Imagine the complexities, not to mention the complexes, attendant to being the world’s largest software manufacturer when your principal original idea so far has been a cheaper price than Apple?
Microsoft may well qualify as the American company to achieve the most success without introducing to the needy world at least one original idea, unless, of course, a low-down price can be construed as such a welcome contribution.
Let’s look at the spotty history of, not innovation, but imitation.
Remember when the Mac had point and click, drop-down menus, and the capacity to keep more than one program open at a time but eddying Microsoft didn’t?
Yet, ever resourceful but never innovative, Microsoft managed to imitate the features in ways that kept Gates and company in front of bars and, voila!, the world had Windows and then Office.
And what about search? Google virtually invented it. Yahoo got into the game by acquiring Overture. Finally, we have Microsoft trundling in with vows to chase Google and Yahoo in the lucrative venue.
As if that recent news weren’t embarrassing enough, now Microsoft has announced it’s about to chase down the iPod with its own Billy-come-lately hand-held music and video player.
And tune into the amazing innovation it brings to the fingertips. Microsoft's player will have at least one feature the iPod doesn’t: wireless Internet capability. So those who express a preference for the device at the cash register will be able to download music without being connected to a PC.
Tres strange, is it not, that Microsoft longed so for any advantage it would present us with a feature that encourages users away from the PC, which is, thanks to various fortuitous stumblings and cheapenings, its home turf.
But let’s not be unfairly critical and admit that the wondrous innovation will also feature a more advanced video screen.
In fact, let’s be proactively fair, as we always strive to be, and mention that Apple is not above imitation, either. For instance, after years of counterproductive soul searching, Jobs and crew finally figured out they could sell a lot more computers if theirs were compatible with the software that controls 90% of the world’s desktops. So in went Intel.
The only outfit that seems bent on sending the creative flame burning across the page in an uncompromising way is Goggle. But let’s not let its inventive duo of founders wiggle off the hook without a bit of a dunk in the wide waters of imitation. As we’ve all learned, one of Google The Great’s lastest forefronts is offering programs via the Internet that manage the same tasks the software does that Microsoft sells on a disk. How stunning is that innovation?
But taking Apple, Google, and Yahoo to task amounts to relative quibbles.
The seemingly hopeless wait is for the advent of at least one revelatory idea from Microsoft. Considering the host of accomplished techies they have in their employ, the most extraordinary astonishment is that we’re still experiencing only flagging anticipation.
Tom Attea, humorist and creator of NewsLaugh.com, has had six shows produced Off-Broadway and has written comedy for TV. Critics have called his writing “"delightfully funny" and “witty" with “good, genuine laughs. "