you know, microsoft really is doing it right

This article got me thinking about how Microsoft is packaging some things into Vista that will put some current software makers into a real bind, such as free antivirus protection and free pdf creation/reading programs, and no doubt more.
Immediately I bristle at the notion that Microsoft can make these things better than those who specialize in it. I immediately think about all the monopoly issues that may arise, especially if Microsoft toes the line too far (particularly in Europe) and prevents competing products from being installed.
But the more I think about it, the more I truly think they have a good approach. The average consumer couldn’t give two rat asses about needing third-party antivirus, firewalls, email spam blockers, a secure web browser with pop-up blocker and decent enough features for your average middle-aged worker or teenage myspace rat (now displacing mall rats). When I buy a car, I might add on little package deals like ABS and Airbags, but I certainly don’t have to shop at Sears and pick from multitudes of vendors and pray I pick something compatible that does that job I want.
Consumers just want things to work with as much security as can be put in without getting too anal about it. This is the niche the Mac has enjoyed for quite some time: elegant simplicity and usability. Microsoft needs security in their OS, and they really cannot get away with just letting third-party software makers do the hard work they should be doing. Not only is it a bad long-term approach, but it also stymies the average consumer who doesn’t want to constantly tinker with firewall settings and spyware scans and keeping up to date with 6 different programs and pay for those upgrades every other year…they just want it to work.
We just want it to work, not overpower out lives with complexity (like the VCR clock), and not be a completely leaky hole. Security holes will always exist, especially in the market leader, but let’s get serious about what the future is. So far, that future still has Microsoft on the forefront, even if I think Vista is going to be ugly, complex, large, buggy, and still clinging to that old underlying architecture and assumptions that made Windows 98 and XP bad. But hey, they’re moving in the right direction and once that big ship gets turned the right way and starts plowing along, they’ll do some more great things.
In the meantime, I’ll stick to older Windows OS and Linux and pine for a Macbook in the near future.