A story a few days ago in the WSJ looks at how the consumer electronics companies are seeking alternatives to Microsoft in an effort to avoid the fate of the PC makers:
For companies tapping the exploding digital-entertainment market, rule No. 1 is a lesson they learned from the personal-computer business: Don’t let Microsoft Corp. control the software.
Many consumer-electronics makers are maneuvering to make sure Microsoft doesn’t dictate key technical standards for their industry, as it does in the PC software business. And they don’t want to pay Microsoft a royalty on every device they sell, as computer makers must do if they load their machines with Microsoft’s Windows software. So manufacturers of music players, cellphones and other gadgets are trying to dilute Microsoft’s power by making their products compatible with rival software.
Some of the best-selling digital devices on the market — Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 2 video-game machine, Apple Computer Inc.’s iPod music player and TiVo Inc.’s video recorder — don’t use Microsoft software and their makers say they will keep it that way. Meanwhile, longtime Microsoft partners Intel Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Gateway Inc. are finding new freedom in the consumer sector, helping bring Microsoft alternatives to market and in some cases developing products that use Microsoft’s rival Linux.