Accessibility: Take 2

Tom Yager in the September 25th issue of Infoworld is arguing that accessibility should be the key measure of success for IT systems. And give credit where credit is due, Bill Gates and Microsoft rode the accessibility mandate to dominating positions on the desktop and contending position in several server software markets. The Redmond goal, “Windows provides information at your fingertips”, was technologically always ahead of the batch, LAN and mainframe delivery of information – so that it swept the day.

But now Microsoft has got caught in the same technology trap by which it rode its way to the top. In order to preserve its monopolies on the desktop, Microsft is trying to foist Smart Clients over Web and universal Java or scripting UIs, its version of Windows onto the mobile phone and embedded spaces, and its Windows technologies even into the gaming world. Its trying to set the technology agenda and standards in emerging markets to its advantage at the very cost of accessibility it had previously championed. Now, in order to get the everything-runs-in-Windows-best benefits, companies have to abandon interoperability, agility, and even aspects of usability. And with Vista they have to also clearly give away price performance as well (perhaps everything-runs-best-in-Windows has a price-performance dispensation because its all “People Ready”).

Joseph Schumpeter and other economists have argued that economics is about “creative destruction”. this is where previous winners, losing the ability to abandon past “winning formulas”, get replaced by firms and organizations that are more finely attuned to what the markets want and how to meet those needs most effectively rather than trying to make trends conform to current or partially updated offerings. Is the pricing and Accessibility of Vista just another proof point of “creative destruction” ?

(c)JBSurveyer 2006