It's been a bad two weeks, really, for Redmond...

One day, we may look back on Sept. 17 as the official beginning of the end for Microsoft's dominance. Two separate events signaled the shift; one was the European Union court's harsh ruling against Microsoft itself, charging that the world's No. 1 software maker had abused its monopoly power to harm competitors. The verdict was expected -- and showed that European bureaucrats had more courage than the U.S. Justice Department.

The other important announcement was IBM's offering of Lotus Symphony, a suite of office applications, for free. This is just the latest bullet to the head of Microsoft's cash cow. ...

It is clear now that Microsoft has become the legacy company of the 21st century, playing the kind of defensive role that IBM played when the upstart from Redmond outwitted the incumbent in Armonk and walked away with the best parts of OS/2.
Link: Red Herring: Microsoft Endgame > (Thanks, Karen)

Update: Ten comments in, I can't resist updating this posting, now that I've seen so many other articles this week have a similar theme.  To wit:

Motley Fool, They're Coming to Get You, Mr. Softy:
Microsoft may very well find itself as the underdog as it suits up against the search-engine giants. How can this  not  eat into Microsoft's pricing flexibility? How can it  not make Microsoft vulnerable, for a change?

They're coming to get you, Mr. Softy. Be ready.
BusinessWeek: Microsoft and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good , Very Bad Week:
While the combined market share of the alternatives is minuscule today, they are a long term strategic threat to Microsoft. The Office business has long accounted for about half of the company's profits, and while the cash cow will go on producing, it is increasingly difficult to see where any growth is going to come from.
International Herald-Tribune: The End User: Tough week for Microsoft vs. competition:
Losing its appeal of the European antitrust ruling on Monday was just the first piece of bad news for Microsoft this week. On Tuesday, IBM put a selection of office-suite programs up on the Web for free. ...

Free office-software suites meant to cut in on Microsoft's dominance have been around for almost a decade. But Tuesday's move means three big brand names - IBM, Google and Sun Microsystems - are allied against the Redmond behemoth in this area. Microsoft Office may be entrenched today, but together, IBM, Google and Sun can do a lot of damage - at least as much as the European Commission can.
Michael Miller, writing in PC Magazine: IBM Takes on Office; So Does Everyone Else:
Both IBM Software Group Senior VP Steve Mills and IBM Lotus Software General Manager Mike Rhodin were quite clear that the goal is to promote use of the Open Document Format (ODF). Mills suggested that moving document standards to a single open standard is as important for the applications of tomorrow as moving the communications standard from IBM's proprietary SNA to TCP/IP was in the development of the Internet.

Indeed, Mills was very clear is staying that Microsoft delivers the "most sophisticated, most complete set of features." But he said not everyone needs those features, and expects different users will want to use different tools, which works as long as documents can be easily exchanged.
InfoWorld: IBM expands Microsoft collaboration war to office market:
n Notes 8, IBM also included office productivity applications based on OpenOffice.org, strategically calling the products "editors" rather than productivity apps to imply that they don't have to be part of an entire separate suite, said Erica Driver, analyst with Forrester Research.

"IBM is saying, 'it's not a big deal,'" and that you don't need an entirely separate suite for word processing, spreadsheets, and the like, she said. "They want people to think of these applications as buttons in Lotus Notes. It's a smart move because it commoditizes the basic capabilities [of Office] and forces Microsoft to add value."  ...

Irwin Horowitz, systems specialist for chemical company BASF Group, agreed that a product like Symphony could be a replacement for Office for some users, but it will be a hard sell as a rip-and-replace scenario for companies that have a long history of using Office.

But even if that's the case, at least Symphony does give IT decision-makers "leverage" with Microsoft to try to pay less for Office licenses. "I can say, 'I don't like the deal you're giving me, Microsoft, and I'm looking at someone else's technology," Horowitz said.

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