Every once in a while, John Dvorak hits one out of the park when he posts a rant that actually gets me thinking seriously. In his latest jab at Microsoft, he declares that the best thing the company could do would be to drop Internet explorer like a hot tuber.
My immediate reaction was, "There he goes again...". But as I continued reading his article at PC Magazine, I found myself considering, if not necessarily agreeing with, the logic behind his argument. Dvorak makes the point that no one will stop buying Windows if IE isn't included. Microsoft, he writes, could save itself huge headaches and eliminate one of the most serious distractions to productivity facing the company if they would get out of the browser game and devote those resources to getting Vista out the door.
"We still have computers, we still need operating systems, and we still need Microsoft Office. Yes, there are alternatives to everything, but the gold standards for all these basics make most of the money, no matter what anyone idealizes to the contrary.
But Microsoft buys the fear. It must have some of the lowest corporate self-esteem for any dominant company in the history of modern business. The company is like the panicky old woman wondering how she lost a penny in her purse while giving exact change in the express line at the grocery store. Hey lady, you are holding things up!"
Colorful metaphor aside, there are some compelling possibilities raised in Dvorak's scenario. What would a world where Windows shipped with Firefox and/or Opera as the web browser look like? Would we see less malware and risk to unsuspecting PC users? Or would the vector for badware simply change and target those browsers? It makes for good idle speculation at the very least.