2008-03-08

Axis of Evil: Sony vs. Microsoft

I don't think any two technology companies have taken as much flak in my lifetime as Sony and Microsoft. Sony and Microsoft are both huge corporations with a large workforce and a very broad product base. While Sony is an older company, Microsoft has grown very rapidly and made its own enemies even faster in my opinion. Now each seems to earn their own fair share of criticism for perfectly valid reasons. The DOJ's case against Microsoft for anti-trust behaviours lead to a findings of fact that included a number of corporate sins against competitors, partners and consumers alike. Sony has historically promised more than they can deliver with their electronics products and has a bad habit of leaving consumers high and dry with obsolete and unsupported hardware. What gets to me is how some people (and in my experience, its often gamers) will grow a specific bias toward or against one company or the other because of past transgressions that have nothing to do with the product at hand. For example, some people wouldn't buy a PlayStation 3 over an XBox 360 because Sony's Beta and Minidisc formats faded into obscurity in their view. Others swing the other way and won't touch an XBox because they don't like the Windows operating system. Sure, within the music listening populace, Sony Music made some enemies putting DRM functionality on some of its CDs that used rootkit software (which is bad), but they fixed it and backed away from that mistake after being called on it. The Sony PS3 on the other hand allows users to rip CDs to its hard drive and even share them with memory sticks or USB drives. Microsoft has a history of being involved in really draconian DRM systems as well. Their own PlaysForSure music won't play on their newer Zune products (ironic, considering the original name). My advice is to look at the actual capabilities of a system you're interested in. If you're worried about sponsoring a company that's "evil" at a corporate level, feel free to protest with your wallet become a monk or go join an anti-technology religious community because otherwise you'll go crazy trying to make product decisions. If you want to know which of those systems I prefer, feel free to stick around for another instalment, I'm sure it'll come up eventually.

1 comment:

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