Hey @oldgeek - you know, I think it’s hard to be considered the evil empire when you are so beleaguered.
Microsoft has been in a decline since Vista and that decline has allowed Mac sales to increase, allowed Google to sweep in with Chrome (which has in turn made education increasingly turn to Chromebooks), etc. Moreover, as technology has increasingly moved to mobile (whether you have a flip phone or a smartphone – and I don’t begrudge anyone who doesn’t want to pay a data plan ), that’s an area Microsoft has almost essentially ben shut-out of this generation.
So again, I think it’s hard to be seen as evil when you’re increasingly less relevant. I mean, it’s certainly still possible to be evil, but I think their poor market showing in mobile, coupled by the very stark realities that they have lost an entire generation of upcoming developers (again, because of their lack of existence on mobile) has made them come across as less evil.
And maybe I’m naive, but from my standpoint, they seem like a very different company than a decade ago – let alone 15 years ago. I think as a company, they are culturally less evil.
It’s easy to joke and say that Google is the new Microsoft – but in a lot of ways they are. I think a lot of geeks (myself included) give Google a pass at a lot of things because they were so good so early on, but increasingly, that’s the company that worries me more than anyone else. Not just because they have so much data (everyone has data), but because they are actually competent – which means they can potentially use or exploit that data in scary ways.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that for a lot of my colleagues and friends who are about 10 years younger than me, they don’t even see Microsoft as an entity. It’s kind of like how my generation (I’m 32) viewed IBM. It was like, “oh yeah, I’ve heard of them. Didn’t they used to be really big and then Microsoft took their lunch money?” That’s how I think a lot of people see Microsoft now, only it was Google/Apple/Facebook that took their lunch money in this case.