Friday, November 14, 2003
Microsoft's Peculiar Profit Obsession, .NET, and What It All Really Means
But DRM also gives Microsoft added power in the computer and electronics industries, especially with the code portability Andy mentioned. Remember, IL ultimately makes .NET and Windows hardware independent, decreasing Microsoft's dependence on Intel and increasing its power over Intel -- the power to give and to take away. There are instances where Microsoft might want to move away from Intel. Redmond has not done a very good job of putting its software on large-scale servers, for example, largely because its hardware partner doesn't scale well. We're seeing Intel-based servers now with up to eight CPUs, but that's about it: Above eight the increased overhead means it isn't worthwhile, so we do clustering, instead. But now Microsoft is flirting with IBM precisely because IBM's Power architecture scales beautifully. If Microsoft wants to grab one of the last pools of profit it doesn't currently own -- high end corporate computing -- putting .NET on IBM's Power and PowerPC are a key.
It works at the bottom of the market, too, where IL's portability means Microsoft can drop old platforms and move to new ones primarily on the basis of compliant partner behavior. Imagine a game machine or a set-top box that didn't embrace Microsoft's DRM scheme. Well, it would be perfectly in keeping with Microsoft behavior to just drop those hardware platforms in favor of others that were more cooperative. Either buy Redmond's DRM technology (ultimately giving Microsoft the transaction business, remember) or Microsoft might ignore your platform into oblivion.
But what happens when Microsoft has all the computers, all the video games, all the set-top boxes, all the PDAs, all the mobile phones, when it has conquered the transaction business and holds all the money? That leaves only one more industry I can think of for Microsoft to enter that is profitable enough -- pharmaceuticals. Would you buy drugs from Bill Gates?
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