If the fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) emanating from Microsoft in the press is any indicator, things in Redmond must be dire indeed.
The fear factor of this equation is Microsoft's initial paranoid response to the ruling from Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson on the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows 95. Thank goodness Microsoft has realised that it can comply with this order after all. Besides, even if Microsoft loses it's unlikely that PC vendors will risk passing up the company's next OS-browser combination. If they don't use both, there's a fear their competitors will wind up with a better deal.
Meanwhile on the uncertainty front, we have Microsoft furiously backpedalling on plans to cut Windows NT support from customers who use Novell Directory Services (NDS). Microsoft has now agreed to provide support for these customers, but not before issuing vague, unsubstantiated warnings about how NDS might compromise NT security.
And to cap things off, Microsoft is sowing seeds of doubt concerning the practicality of using CORBA and Java as middleware. Granted there are problems with these technologies and yes, Microsoft's three-year-old Component Object Model architecture is currently more developed, but in Redmond's definition of distributed computing, every other operating system plays a subservient role to NT. Better to wait another year for the development of competing architectures that truly promise to create a level playing field across all operating systems.
By and large, FUD is harmful. Even the prospect of using the beta release of SQL Server 7.0 on NT to keep Oracle's pricing in check, creates an unwarranted impression of NT as something more than just an immature PC server packaged with a nice GUI.
So the question is, are IT managers ready to take a stand against FUD? Or will they keep wringing their hands and blaming the media for failing to right a wrong that they themselves are too timid to do anything about?