Has Microsoft ever actually done anything original?
A bit of a rhetorical question, but I'm curious what people's views are. John Siracusa made some fantastic points on his podcast at 5by5: http://5by5.tv/hypercritical/44
To summarize, John suggests that Microsoft continues to follow the competition rather then doing something on their own. Examples of this (some my own, most were John's):
- Original Windows GUI was based on Xerox and Apple
- Word was originally created for the Macintosh at the insistence of Steve Jobs
- The office sweet products for Windows was created in response to Lotus and WordPerfect
- MSN was built to compete with AOL
- Zune was built to compete with the success of the iPod
- The original Windows Phones were created to compete with Palm
- IE started out by copying Netscape and went on to copy other browser features (like tabs)
- xbox was built to compete with ps3
- Bing ... Google....
- Windows NT (Which later became the platform for Windows 2000 and beyond) was originally developed with the cooperation of IBM as OS/2
- MS-DOS was actually purchased!
You get the idea. It seems to me the most innovative product Microsoft has come up with has been Windows 95, which was no doubt a game changer and a unique platform as compared to Macintosh from an interface point of view. Beyond that, Microsoft has largely made moves to compete with potential competition. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, innovation is only building small blocks on previous accomplishments, but all Microsoft seems to do is build minor changes to existing platforms.
There's no doubt that the market gave Microsoft some slack because it was the preferred software vendor of corporations and hardware manufacturers, but has Microsoft actually ever done something for themselves? Most innovations seem to be their attempt to copy the competition, and while they do so with some attempt at uniqueness, it isn't a game changer.