Microsoft continually updates things by changing the interface or adding new, mostly working, functionality but hardly ever by fixing the brokenness of existing functionality. They might enhance functions but they seldom fix the primary brokenness. I grow weary of Microsoft’s continual upgrades that are suppose to make their software better — unfortunately they only have their shareholders in mind and not their customers. Each features links you more tightly and in proprietary ways with other Microsoft products. They should at least improve basic functionality of existing features and expand the interoperability with other products, both Microsoft and non-Microsoft.
This is the same lesson that IBM had to learn in the 90’s — Their proprietary, non-interoperable tendencies led to a sound thrashing by the market. I keep wondering why the market has allowed Microsoft to continue this bad behavior. Yes, the market has allowed this to happen. So everytime you decline to investigate non-Microsoft products out of hand, you are contributing to the problem.
Now it is important to not dismiss Microsoft products out of hand too. Doing so is just bad business sense. But it is time that the market stop following the Jones’ and do their own homework when it comes to software acquisition. You need to evaluate not only features(+), security(+) and vendor strength(+) but vendor lock-in(-). Vendor lock-in exposes you to increased future prices. The longer you allow yourself to be ensnared the higher the cost of escape. Not allowing for vendor lock-in in your analysis is actually exposing your company to increasing risk.
Microsoft needs to be forced to compete via the strength of their product and their ability to free businesses to use them in new and unexpected ways and not by using a death embrace of intra-product lock-in. Every time Microsoft uses a closed, proprietary file format or communication protocol they are displaying their “not getting it.” When Microsoft starts publishing formats and protocols, allowing them to be used freely and openly, then that is when Microsoft will start to “get it.” When Microsoft starts adopting open specifications with out attempting to subvert them (think OASIS) then they will have “gotten it.”