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I have a deeply personal story to tell. But it's not about me. It's about Microsoft.

How to begin?

When I started writing professionally almost 25 years ago, Microsoft was the be-all, end-all of personal technology. Everything was centered around Windows. And that was as true out in the world as it was internally at the software giant.

That time period coincided with an interesting and related shift: Prior to the mid-1990's, let's say through Windows 3.1 or so, I didn't really respect Microsoft or its products. I was coming at this from an Amiga bias, and everything Microsoft did just seemed terribly designed and was undeservedly popular. I resented the company, didn't understand its growing power and influence.

But that changed. Thanks to my wife's job, I was exposed to the then-beta version of Word 6.0 and Office 4.0. And I was blown away by how much more mature and full-featured it was then any Amiga word processor. As I started down what I thought was going to be a career in software development, I began writing about Microsoft developer products like Visual Basic 3, and then Windows 4.0 (soon to be Windows 95), Office for Windows 95, Plus! 95, MSN, Windows NT 4.0, and more. Suddenly, this company I had disdained was responsible for products I truly respected and wanted to use. And away we went.

Flash forward a decade and a half, and a lot has changed. Microsoft no longer sits at the center of personal computing, at least on the consumer side, where it is basically a bit player. Today, Apple, Google, and Samsung dominate. There are pros and cons to this. One might argue, for example, that this more heterogeneous world is in some ways healthier for the market and for users. But it presents a problem for those of us who are fully invested in Microsoft.

Now, I've always experimented with, and have written about, Microsoft's competitors throughout my career. So I was well positioned for this shift in some ways. And today I do write about companies like Google, Apple, and Samsung, and about platforms like Android, Chrome OS, and iOS, because they're important and because they impact our lives today, collectively, even more than Microsoft did 15 or 20 years ago.

But this presents problems, too. As a content creator who is closely associated with Microsoft, my opinions about other companies or their products are often met with a knee-jerk put-down because I am, after all, "the Microsoft guy." And those companies---Apple, Google, and Samsung in particular---have zero interest in working with me. Perhaps I'm too honest, especially in Apple's case, where a toadying base of bloggers is the norm.

On the flip-side, with Microsoft naturally veering off in a direction that will be very successful for it but is also almost uniformly uninteresting to me personally---mostly enterprise-based cloud computing---we get into some weird gray areas. And as Microsoft's consumer efforts fall by the wayside, are sort of knocked-off one-by-...

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