Mike Elgan does a good job capturing the rise and fall of technology cults in 2007. Apple? The cult continues to grow, both deeper and broader. Linux? It's starting to wane as its own commercial success has undermined the community cult. Google? On the upswing.
But what about Microsoft? The cult of Microsoft is in free fall, according to Elgan.
It's hard to inspire a cult when you're an uncharismatic market share leader. Nonetheless, a Microsoft cult does exist. In 2007, however, the group lost a lot of members, and those who remain have lost faith. Why? In a word: Vista. This false prophet of an operating system is slow, buggy, confusing and problematic. Vista's main benefit to the cult is that it makes members realize how much they liked XP.
Microsoft has been slowly improving its Windows Mobile OS, and various online offerings, but these incremental gains mean little when Apple and Google are dominating the cultosphere so thoroughly with their respective products and services. The cult got a minor revelation in the form of the new Zunes, which turned out to be surprisingly nice. Unfortunately, Apple preemptively PWNED this whole line with its new iPods.
"Cults" are good and bad in technology. As Elgan notes, they can help spread the word about a product/company and the myopia can help people overlook the shortcomings in these companies and/or products. Microsoft needs to get its cult back. I spend a lot of time with customers who buy Microsoft's products, but fewer and fewer that gloat about them. That's not a good sign.