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Microsoft: It's a scary world out there without us

Microsoft wants to make consumers fear to try the Mac, arguing that choice is expensive.

Reading through Ina Fried's excellent interview with Microsoft's Brad Brooks, I can't help but wonder how Microsoft cornered the market on chutzpah. Microsoft has become so dominant in markets like the desktop that its best argument for consumers and enterprises avoiding the Mac and open source is, "But it will cost you so much money to leave Windows."

Now there's a ringing endorsement. Brooks doesn't argue that his product is better. He doesn't argue that Windows is competitive with the Mac. He argues, rather, that consumers are fools for not understanding just how scary and expensive it will be for them to leave Windows behind:

There really is a tax around there for people that are evaluating their choices going into this holiday season and going forward. There's a choice tax that we talked about, which is, hey, you want to buy a machine that's other than black, white, or silver, and if you want to get it in multiple different configurations or price points, you're going to be paying a tax if you go the Apple way.

There's going to be an application tax, which is if you want choice around applications, or if you want the same type of application experience on your Mac versus Windows, you're going to be purchasing a lot of software. And even at that you're not going to get the same experience. You're not going to get things like Microsoft Outlook, you're not going to get the games that you're used to playing....And so you've got all of these things that are truly taxes.

In other words, it's cheaper to continue paying the Microsoft tax, wherein companies give up any hope of future innovation or industry competition, than to try that dreaded, costly thing called "choice." Brooks conveniently forgets the "monopoly tax," the "security tax," its proposed "patent tax," and other taxes that Microsoft happily heaps upon its users.

Brooks may very well be correct about consumers taking a short-term hit in terms of productivity and what-not by choosing a Mac, but by that same logic everyone should just buy into the Microsoft Borg and rely on it to provide eternal sustenance. There is a cost to choice, but there's also tremendous upside. It's called a free market, and costs inevitably fall in truly free markets.

Perhaps that's what frightens Brooks.