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5 Reasons You Should Get Over Hating Microsoft

Microsoft has gotten a bad rap. It’s no secret. Employees are fully aware of their status as the “evil empire,” which explains why employees on the Redmond, WA campus started wearing self-mocking “I am the empire” t-shirts.

Let’s get this straight. Microsoft is the company known for chewing up and spitting out their competitors by unfairly leveraging its ubiquitous Windows operating system. Some of those tactics haven’t changed. However, thanks to various lawsuits and a pretty negative public perception, the Microsoft of ten years ago only vaguely looks like the Microsoft of today.

In fact, many of Microsoft’s consumer offerings, if by any other company, would be loved rather than loathed. While there are still plenty of reasons to get mad at Microsoft, the good in Microsoft should be celebrated.

Why should you get over hating Microsoft? Let me count the ways:

1. Windows Live ID has incorporated OpenID technology. It means you can log-in to many other OpenID-enabled sites with your Microsoft account. “Wait,” you say. “That’s an open standard!” Yes, apparently the new Microsoft isn’t immune to adopting other people’s good ideas after all. The thorn to OpenID’s rose is the fact the company doesn’t allow you to log in to Microsoft sites with outside OpenID accounts yet, but it’s coming.

2. You may not know it, but you can get 25 gigs for free on Windows Live. Microsoft’s SkyDrive gives you more than your free Gmail and Yahoo accounts combined. Even better, SkyDrive is built into the Windows 7 operating system, so it shows up in your shared drives just like if you had a hard drive on your local network. Users can upload and download files through their Windows Live accounts. However, with Windows Live Mesh, you can synchronize files on your Macs or Windows machines seamlessly. Soon enough, SkyDrive, Windows Live Mesh and another folder syncing service called Windows Sync will all combine, giving you 25 gigs to share across all platforms.

3. Much of Windows’ Consumer Applications Are Free. Sure, its two flagship products, Windows and Office, will remain expensive forever. But many of its consumer offerings are online for free for the sole purpose of making its flagship more attractive. To the rest of us though, it’s just free software that allows us tools to send instant messages, write e-mail, blog, make movies, browse the internet and organize and host photos online. Of course, you can find competing products like Yahoo Messenger, Mozilla Thunderbird and Firefox and Google’s Picasa for free too.

4. Microsoft Participates in Standards Development More Than You Think. The company may not adopt standards as fast as others. For example, Internet Explorer hasn’t adopted many of the standards adopted by most other major browsers when it comes to HTML 5 and CSS 3. However, if there is a W3C, Open Stack, CSS 3, WHAT Working Group or other established standards meeting, you can bet a Microsoft employee will be there and actively participating. Such participation should be acknowledged and applauded, especially since they have a hand in molding the future of the industry. However, the standards take much too long to get integrated within Microsoft products compared with competitors. Microsoft’s spin is that they aren’t going to adopt a standard until it is fully baked. Meanwhile, they hold back the very standards they, and many others, are working to employ.

5. Microsoft has Given Up Trying to Buy or Compete With Everyone. In spite of their efforts, it looks like Microsoft will not be able to buy up or destroy every piece of technology that shows some success. Thanks in part to court orders and competitors like Google who have actually had the upper hand over Microsoft and held it, Microsoft either had to conform or die. In its attempt to give the perception that the company will play fair, we now see Twitter, Flickr, and Digg integration in Windows Live Writer. Windows Vista and Windows 7 will allow you to choose your preferred browser, search engine and music player. The products still won’t make it easy though. In every effort, you’ll have to jump through some hoops to remove Windows Live from your default settings.

There are still plenty of more reasons to hate Microsoft, especially if you are a Linux user. Microsoft does have a bit of a rough spell to get over. Thanks to plenty of international court actions, the behemoth no longer enjoys many of the same freedoms other, smaller companies do. Given Microsoft’s history, in many ways they deserve to have their feet held to the fire a little bit. But maybe it’s time to give Microsoft a little leeway. After all, Windows 7 actually looks promising, and chances are it will be pre-installed on your next Netbook.

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