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Is it possible Microsoft could fail?

Ahead of the release of Windows 8, there has been some speculation on Microsoft's future. Will the company break out of its slump? Will it get a new image? How will Windows 8 perform? What if nobody likes it? What happens next?

Let's get a few things straight. Even if Windows 8 is a huge dog and bombs the way Vista did, it will not matter. There is still nothing out there that can take Microsoft out of the game. Apple has the only other quality operating system around, and it is proprietary and still more expensive. Cost is an important piece of the puzzle.

Linux may have a chance, but it is held back by all sorts of factors. I've been using Linux but still prefer Windows. The reasons are minor, except for the fact that Adobe refuses to put its Creative Suite on Linux, where it would probably perform better. A Linux box, as it now stands, is good for light word processing, order entry, and web surfing. It would be perfect in certain office environments.

The Linux OS also has a peculiar feel that is hard to explain, but it never feels the way Windows and Macintosh do. This is something that concerns me because I cannot put my finger on it. Others will say the same thing.

The backstory: The programming language Forth gives me the same dubious feeling. I always get into trouble when I mention this, but since the 1980s, I've complained about it. It's a specialty language that seems to be popular to this day among people who write code for control mechanisms. Every so often, a desktop application shows up coded in Forth and I generally spot it because of its muddy feel. There is no other way to describe it. It is very subtle but uncomfortable.

Digital Research had one of the first PC-oriented GUIs called GEM that predated Windows. Microsoft is credited with destroying it in the market when Bill Gates personally went around telling people not to use it because Windows was going to be better, which it wasn't, until years later. This didn't matter, though. I used GEM and it was extremely muddy. Trying to use the unresponsive pointer was as frustrating as trying to control a helium balloon.

The point is that Microsoft and Apple both got the feel right, and have maintained that edge over everything else that has since come along.

Before Microsoft ever fails in the marketplace, many things have to happen. Mainly, Microsoft has to shoot itself in the foot over and over, not just once or twice. It doesn't tend to do this. It will botch a product such as Vista or Windows ME and come right back with a fixer like Windows 7 or Windows 2000. Losing ideas such as Zune or Microsoft Bob had very minimal impact on the company. Microsoft's failure list is a long one, but the firm's cash cows have continued to pump profits out.

It seems to me that companies such as Cisco or Google could produce a real standalone OS to unseat Windows, but that does not seem to be on the cards. Google, above all, has this capability based on how the company is structured.

Then there is Adobe. It could have built a workstation around its Creative Suite, optimised to run the Adobe products on dedicated multi-core systems without the Windows or Mac middle men slowing things down. But no.

So, we can all moan and groan about Microsoft and Ballmer, but unless someone steps up to the plate to challenge them in some real way, we may as well accept things the way they are. And to be honest, this stuff isn't all that bad. It's just overpriced.