Microsoft History

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Community member Scott emailed me recently to ask for my help with a documentary he is creating about Microsoft. He knows that I’ve been using Microsoft since the days of DOS, and wanted to get my thoughts on a few questions he had. Not only did I agree to answer them in this video… I want YOUR opinions, as well. Go ahead and leave a follow-up comment with your answers to the questions that Scott asked. It will be interesting to see what everyone thinks, and how our opinions on the matters vary.

  • How do you think that Microsoft changed the way that computing was made simpler for the average user? – Back in the day, it wasn’t easy to use a computer. It was very confusing, actually. If you knew something was DOS or Windows compatible, it was a load off your mind. You knew it would work on your system. Despite any type of business practices that I may not agree with, I have to give props to Microsoft for uniting the industry. If you bought a PC, you knew it would be compatible, and there would be a ton of software available wherever you went. It was also a great opportunity for developers. If Microsoft hadn’t taken the lead in that capacity, someone else would have.
  • How did Microsoft make it possible for most people to own a computer and be able to use it without advanced knowledge? – DoS wasn’t easy, and neither were the old Apple systems. Microsoft has never actually created a computer. They created an operating system, that could run on any computer. I always laugh when people compare Microsoft to Apple in that respect. They are nothing alike! Apple would be more comparable to a company such as Dell or HP. There may be Microsoft-branded hardware, but there has never been a Microsoft computer. Therefore, you cannot fairly compare Microsoft to Apple! You can compare their respective operating systems, yes. Microsoft was the first to make an operating system be user-friendly. Most of them are these days, but that wasn’t always the case. Microsoft, back in the day, made it possible for any average Joe (pun intended, Dad!) to sit down and be able to use a computer in their home without any training.
  • Going through the history of operating systems, what has improved from DOS to Windows 7 that impacted society today? – You really can’t get along without a computer these days, whether it’s in your pocket or a desktop. To think that you could get a job these days without knowing how to use something like Word or Excel is laughable to me. By making a home computer more affordable, Microsoft opened up the opportunities for developers and regular users alike. If it weren’t for Microsoft, we’d likely be a lot further behind than what we are these days.

I think that the Internet itself has done more to impact our society than even Microsoft. The Internet snuck up on Microsoft and surprised them. Back in the day when Windows 95 shipped, it didn’t ship with a web browser. You had to upgrade to a plus pack, or buy Netscape off the shelf. It was crazy!

Overall, Microsoft has become less invasive and more pervasive. When you buy a computer today, you know it’s going to work. You know it’s going to allow you to do the things that you want and need to do. The computer is not an appliance these days, it’s an appliance. It’s inclusive in terms of its place inside our lives, giving us the ability to do things that we’d never have been able to do otherwise.

Thanks, Scott, for the questions and for making me sit and really think about some of these things.

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