Microsoft Is Already Two Companies

by Derrick Story

Many people are debating how Microsoft will fare if the courts split it into two companies. As I see it, the house that Gates built has been two companies for some time now: the Windows software group and the Mac group.

This light bulb first began to flicker when I launched IE 5 for the Mac. I'd never seen a web browser like this before. It was innovative, standardized, and heaven for bid, handsome. Tell me again who wrote it.

It was such a radical departure for a Microsoft product that I did a little investigating to see how this could happen. I learned that there is a separate Macintosh team within the company, located in Silicon Valley, and that they like to compete with the Windows group. Well, they sure beat the pants of them with IE 5 for the Mac.

Then Office 2001 for the Mac hit the streets. OK, big deal. Office 98 is already pretty slick, and $259 is a lot to pay for a new version of MS Word. I'll stand pat. That is, until I began to hear the talk about a new contact manager / e-mail client / Palm desktop / application included in Office 2001 called Entourage.

Should I be excited? I mean, if I want e-mail Microsoft style on my Mac, I can get Outlook Express 5 for free.

Well hang on to your hard hat, because Outlook Express is as similar to Entourage as a bicycle is to a Harley-Davidson. Seriously.

Here's why:

  • Entourage is really fast.

  • I can turn off HTML formatting in RECEIVED e-mail documents and just view the text and links without all those annoying graphics screaming at me. (Worth the money alone)

  • All of that valuable data in my Handspring Visor that I've spent months gathering and cleaning -- well, Entourage imports it perfectly ... including all of my established categories.

  • The Advanced Find is amazing.

  • Integrated calendar, task list, address book, and notes work beautifully.

  • A Palm OS (yes I said Palm) Conduit that enables complete HotSyncing of data with Entourage. And it works flawlessly.

  • I can use AppleScript to automate tasks in Entourage.

  • Entourage looks, feels, and behaves like a Mac application.

On one screen I can view my monthly calendar, see today's appointments, review the progress of my tasks, and of course ... read my e-mail. Mac users have gone from second class, nonintegrated, incompatible, unorganized citizens to the top of the heap.

Of course this has ruined me. Now when I use Outlook on my Windows ThinkPad, I feel, well, kind of bored -- similar to the feeling I've been experiencing using IE 5.5 on Windows.

So as far as I'm concerned, Microsoft is already two companies. And that second company is writing some beautiful software.