As can be ascertained by its long and rather spotty history, prediction, especially the development of huge tech companies like Microsoft, can be a difficult undertaking.

Not only in terms of imponderables such as the end of the world or the weather, but in terms of concrete matter which those of the human persuasion have sussed out to the point of having devised a system.

A system that can be used to defeat all other systems and lead to great success. Alas, the greatest accomplishment in the history of human endeavor would now appear to be the grand success in convincing ourselves that there not only is a system, but that said the system is possessed of any rules, rhythm or reason.

Harder for tech companies

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Comparison: Google Docs vs Microsoft 365: An in-depth look and comparison 

Nowhere is this more true than in the business of technology. From its variable beginnings, the movement of technological progress has been at the very best an informed guess.

Indeed, it is easy in hindsight to say ‘of course it worked out that way’. But that would be as fully as to state ‘of course lightning struck here instead of there’. No one really what devices or ideas will succeed or fail.

Some that are costly and inefficient go into wide use. While other, far superior models, are forever lost to history. Do not let the clever clogs on the Internet network convince you that there is no such thing as a ‘lost technology‘.

There are and they have been documented. Just as there have been companies considered too large, too good or too established to fail. Although fail they did and they still are which raises some troubling questions about the longevity of some of Silicon Valley’s most treasured and tenacious fixtures.

Including, and perhaps especially, that grand old man of the computer business. One that has gone though some setbacks as of late, to the point that some have begun to ask, the rather pointed, the question will Microsoft survive the next five years?

The Foundations

 

Founded in 1975, this tech company was among the first modern computer companies. There are older ones, but the function for which they were designed, basically high capacity punch clocks, was quite different.

Microsoft was a computer company as we understand them to be today. One of the advantages to being first out of the gate is at least a bit of a head start on the rest of the pack. An advantage the early form of the corporation exploited with aplomb, it’s value soon rising to the billions of dollars. Not until Facebook would a tech entrepreneur accumulate so much wealth in such short order.

Microsoft eras

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Except now I’d not then and both of the company’s founders, Bill Gates and Paul Allen, the chaps who made it what it was, have left. As has Steven Ballmer, the high-powered replacement running the gears between 2000 and 2014 and the one who shepherded the company from software to hardware.

A matter of reputation

Perhaps the best indication to the question will Microsoft survive, is who is currently at the helm. Satya Nadella, a relative unknown who has been with company for over two decades, has been appointed to the to the top job. Perhaps his greatest asset is a self-described ‘love of learning’. Which one can only hope included learning form the past both positive and negative. Will Microsoft survive? Likely, perhaps not in exactly the form to which we have become accustomed but it will. As the great philosopher said ‘give a man a reputation as an early riser and he can sleep in ’til noon.’ By the same token, give a company a reputation as an industry powerhouse and so it shall be.

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Trevor McNeil spent much of his childhood playing video-games on early-form personal computers back when the disks were literally floppy. He attended the University of Victoria, completing a degree in Social Science with a concentration in Technology In Society, while also writing for the campus newspaper. He has written articles for such diverse publications as Humanity Death Watch, PopMatters and Perfect Sound Forever. He is a veteran of numerous “watershed moments” in the history of technological development and firmly believes that Han shot first.

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