that stored data from one management system. The vendor winners in this business will be those companies that lead customers away from the old proprietary approach and help take them into a heterogeneous storage architecture, rather than argue against it. See this weeks Cover Story by Evan Koblentz for a look at what the storage market will be like in a converged world.

While storage technologies are busy converging, a similar convergence is taking place in the corporate portal and knowledge management arenas. As Jim Rapoza details in "PortalKM Mix Gains Mind Share", the two technologies work well together.

And, of course, in the kicking-and-screaming category, the HP-Compaq (Hpaq?) saga does not seem to be quieting one week after the shareholders vote. We may not know who won the vote for weeks; employees are being told to act like competitors, despite the likely prospects of a combination; and HP dissenter Walter Hewlett is claiming, and HP is denying, a last-minute, back-room deal for votes. This weeks editorial calls on HP management to start moving forward through this quagmire. No easy task.

What are you willing to forgo for safety? Write me at