Does Microsoft Have any Real Competition? Copyright (c) 2003 Gregory S. Diehl In a word, yes.
And I think they are about to get more.
Microsoft primarily dominates in operating systems and office productivity software.
Windows is going to be the dominant OS for some time. But I think things will get much more interesting with the Novell/SuSE merger. The giant IBM was already behind Linux. (People forget that if IBM’s software division were a separate company, it would be number two only to Microsoft.) Now, they face the challenge from a company that knows how to market to the enterprise, which Red Hat does not. SuSE gets the channels and business partners it needs worldwide; Novell can assure its survival beyond NetWare as a competitor to the hated Microsoft. (Novell feels about as strongly about the folks from the Northwest as Sun does.)
And speaking of Sun, they are aggressively pushing StarOffice as an alternative to Microsoft Office. It offers file compatibility, so anyone on a budget may want to at least consider it. Corel is also hanging in there with WordPerfect and other products, and Novell has GroupWise. So there is at least a little competition in office productivity, although admittedly not much. StarOffice is now available in the retail channel, so that may change.
With Sun and IBM pushing Java/J2EE as the platform for Web services, .NET is getting all the competition it can handle. For dynamic Web publishing (updating from a database) I seem to see at least as many pages with .jsp (Java Server Pages) or .php (Hypertext Preprocessor) as I do .asp (Active Server Pages, from Microsoft) on the file name. (If you’ve ever wondered what those strange things were that were not .htm or .html, that’s it!)
There are two areas where Microsoft is not even close to first place.
Most Web servers are Apache running under Linux, not Microsoft’s Internet Information Server on a Windows box.
In the database arena, Microsoft really faces stiff competition. IBM is still number one with DB2, and Oracle is close behind. While SQL Server 2000 is much more robust and enterprise-ready than its predecessors, it is still in third place. (Albeit a tighter third place with the scalability and other features of SQL Server 2000.) On the charts with a bullet is MySQL, the Linux of the database world that is gaining more market share in enterprises not needing the features of a DB2 or Oracle.
So, does Microsoft have competition? Yes, even in areas of near-monopoly, there is at least some competition.
Gregory S. Diehl has almost 35 years experience in applying technology to solve business problems and expand opportunities. He has worked as a systems analyst, programmer, technical writer, Web developer and numerous other roles. A Master CIW Designer, he is currently starting a Web design and development firm in Las Vegas.