Does Microsoft win by quality or by inertia?
I've watched a number of my friends switch from using Internet Explorer to FireFox. I've also seen people break out of the Office environment and move to OpenOffice.org. Microsoft Messenger? How about Trillian or Gaim instead? All worthy alternatives.
I've got each of these alternatives loaded on my computer(s). I agree that using them is a good idea to avoid security breaches and to support the concept of choice. And what do I find myself doing almost daily? Launching IE and Word. Why? Is it because I think IE and Word are superior products and should be my first choice? No. I think I finally put my finger on it today.
Old habits die hard, and I tend to use what I'm used to. I'm used to IE, and that's where my bookmarks are. So I launch IE. I'm used to the features in Word, so I launch Word. Since Firefox is a little different and my bookmarks aren't exactly the same, I don't think to launch it first. Since OpenOffice.org takes longer to launch and doesn't react quite the way I'm used to, I use Word instead. Not that the MS options are better, just that they are more familiar. The admittedly minor effort to break out of a rut keeps me from practicing what I preach and believe.
So what do I do? Force myself to take those steps to eliminate the convenience factor. I run Gaim on my Linux box which is right next to my laptop. I removed the IE icon from the Quick Launch bar on W2K. Now my quick option is to launch FireFox, and in reality there's only a couple of bookmarks that weren't there from my initial install and import of IE bookmarks. For my December e-ProWire newsletter articles, I'm writing them with OpenOffice.org's Writer. I'll save in Word format, as I need to exchange the data with someone else. But still, I'll use this as my personal self-training.
This flaw in my character makes me wonder how much of Microsoft's market share is predicated on quality and how much is due to convenience.