On the most recent This Week in Google, Leo Laporte, in conversation with Gina Trapani and Jeff Jarvis (all 3 of whom I respect greatly) asserts that Microsoft cannot shut down their Internet Explorer 6 browser because businesses are too slow to adapt and the vast majority use Microsoft products. "It's the price of success," Leo asserts.
That's bullshit. It's Microsuck's monopolistic success that allows to announce that as of tonight, IE6 – hell let's throw in IE 7 too – are no longer supported, and will not receive updates. A free update to IE8 is at this URL. (Or better: go for a browser that supports standards: Safari, FireFox, or Chrome)
They can do that, even with most enterprise environments relying on them because they have every environment relying on them. Where else are their customers going to go!?
I was shocked to find that both Gini Tripani who is a huge supporter of open source and Jeff Jarvis who coined the term "do what you do best," let Leo get away with the statement. If Microsoft arbitrarily decided to do anything their customers would have no choice but to follow. That's what comes from being a monopoly.
James Surowieckis latest piece in The New Yorker, Soft in the Middle, addresses this point: produce high end or low end products, the middle road is too mushy. Case in point: It's better the be Apple than Dell and better to be H&M than Gap. The wide middle isn't desirable or profitable.
Microsoft, in its position of high, low, and middle of the market, should take a lesson from Apple. They should be opinionated, stop trying to please everyone, and make a few firm decisions that benefit us all – even if it's a bit painful in the short-term. After all, it's not like they have much of a reputation to defend.