When MS Was Good
MS once sold and supported some of the best in the industry. When my company installed their WAN using MicroVAXs in our remote offices, they also chose the DEC equivalent of PCs for the rarefied places that would have a computer sitting on a desk.
These DEC XT/AT equivalents ran DOS. We used Lotus 1-2-3, Word Perfect, and dBase II and were thrilled.
I purchased my first C compiler from Microsoft in 1986 because they finally added the Compact memory model. I was even a math library tester for a time, receiving version 5 at an extreme discount for having participated in the math lib testing. (Note: they did not give it away free.)
Eventually MS began competing with the tools that ran on their operating system. Their tools were horrid by comparison, but for some reason they beat out the competition for sales. I think it was because Word and Excel and other tools were "bundled" with h/w sales and it made it cheaper for Amalgamated Incorporated, LLC, PC, LSMFT to buy if they were willing to use inferior desktop applications.
About that time, Steve Jobs was selling a compact device that had "bundled" software that did all of this and much more, but it was rock-solid, intuitive, and worked out of the box. Of course, Steve asked people to pay what it was worth rather than take the "first one's free" approach of the Redmond Con Man.
By the time the lemmings (me among them) ran off the "visual O/S" precipice, MS was selling everything but the box. We were buying the O/S, desktop apps, databases, networks, comms packages, and just about everything else for which the price was "our very souls."
Windows '95 was a disaster. Windows ME was worse. Vista was a wide crater waiting to be bored into the crash site of our enterprises. To a lesser extent Win 8 was a disaster, but the world already spent all of its allied compassion for MS by then and any tiny stumble was a public failure.
Still, in the midst of this, developer's tools -- long forgotten by the Redmond Orcs -- finally garnered some attention and we have gotten .NET, VS versions that are free (and still good), .NET Core, VS "subscriptions" to replace the MSDN subscriptions, servers that are solid (finally), enterprise RDBMS that are capable (finally), and some capabilities and support for industry standards in web and internet protocols.
I felt like Satya had rescued MS from the Ballmer/Sinofsky axis of evil that very nearly killed MS. Open source versions of .NET, participation (although like the neighborhood bully) in OS committees, and improvements of their development and server products (their desktop app history still being one of debate) have raised MS from an execration to okay.
Even though it has been very difficult to convince me that Win 8.1 or Win 10 is anything but a self-goal when a hat-trick was needed, at least with the development community, MS and Satya have all contributed to returned value, in my opinion.
That was when MS was good.
Now Bad MS is back. MS the hardware builder. MS the unified. MS the one-stop-shop.
This all reminds me of how hard they tried to convince us that Vista was good. Or that '95 was good. Or that the Paper Clip was good. Or that ... you know.
MS stumbles. Sometimes it stumbles hard. I will remember, though.
When MS was good.