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STAMFORD (Rixstep) -- Squeezed in between cotton and rubber - as of 2008 the Microsoft brand ranks way down the list from its pole position in 1996. They're #59 right after Fruit of the Loom and right before Michelin. At least in the US.

IBM are the only IT company in the listing at #18. Apple don't rank at all.

And this according to CoreBrand who conducted 12,000 interviews with decision makers from the top 20% of US corporations.

Although the brands discussed could be 'international' it's more likely US based executives would more readily recognise local brands.

Those Were the Days

Back in 1996 Microsoft were #1. Cutler's NT with its ODBC had cut into Sun's market, Windows 94 was finally out, and academia and research began their short fling with Microsoft.

By the year 2000 the fling was over and Microsoft were to get hit by the first of an endless stream of major exploits. Despite this - and despite their products never really 'making it' from a security POV - Microsoft could still hold #12 in 2004. But that's four years ago.

The Decline

Despite the devastation of the Love Bug and despite it being eminently clear this devastation was due to one software supplier and a single one of their products things moved very slowly. Big boats don't turn swiftly in the night - corporations are locked into IT solutions they need time to adjust.

Several followup worms appeared in the autumn of 2000 - and at least one of them was introduced specifically to get people to 'smell the coffee'. And some did but it was all too few.

Still the same Microsoft software gradually acquired a reputation for jeopardising user safety. Microsoft's web server IIS was attacked time and again - and has had zero day exploits no one's ever been able to solve. Apache won a majority share of the server market; Bill Gates apologised to the world for the misery and suffering his software had caused; and so forth.

And in the meantime Unix™ enjoyed a comeback.

Apple, IBM, Sun, Red Hat, Linux, Novell, SuSE: none of these companies were able to make much of a mark on the desktop but almost all of them won significant shares of the server market. Companies today rely more and more on open source products to protect their networks.

Chick Magnets

Apple came out of nowhere to acquire NeXT Software, flirt with the open source movement, dangle visions of a new cross platform API that ran on Windows - and above all put good design to use to create products that were immediately appealing to besieged Windows home users.

Apple hardware not only looked better - it was also safer. Running Power processors nary a hacker had ever learned to code and running a close relative of FreeBSD with assistance from FreeBSD's cofounder and sporting a space age desktop for that all important 'showroom appeal' Apple were suddenly attracting more awake users everywhere.

Being able to run open source software meant academia and science who had kissed and made up with Unix™ could run their projects on hardware a lot fancier than your typical Wintel junk. Where once a 'Mac' got a raised eyebrow it suddenly got grins and smiles.

The introduction of the iPod only increased market awareness of the Apple brand.

Welcome to the Moon

Meanwhile Linus Torvalds made it to the moon. Not personally - but his operating system did. Linux on the server became not only the standard but the 'smart thing'.

All the while Microsoft products continued to get hit with all sorts of malware no other platform could be victimised by. The cottage industries profiting by and supporting Microsoft's products did their best to keep a lid on things but gradually people began to figure things out on their own. And that includes corporate decision makers - the kind who responded to CoreBrand's survey.

Red Hat - those stalwarts who refused to be intimidated by Ballmer's chair throwing tactics - have continued to experience growth and primarily in the corporate sector. IBM continue to do the same.

SOTI 2008

Things are bleak on the Internet in 2008. IT crime is rampant. A paltry few expertly run botnets control millions of Windows computers and spew out almost all of the spam. And spam today is the harbinger of other things a hundred times worse. And this is all down to Microsoft software. And over the years the Microsoft apologists have attempted to cloud this fact - but to no avail. People everywhere - kitchen table users and corporate decision makers both - seem to be catching on.

Yet it's a wonder things have taken this long.

Flying Chairs

And of course there's the 'brain drain' away from Microsoft and to Google. Today Google are the 'cool' company to work for; and Google are changing the topology of computing, moving more and more solutions to the Internet and away from the local computer. Compaq demonstrated years ago that for ordinary purposes the operating system wasn't really necessary; Microsoft all along have done all in their power to lock computer use into an operating system - their operating system.

And today there are free and unfettered alternatives to Microsoft products for the local computer as well.

People are increasingly sick and tired of the myopic Microsoft way of doing things; the twisted distorted Microsoft view of Internet technology; the endless quirks in everyday use Microsoft products are responsible for; and the classic legendary 'third rate quality'. Bill Gates never tried to be best - he only tried to make the most money.

Things sometimes have a way of sorting themselves out all on their own.

See Also
Red Hat Diaries: Suicide Fanboys
New York Times: No Recession at Red Hat
New York Times: Red Hat Q4/Year 2008 Results
IDG News: Study Sees Microsoft Brand in Sharp Decline

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