I've heard the comparison between a software company and a car company many times, and although it's seems to fit, it's a bad analogy--or maybe it's a good one? Let me explain. Those who make that comparison only see one part of the business ecosystem. They see a company making a product which they sell to consumers for profit. They continue to update that product every so often, charging the same consumers for the upgrade. This is not wrong. In fact, when there are many competitors in their respective industries, it makes for a very healthy, vibrant economy. This is good. This is called a free market.
With respect to the current topic, this doesn't seem to apply. Inevitably there are going to be flaws with the product, be it a car or an OS. With a car made by Honda, anyone who knows how can fix it. Sure Honda offers a warranty period (and a better one for more money) during which time they'll gladly fix whatever problem their customers are having. And the machine itself is built in such a way that anyone who can take it apart and knows what the pieces are and what they do, can also fix it and put it back together. This is a sub-industry of the car industry. This is good. It means that if you own a 1996 Honda Civic, you can bet that there are hundreds, thousands of auto shops ready to fix your car for a nominal fee. These people are profiting off Honda's unwillingness to fix their old cars. This is a very large industry. This is also where the analogy to a commercial software company falls apart. For instance, when MS decided to stop fixing Win2000, there was no sub-industry to pick up the slack and make a buck. This is because no one knows how to fix it...because it's a secret. This is part of MS' business model. They see the auto shops in the car industry as merely leeching on Honda's leftovers/potential future customers. These old customers are unlikely to buy new cars from Honda if the old ones are still working long after the warranty has expired (because of the leechers fixing them all the time.) This poses a significant threat to Microsoft's sustained profitability. So, instead of allowing the free market to evolve, they stifle it by asserting their market power over their competitors. I shall not quote the testimonies of certain MS execs during the US antitrust trials, but suffice to say that one of them (Christopher Phillips) referred to Apple's QuickTime technology as "a baby needing to be knifed." This did come to pass when MS threatened steep license penalties on Compaq Computer Corp. if they continued to ship their new machines bundled with QuickTime. Compaq complied. The monopoly continued.
Anyone can fix a new Dell computer if they know how. That's because it's made from commodity hardware. You can buy a new hard drive from Newegg, or some RAM or a new motherboard and it will all interoperate just fine. That is why there is such steep competition in the OEM PC market. That's why they're so good and at such cheap prices. There's nothing really that different about any of them.
To MS, close competition is a fate worse than death. They'd rather "knife the baby" than allow for anyone to interoperate with their products, new or old. Doesn't anyone find it a bit odd that MS had to be threatend by the government before they complied with office document standards by including OpenXML into Office 2007? This should be a big hint that we're not dealing with a reasonable machine, we're dealing with the Devil. Sorry, we'll never see a subindustry to continue to make MS' products viable in the long run, not like we see with Linux. Linux is the future. It's only a matter of getting enough users to bite the BIG bullet and give MS the boot. It is, however, inevitable as the IT industry, the pros, see more and more of MS' shortcomings come alive.