Before people flame me saying how MS's primary stratagy is taking other peoples ideas not creating their own let me clarify:
Microsoft DOES NOT invent, They innovate. Just a few examples (correct me if this isnt accurate... some of this stuff was before my time): Office was an innovation over the products of then market leader Lotus, Internet Explorer was an innovation of Netscape's products and finally Windows was an innovation of Apple and other flegling companies products.
So regarding this I have both a prediction and a question, first the prediction:
Microsoft will win out of start-ups like google and the firefox foundation. Why? simply look at the history as well as whats happening now, Windows and its products fell a bit behind. IE was filled with security holes and lacked some advanced features introduced by Firefox now the MSN toolbar allows tabbed browsing in IE and Windows live supports RSS feeds. Google maps allowed massivly cool satillite pictures of earth and now MSN virtual earth allows the same thing in what seems like a slicker package and in many cases offers closer views (this is true in my city and some other areas I looked at, and while it might be disputable now its just a matter of who has the most to invest in improvments... guess who that is?). The trend is just starting out but it seems clear already that Microsoft is shifting into high gear (who hasnt heard about that leaked memo?.. deja vu anyone?) and if I were a stock aynalist I would rate them as a very strong buy about now.
Also the question for people who bothered to read this far:
What EXACTLY is it that makes MS products so attractive?
I consider myself fairly good at preceiving what makes somethign desirable but I prefere Microsofts products to there competitors almost universally and I cant even accuratly say why. An example:
I use OpenOffice at home (since I am a cheap bastard but I dont like software piracy) and Office 97 here at work (we have the latest version of outlook and we ARE getting upgraded soon). Even though this version of Office is stone age compared to the version of OO I have at home it just seems so much better. Sure the OO spellchecker is a little off and office has few neat features but not THAT much difference.... yet I prefer office by a HUGE margine it just seems so much more "polished" and functional.... I can't define it better than that and my hand are getting tired so I'll stop here and hope someone else can expain exactly why Microsoft products are so "good" without being that much better than their competitors (if at all).