Is Microsoft Still the CIO’s Best Friend?

CIOs take notice at every new OS release and game-changing innovation rolled out by Microsoft. But are Microsoft and the CIO really all that close anymore? After all, other technology giants like Google and Apple have been turning heads for more than a decade now. Mark Samuels of ZDNet explores the relationship between the two titans of tech, to see if a lasting connection exists between the chief of IT and the global leader of IT products.

The Ubiquitous Microsoft

Even if one tries to avoid Microsoft like the plague, it’s still not possible, argues Samuels. Back-end processes, partner software – no matter how hard the CIO tries, they’ll run into the Redmond-based company’s handiwork somehow. But this does not make Microsoft an endpoint for IT outfits indefinitely. In an increasingly cloud-based infrastructure, the benefit of selling software licenses is dwindling. Flexibility and transparency are the current credos of the CIO, and that means the old software standbys are up for renewed scrutiny.

Licensing Bully

Yet even CIOs who are not trying to avoid Microsoft say they are wed to the software giant more out of convenience or coercion than out of choice. Former CIO Ian Cox cites complicated licensing as his number one dislike:

“The fact that there are specialists whose sole purpose is to interpret and explain how these licensing models work tells you all you need to know about the complexity, mystery, and confusion that exists around the myriad of Microsoft license agreements.”

It’s true that Microsoft is reviewing its license agreements. But even so, the mega-company runs what amounts to a monopoly, with integration always a concern for CIOs who consider alternative vendors.

A Friend that Looms?

If Microsoft is a friend to the CIO, it’s more like the kind of friend who makes sure you sit with them at the school lunch table (or else). But then again, that relationship could be changing as the tech giant searches for innovative ways to “stay in the game.” CIO Omid Shiraji is excited about the prospects offered by the upcoming Windows 10 edition, but a bit skeptical about claims that Microsoft’s voice software and wearable technologies are going to take hold.

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