Microsoft became a titan of global business in the 80s because it found a way to corner a market. As personal computing was taking off it was Microsoft that grabbed a dominant share by offering innovative products that were ahead of the competition.
The golden ticket continued into the 90s with the Windows series of operating systems and desktop applications becoming not just the most popular options but the accepted standard. And now into a third decade there are many computer users the world over that are probably unaware that there is an alternative to Windows, Word and Outlook.
Yes, Microsoft has been the archetypal business success story of finding an underserved market, developing the right product, securing a dominant share and then convincing the buyer that it is the market. Those who tried to compete were crushed under the Microsoft juggernaut as it continued along its path of irresistible force.
Until now that is! Microsoft’s mega truck is still going strong of course but now a small dent has appeared in its bodywork in the form of Encarta’s demise. The software giant has announced that Encarta will be taken offline in the autumn in the wake of the realisation that it cannot compete with internet source such as Wikipedia.
It is not a massive blow for Microsoft as Encarta was a tiny piece of the puzzle, but the symbolism is big. For the first time it is Microsoft’s product that is out off date and obsolete. What it used to regularly do to others has now been done to it and finally Microsoft has found itself behind the innovation curve.
Microsoft is still going strong, with a raft of quality products but the days of total domination are probably now confined to history, as will be Encarta soon.