Is this the end of Microsoft’s run?

Steve Jobs, the iconic founder of Apple, passed away on October 5, 2011, but another technology giant is starting to make the news about its own death knell. It’s going to be an even colder than usual winter for workers at Microsoft, makers of the Office Suite software and other programs that fill millions of computers across the world. Marketing managers within Microsoft and all around the technosphere have taken to Twitter and other media to announce the beginning of what could be massive layoffs and an ominous turn for the company.

While Microsoft itself wouldn’t comment, pink slips apparently started appearing February 1, 2012. This is after the company cut 5,000 jobs just three years ago. Whereas once the software company ruled everything from spreadsheets to word processing to desktop publishing, it’s suffered tremendous jabs from other consolidators such as Adobe (offering options like its digital image editor, Photoshop, which Microsoft has no competitor for, as well as direct competition with InDesign, an industry standard desktop publishing program that is used many times more over than Publisher, Microsoft’s entry into the field).

Microsoft isn’t about to go down easily. Sensing Google’s expansion into its territory, Microsoft issued near slanderous campaigns against the company, calling it on the carpet for its privacy policy and other issues. Of course, Microsoft also has to deal with the rabid, cult-like level of adoration Steve Jobs raised his company to, where in some cases, stores selling Apple products and software in malls are often the only place crammed to the gills with customers, some waiting in nightclub-like lines just to get in. Microsoft has no bricks-and-mortar stores, and certainly no trendy icons or fanlike devotion compared to Apple.

The ink isn’t even close to being dry on Microsoft’s obituary, nor should grave diggers or tombstone chiselers start getting their tools ready. Microsoft may not have color-drenched commercials soundtracked by indie hipsters, but it still has a stronghold over some of the most commonly used products in the technology industry.

Students are still being indoctrinated into Microsoft’s collection of programs, so it’s unlikely the company will just go belly up. Its word processing program, Microsoft Word, is almost always the choice in schools and offices all over the world. Also in the Office Suite with Word is Excel, which is usually at the top of the list when users even think about spreadsheets, as is Microsoft’s Access, a database program. Microsoft has its spokes out in homes and offices across the world as well with its Microsoft Outlook email client.

In fact, some computer users may not even realize they’re taking advantage of Microsoft’s products, though they may miss them if the company goes under. Paint, an extremely basic graphics and sketching program (not even a tasty morsel of chum compared to Adobe’s Photoshop and Illustrator Golliaths), is bundled into all Windows operating systems. The software, found in the Accessories folder, gives users the ability to do easy tasks such as add text to images, design graffiti-like lettering, use colorful shapes, and change colors. Paint also allows for resizing and cropping.

While Apple’s iTunes may have pretty much conquered the market for electronic music, Microsoft’s player is still a viable (and free) option. Slightly masked by its title of “Windows Media Player,” (Paint is also newly called Windows Paint, instead of Microsoft Paint), the option offers a free way to organize MP3s, as well as take advantage of free, streaming music. Windows Media Player is also free on operating systems and offers a diverse collection of radio stations such as trance, Celtic, country, and blues. Unlike Apple’s technology, Microsoft’s way of listening to music is computer-only. Users need their actual PCs or laptops (and headphones where necessary), instead of a little portable player like the iPod. Should Microsoft appreciators want something a little more portable, they can investigate the company’s Zune. Gamers may also find themselves fans of Microsoft’s Xbox gaming system, which may face competition from power sellers such as Playstation and Nintendo, but doesn’t show any signs of “losing its players’ lives” either.

It is unlikely Microsoft is going to roll over and reveal its soft underbelly for competitors to begin feasting upon. A quick review of the website reveals a large, centered announcement encouraging guests to check out the new Internet Explorer 9, and the Microsoft Support pages are bustling with up-to-date activity. Visitors can still get downloads, updates, product reviews, bug fixes, and user-to-user help through packed knowledge bases searchable by product or problem.

About the author: Jaime is an avid hiker and skier who loves to write in her spare time for– home of Qwest .

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