MS: Customers stay because switching’s too expensive

Internal emails reveal cunning strategy…

The European Competition’s decision on the Microsoft ruling was released on Thursday by the Wall Street Journal, which obtained a leaked copy of the report that was prepared for Microsoft.
The 300-page document, now available on the European Commission web site, contains some fascinating insights into Microsoft’s culture and business practices in the form of direct quotes from internal emails sent by the company’s senior executives.
On page 126, in a section describing the way that Microsoft’s Windows operating system has become a ‘must-carry’ product for client PC vendors, the Commission quotes from an internal memo drafted for Bill Gates by C++ general manager Aaron Contorer in 1997.
In the email, Contorer outlines the reason why he thinks that customers have stuck with Windows despite Microsoft’s shortcomings. He attributes their loyalty to the high costs of switching away from their existing heavy investment in the Windows Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
“The Windows API is so broad, so deep, and so functional that most ISVs would be crazy not to use it. And it is so deeply embedded in the source code of many Windows apps that there is a huge switching cost to using a different operating system instead…” the email reads.

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