Software

Microsoft: A lot like Liverpool FC

The company hopes to regain credibility when Windows 7 hits the shelves, which is anticipated by year end.

Read time 3min 10sec

Microsoft is, without question, the Liverpool Football Club of the IT world. Both are perennial offenders in the 'promise a racehorse, deliver a donkey' department.

As any Liverpool fan knows, “this year” is permanently going to be the year when it all comes together. Too bad “this year” always seems to morph into “next year”, every year. When Microsoft was using the codename “Longhorn” for Vista, the endlessly-moving launch dates left most people feeling that “Long Finger” would have been a more appropriate choice. As the football pundits like to put it, for too long Microsoft has flattered to deceive.

With all the talk of Windows 7 hitting the beta-time soon and possibly hitting the shelves by the end of this year, curing us all of the empty promises of the over-hyped Vista, it's hard not to think of Redmond as the Anfield of operating systems. Even when they're sitting at the top of the table, they're not entirely convincing.

Like Liverpool, Microsoft has to fight for a bit of kudos while the glam clubs soak up the limelight. Chelsea and Man United fans will instantly recognise themselves as the Apples of the operating system-football world - sure, they cost a lot of money and their fans have big mouths and more than their share of smugness, but they deliver the goods and deep down inside, we know they're better.

Offside

Over the years, expensive bells and whistles have been added in an effort to emulate the flair of the competition, but like Luis Garcia, they've flopped, only to perform better at a different club. Manager Rafa Benitez's change to a rotating squad strategy, and the paint-dryingly-dull football that followed in its wake is all a bit too similar to the own-goal that was Microsoft's abandonment of the well-liked XP in favour of the muppet that is Vista (the Robbie Keane of operating systems - depending on how you look at it, it's either an expensive mistake or a quality product that simply hasn't been given a chance. Either way, it's going to be hard to sell on). In the face of criticism from the fans, both managers clung doggedly to their belief that nothing was wrong, even as some of their best players and ideas gathered splinters on their rear ends on the bench.

Whether or not this year turns out to be the one in which both Microsoft and Liverpool take home the silverware and regain credibility remains to be seen.

Pamela Weaver, journalist, ITWeb

As for Linux, that has to be Arsenal, or in the lower league, Reading. At their best, they play an attractive game and are managed by passionate, geeky leaders who put their faith in young talent and an open style of play, winning admiration and respect if not the wholesale conversion of the masses. Like Reading, you can't help feeling that Linux is good enough to be doing a whole lot better, if it could only shake its habit of losing out to lesser-quality clubs with bigger budgets.

Whether or not this year turns out to be the one in which both Microsoft and Liverpool take home the silverware and regain credibility remains to be seen. Rumblings in the tech-commentator world suggest that, given the debacle of Vista, Microsoft should repay the faithful with a free upgrade to the new system, which could see Redmond repeating the feel-good factor a la Liverpool's surprise Champions League win in 2005. Failure to build on what's left of the good faith will simply see the fans voting with their feet, especially now that they've had enough time to notice there are other teams to watch.

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