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Microsoft and Google Duke It Out For the Future 297

Posted by kdawson
from the send-in-the-clouds dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "There is a long article in the NYTimes, well worth reading, about the future of applications and where they will reside — on the Web or on the desktop. Google President Eric Schmidt thinks that 90 percent of computing will eventually reside in the Web-based 'cloud.' Microsoft faces a business quandary as it tries to link the Web to its existing desktop business — 'software plus Internet services,' in its formulation. 'Microsoft will embrace the Web while striving to maintain the revenue and profits from its desktop software businesses, the corporate gold mine, a smart strategy for now that may not be sustainable,' according to the article. Google faces competition from Microsoft and from other Web-based productivity software being offered by startups, and it is 'unclear at this point whether Google will be able to capitalize on the trends that it's accelerating.' David B. Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School, says the Google model is to try to change all the rules. If Google succeeds, 'a lot of the value that Microsoft provides today is potentially obsolete.' Microsoft used to call this 'cutting off their air supply."
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Microsoft and Google Duke It Out For the Future

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  • Why choose? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by damburger (981828) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @04:52PM (#21720120)

    I don't trust Microsoft running software on my computer and to be honest, after what happened with China, I don't trust Google to store my information online. This isn't tin-foil hat paranoia, I am simply very aware that data is vital to modern free speech (given the advances made in propaganda by those that would deny us the ability to voice our opinions), and its only going to get moreso as time goes on.

    • Re:Why choose? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @05:01PM (#21720194)
      I agree.

      Besides, with a perfectly good, free, open source alternative (i.e. OpenOffice) why should anyone put their data at risk by using some web based application? I'd rather have the software local so I can do the work online or not.

      I think the web-based model falls flat as soon as people actually look at what is available for free.
      • Re:Why choose? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by damburger (981828) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @05:12PM (#21720268)

        Exactly. I didn't want to be seen doing an overt plug, but OpenOffice is what I use to avoid placing my trust in either closed-source or an evil document overlord. The good news on this front, is that frankly Google Docs sucks balls as an office package, and the new MS Office interface has alienated a lot of long time users. Its a good time for the free alternative to shine.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          The kind of people that are alienated by MS Office 2007's new interface are the same kind of people that are NOT going to bother installing and learning OpenOffice.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by edwdig (47888)
            The kind of people that are alienated by MS Office 2007's new interface are the same kind of people that are NOT going to bother installing and learning OpenOffice.

            Wouldn't it be the people that AREN'T alienated by it be the people that wouldn't bother with OpenOffice?

            The people who don't like it are going to be the ones trying something else. Why would the people who like it or don't care either way bother switching?
            • by tsa (15680)
              The people who don't like Office 2007 are mostly people who are not computer savvy enough to even know about the existence of OpenOffice.
              • Re:Why choose? (Score:5, Interesting)

                by edwdig (47888) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:28AM (#21723370)
                The people who don't like Office 2007 are mostly people who are not computer savvy enough to even know about the existence of OpenOffice.

                I take that to mean you like Office 2007 and don't see why other people wouldn't like it.

                Office 2007 has a drastically different UI than just about every other GUI software ever made. The UI goes against every prior set of UI guidelines. You've got major functionality placed in a menu that normally only has window management features. You've got core functionality (save, undo) placed in the title bar. The ribbons are a mish-mash of controls with no obvious logic on how it was designed. You go across the ribbon and you'll see each set of buttons has a different style. Button sizes aren't remotely uniform. Some buttons are labelled with text while others aren't. Even within a set of related buttons (say cut/copy/paste), you get completely different styles for the buttons.

                You've also got things like options organized into categories such as "Popular". It's hard to make things harder to find than that, as there isn't any way to know what category an option would fit into with categories like that.

                The people most likely to not like the Office 2007 interface are the people who are familiar enough with computers to have expectations of how a UI is supposed to be designed.

                People who are totally computer unsavy are just going to think it's different, neither good or bad.
        • Re:Why choose? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by kestasjk (933987) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @08:40PM (#21721588) Homepage
          Despite what Linux mags would have you think OpenOffice vs MS Office isn't going in the same direction as Firefox vs IE. Out of everyone I've spoken to the only people I know who didn't much prefer Office 2007 to 2003 was an Access trainer, who was very familiar with Access 2003.

          Any time is a good time for a free alternative to shine, but OpenOffice more than ever has something very difficult to compete with. I think the best you can hope for is that OpenOffice was in part a cause of MS putting everything into Office 2007.
          Things aren't going to get easier for OpenOffice either, as MS replaces VBA with .NET in Office 2007.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by edwdig (47888)
            Despite what Linux mags would have you think OpenOffice vs MS Office isn't going in the same direction as Firefox vs IE. Out of everyone I've spoken to the only people I know who didn't much prefer Office 2007 to 2003 was an Access trainer, who was very familiar with Access 2003.

            From my experience, the only people who did prefer Office 2007 were the kind of people that barely knew enough about Office to get their job done. Those people only cared because the ribbon had icons for things that weren't in the d
      • Re:Why choose? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Teckla (630646) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @06:10PM (#21720696)

        Besides, with a perfectly good, free, open source alternative (i.e. OpenOffice) why should anyone put their data at risk by using some web based application?

        With a perfectly good, free online alternative (i.e., Google Docs), why should anyone put their data at risk by having it stored in only one place (i.e., at home) and likely not backed up?

        OK, I'm not saying Google Docs is right for everyone, but you seem to be completely dismissing the advantages of having your documents online and ignoring the disadvantages of having your documents offline.

        Both approaches (online and offline) will continue to exist and thrive because different people have different needs.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          There is the rub. All someone or some company has to do is have an extremely basic backup policy in place and that argument goes away completely.

          I realize, though, that probably almost nobody in the general public backs up their data, but what of real value does such a user have? Some lost letter to the editor won't ruffle anyone's feathers if they lost it. Probably the more valuable data would be the working files for tax applications.

          But few home users will be putting much effort into a presentation
          • Re:Why choose? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Bilbo (7015) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @11:30PM (#21722536) Homepage
            Uh... I've worked in IT for many years, and backup policies are freaking NEVER "extremely basic". You're assuming a ubiquitous, homogeneous, strictly controlled environment, where you can always know what software people have installed on their systems, and where every machine is. In reality, you've got machines all over the place, and with the increasing use of laptops in business today, you don't know where they are, or when they are on the network. Worse yet, you don't know if the disks are secure, or if some joker just left his 160Gig hard drive loaded with sensitive corporate information unlocked in the back seat of his car.

            As has been noted elsewhere, online documents are not for everyone, but anyone who really sits down for a while and starts thinking about what kinds of possibilities an online service opens up, especially in flexibility of "place", as well as on-line collaboration, will start to see some very interesting options suddenly opening up.

        • Re:Why choose? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Macthorpe (960048) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @08:02PM (#21721330) Journal

          With a perfectly good, free online alternative (i.e., Google Docs), why should anyone put their data at risk by having it stored in only one place (i.e., at home) and likely not backed up?
          Because, and of course this is my opinion, Google Docs is not 'perfectly good' unless you want very, very little.

          Take their presentation software. Say I want to create a simple square on the screen, something that a lot of presentations need. On Google Docs, I have to go to a graphics package, make a picture of a square, and then import that as a picture in to the presentation. You'd better hope that it's the right size too because it's a picture, and if you resize it your line thicknesses will be changed as well. Next simple thing is fading. Snapping from one slide to another is hard on the eyes for a long period - fading from one slide to another makes it easier. Google's presentations have no transitions whatsoever.

          That's just the first two obvious things that sprang up when I tested. The spreadsheet app supports enough in the way of Excel formulae to be usable but it's incredibly slow to update with changes I make, sometimes up to 2-3 seconds to do something that a desktop app would do instantly. Conditional formatting is incredibly limited and macroing is right out the window. Similarly the Word app does enough to be usable but doesn't do anything that I would consider normal on a day to day basis.

          The keyboard shortcuts don't work on Firefox 2.0.0.11. A choice of somewhere between 4 and 10 fonts without the option to import any more. I mentioned the interface lag which is annoying enough to mention twice. No support for Opera, which generally means it's not web standards compliant. No spellchecker that I could find.

          I could go on and on, but I won't. It might be fine for somebody to pull together a few quick sums, or write a very basic list of things to do, but for anything more than that it's crap. I've used more functionality than Google Docs provides compiling City of Heroes data on a spreadsheet and writing my resumé, and that's saying something.

          So yes, use Google Apps to store your documents, but sure as hell don't try and edit them. If Google Docs is the future of web-based applications, Microsoft aren't in for any problems at all.
        • by Yvanhoe (564877)
          There may be room for a remote, encrypted, backup filesystem. Nothing more, nothing less.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ceoyoyo (59147)
          There are advantages to having your documents online, and advantages to having your apps offline. I fail to see any persuasive advantages to having your apps online, and quite a few disadvantages.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ImaLamer (260199)
          And for some people, they can see the value of both.

          I can create and edit documents at home and *put* them online if I choose to, through many different outlets. Private or shared. And applications like Google Docs can help in a pinch when you just want to keep a silly spreadsheet of something, or a portable document to print. You can access it at work, at home, and now on your mobile device. I can keep a running spreadsheet from anywhere - that's the point of this connected office. Microsoft just better ca
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by iamacat (583406)
          What exactly is Google's backup policy? Did they already backup the document you updated yesterday evening? Can you ask them to? If this document later proves personally or legally compromising, can you ask them to purge it from their backup, cache and targeted ad keywords? Planning a visit to China? Are you sure they will not hand it over to authorities if you are suspected of spreading political descent, Falun Gong or Christianity? After all, an employee threatened with having himself and his whole family
      • by canuck57 (662392)

        Besides, with a perfectly good, free, open source alternative (i.e. OpenOffice) why should anyone put their data at risk by using some web based application? I'd rather have the software local so I can do the work online or not.

        I 100% agree. Putting my data onto Google computers does not sit well with me. Plus no mater how hard they try, when your linked to saving data on the network it will be slower than saving locally. Then there are security issues. And having learned the Microsoft lock-in, why gi

    • Re:Why choose? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bigman2003 (671309) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @05:03PM (#21720210) Homepage
      Google makes an incredible search engine.

      They also make a LOT of crappy software.

      I've got a Google Search Appliance (the hardware/software combo to have a personal Google search). The interface is so bad, I can't believe it was made by a software company.

      I run Adsense/Adwords- the interface for that is also atrocious.

      Just from those quick examples, I can say that I do *not* welcome our new Google application developer overlords.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 16, 2007 @04:53PM (#21720130)
    When is the party going to be?
  • by FoolsGold (1139759) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @04:58PM (#21720162)
    Microsoft will just try to buy-out this "Internet" thingy so it's no longer a threat.
  • Define "cloud." (Score:5, Interesting)

    by palegray.net (1195047) <philip.paradis@pa3.14legray.net minus pi> on Sunday December 16, 2007 @05:02PM (#21720204) Homepage Journal
    Whether applications and data predominantly reside on servers controlled by corporate entities may be asking the wrong question. Considering the exponential increase in Internet connected devices, coupled with increased processor power and bandwidth attached to single devices, the very definition of "server" may be about to change. Let IPV6 get rolled out on a massive scale, and the line between what's a server and what's a client device may become extremely blurry. This creates an environment ripe for the development of new client layers and application models, operating on a much more distributed scale than we're seeing now.

    In other words, take the Google model of massively distributed computing and apply it to the whole ecosystem of net-enabled devices. The future will probably be a lot weirder than we think.

    • Really? I think you can only leverage the thin client model so far before the synergies dry up and you reach fundamental architectural limitations. As the envelope is stretched from web 2.0 to web 2.1 and expanded to breaking point with web 2.1 service pack 1, we may see a resurgence in peer to peer abstracted database solutions enmeshed in a pastiche of performant but robust virtualization layers.

      In other words, take the consulting model of highly topical verbose lexicon, and apply it to a popular internet
    • Re:Define "cloud." (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hey! (33014) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @06:03PM (#21720642) Homepage Journal
      Well, let me give you an alternative definition I sometimes use for "database": A database is a collection of information that is governed by a single, identifiable set of enforceable polices.

      The reason I sometimes trot this odd, non-technical definition out is that planners sometimes get tripped up over questions like "should we have one database or many databases?" However, it's often question that doesn't mean what they think it means. Placing all your eggs in one database basket doesn't unify them into a working system. It doesn't tell one part of your organization what the other is up to. It doesn't mean that giving one group control over a certain set of data gives them any other rights they shouldn't have. On the other hand, an "isolated database" may consume or produce data from other databases in a way that implies controlling that physical resource isn't the whole story about controlling data quality or limiting data distribution.

      The point is that the number of "databases", if you count them the way a database platform vendor would, is really just an implementation detail.

      The question you raise about the definition of "server" has already been raised by projects like Seti@Home or distributed.net. As a contributor to such projects, your control over your "slice" of the massive project is limited pretty much to opting in or out. Arguably with the distributed systems that are common for high traffic Internet sites, for electronic data interchange systems of nearly any kind, even for a simple server cluster, an individual server is not really all that important.

      The important questions for a project include: Where is the bulk of policy created? How are policies enforced? What are the options and rewards, if any, offered to participants?

      While "servers" as we think of them are a key part of the infrastructure, we're well beyond the point where they are a single point of control for a major project.
  • the best quote (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fermion (181285) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @05:07PM (#21720238) Homepage Journal
    TO Mr. Raikes, the company's third-longest-serving executive, after Mr. Gates and Mr. Ballmer, the Google challenge is an attack on Microsoft that is both misguided and arrogant. "The focus is on competitive self-interest; it's on trying to undermine Microsoft, rather than what customers want to do," he says.

    If we need proof that MS is the new IBM, i.e. delusional in the belief that it is the one and only solution for the customer, this is it.

    It is certain that MS now has one of the best solution for corporate on the PC. It is equally certain due to the overhead incurred to defend and maintain the PC, MS does not have the best solution for the home PC. By maintaining the applications on a central server, for free or nearly free, Google has the benefits of the central server in IBM days with the cost benefit that MS supplied. Add to that the idea that many people would now would be happy with an appliance, recall that many people do not work in an office, and one has an opportunity for competition. MS is not doing well in the living room, only in the game room.

    I wonder if MS can live in a world where it does not get a cut out of every PC sold. Where more machines, like the OLPC, are not designed to run MS Windows, and therefore cannot be catagorized as a pirate's dream machine if sold naked, or with a non-MS OS. I wonder how many web designers are going to continue to design IE only websites if only 10% of the population browse using a non-MS compatible hardware.

    MS creates adequate products, but like IBM they have it wrong. Google is not the arrogant company. MS is. By creating a new os that costs more than the computer. By not suppling IE to all major OS. By waiting 5 years to admit that multiplatform means more than just running on different versions of MS Windows, and interoperability is not bad for the end user.

    Let me also say that I would not use Google Apps, not for anything important, but I am not the target audience. I can maintain my own machine and download and install OSS. The world where everyone uses google is not much less scary than the world we are in now. OTOH, at least my office might not tell me that everyone uses MS, and that is all they will support on the website.

  • Desktop For Me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by denalione (133730) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @05:15PM (#21720286)
    As an IT Director my primary concern it the productivity and uptime of my clients. Network based software is IMHO not reliable enough to rely on. Any number of connectivity issues could cause a complete loss of use. With certain applications this is not an option. While developers could mitigate these problems (a small footprint executable that allows me to print something even when the host application is down, for example) I would have a hard time recommending migrating to a primarily web-based office/productivity suite. Too many things out of my control for my comfort. Google isn't who the CEO is going to come to when his secretary can't produce something he needs RIGHT NOW.
    • Re:Desktop For Me (Score:4, Informative)

      by Chabil Ha' (875116) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @05:34PM (#21720458)
      Our company decided to switch a portion of IT over to these wireless thin clients. They reasoned that maintenance costs would be lower since all the machines would be virtual instances inside a rack of blade servers. Plus, it would make them more mobile inside the building. Good idea, in theory, I suppose.

      Then things quickly would grind to a halt because of network bandwidth issues, someone accidentally unplugged an access point, etc. It's a mess. For the first few months we would get periodic emails saying how great it was, when *we* would be moving to 'the workspace of the future', et all. I've stopped getting those emails all of a sudden...

      Last I heard they're rethinking the whole ordeal, have now issued everyone *real laptops*, and are remoting into a real PC.

      Now, for the real post.

      Did we learn anything in the world of main frames? It seems that we've come full circle from the time where we all had to take turns for CPU cycles...We've gone from 'dumb terminals' to the PC revolution, to the 'network' and now back to centralized, smart-dumb terminals again. Please, lets go back to the desktop PC before its too late...
    • Re:Desktop For Me (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ciaohound (118419) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @06:09PM (#21720684)
      I don't know what size organization you have, but mine is small. I can tell you that the economics of developing anything in-house are quickly shifting to prohibitive. For the applications that we have deployed recently, it was cheaper to just have the vendor host the data rather than build out our own infrastructure and host it ourselves. It's true that when our connection has a problem, we're dead in the water, but compared to the cost of staff to maintain the infrastructure and applications, it is negligible.
    • As an IT Director.... Google isn't who the CEO is going to come to when his secretary can't produce something he needs RIGHT NOW.

      Here's a frightening thought, though: Google, and other web services, may be the reason the CEO decides he doesn't need an IT Director, or even an IT Department.

      I hope that's not the case everywhere, if only so we don't end up with a monopoly, but that's exactly the way it is at our company. Small company, we basically have a NAS in a box for local filesharing, there's a printer

    • Agreed. Server-based applications may or may not make sense within an organization, depending on the needs of the users, but there aren't too many cases where they make sense outsourced to a third party. Technical folks -- and that would certainly be Google's management in a nutshell -- are too often oblivious to the requirements of doing business. Even if Google (or whomever) could magically provide %99.999 uptime and perfect, reliable connectivity, there are so many reasons not to outsource IT that it baf
    • That's all fine, but the truth is that with WindowsXP and especially Vista, you are not in control of the desktop, either. Microsoft is. If they decide to deactivate a certain desktop OS, they can do it. Even by mistake. I hope you were aware of this.
  • by JustNiz (692889) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @05:22PM (#21720354)
    The whole drive to do this seems to be only to facilitate comapnies in making more profit.
    What about the users interests?
    Honestly it seems very clear to me that suddenly having to be connected to the internet (with all its associated performance and security issues) just to do do something like write or store a document would be a giant step backwards.
  • by 3seas (184403) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @05:26PM (#21720390) Journal
    Why run application off the internet or even store data online unless its directly an online internet all accessible use thing like in web pages, blogs, message boards, etc.?
    Its not like any company today can't have their own inhouse server for inhouse control and security and online limited access.

    With todays desktop system power and terabyte drives isn't it more likely that what's online now can become offline accessible. In other words, its more likely that we move data from online to offline than vise versa. I've recently put together a localhost LAMP/desktop system just because I found wordpress on firefox to be versatile and simple enough for my aging mother to write her autobiography on while dealing with some eye sight problems (ctrl-+/- zooms) with easy pictures addin. And just because its on a system not connected to the internet the export/import function of wordpress allows the data to be put online should she so chose (she could send me a cd for me to import to a family site I set up - but by her choice, not due some leaky internet).
    So even internet applications can be moved to the internet disconnected desktop, where there is security and performance in not being connected,.

    Certainly any businesss applications no more needs the additional possible failures and security breaches of internet connection, ISP problems and weakest link connection than does home applications with slower or no internet connections.

    Sorry Google, but really, your search engine suffers more and more from ad based listings rather than what I'm looking for (i.e. looking for specification information on an old Dell Latitude xp 450c laptop results in endless finding for batteries, power adaptors, etc sellers.... and virtually no links I could find of any use to me.... I can only wonder who all these sellers are selling to.)

  • Google, and Microsoft may seem like the bigger players here. But I don't think Google's business model has a chance of winning. Quite simply it's too cheap and with thier primary income coming from advertising and search. How are they going to make money by practically giving you the applications. You'd have to have a link to search of some sort. This becomes counterintuitive to users who don't want to be advertised to while they are typing up thier business plans etc. Microsoft today would need to c
    • <i>But I don't think Google's business model has a chance of winning. Quite simply it's too cheap and with thier primary income coming from advertising and search. How are they going to make money by practically giving you the applications.</i>

      http://www.google.com/a/help/intl/en/admins/editions_spe.html

      They sustain it with the support payments from their clients. These prices may well increase over time or as new features are offered. For the moment it is roughly a dollar a week, per user, for
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm waiting for the game Age of Conan to be released so I can check it out on my bad ass desktop. Someone from Google can let me know when things like this game and such run in the browser I guess.

    Any one who says the desktop and it's software are going away is blowing smoke up your ass.

    • The sad fact is, just about all need for a "desktop" computer can now be replaced by an Internet appliance and a game console.
      • by SL Baur (19540)

        The sad fact is, just about all need for a "desktop" computer can now be replaced by an Internet appliance and a game console.

        Yes. Software developers have always been a minority. :( Heh, I'm old enough to remember when only the hard core Ada developers got local disks with their Sun 3s, the rest of us were diskless.

        Perhaps you can expect "desktop" computers to move increasingly to places in the world without (reliable or any) internet access, which is where I will be for the foreseeable future.

  • Tired old crap (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dread (3500)
    Remember the JavaStation? No? Remember how all the applications would reside on the network? No? Well, it's been said like seven billion times before and the problem is that the real trend is exactly the opposite one. Applications are becoming increasingly personal. And that, my dumplings, will just continue. Fine, it's just those personalized menus now (which generally are just annoying because it really pisses you off not to be able to find that one thing that you need for that one particular document whe
  • Don't know if this redundant or not, anyway - my take on the future of user computing lies in the ability of open source software to be downloaded on demand. Windows Update and apt-get in combination with the trend in virtualization are strong pointers in the future of computing. Users will access data that has an associated list of application handlers, these handlers will be cached locally for rapid loading, after they haven't been used for a while they will expire out of the cache until the next time the

  • MS will finally realize what they've done to themselves as a platform company by not supporting web standards. "My apps don't work when I use IE, but they work fine when I use ... ANYTHING ELSE."

    I suspect something more along the lines of Adobe AIR or whatnot will be more in line with what people are willing to put up with as far as web-based technology apps go. I don't want to have to have a working net connection just to reread an email I already received, or work on a document, etc.
    • From the day they decided they needed to crush Netscape and replace the web browser with something inherently tied to the OS that just so happened to not match everything else, they had been planning for this. The quote they sought (and still would like to see) was "My apps work when I use IE, but they don't work when I use ... ANYTHING ELSE." They wanted webapp developers to totally embrace VBScript/ActiveX controls and all sorts of goodies as they could think of that would keep people tied to an MS OS i
  • by LaughingCoder (914424) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @06:07PM (#21720670)
    ... so will the OS. This is because virtualization will render which OS is "underneath" moot. Applications will be delivered with a fully customized OS tightly coupled to it. Big, binary blobs of code+hostOS will be delivered and stored locally in multi-terabyte drives. Data will remain locally stored because nobody will trust having their data flying around the internet for anyone to see or steal. And applications (in the form of pre-installed VMs) will be stored locally so they can be used even when no internet connectivity is available. This, IMHO, is the next wave, and will take 5 to 10 years to play out. Once wireless connectivity is ubiquitous and can provide sufficient bandwidth (gigabit or more), *MAYBE* web-based applications will become more viable, though there still remains the security issue.

    If this prediction is true, then Microsoft is still in the driver's seat relative to Google. They are a player in the virtualization market, and they have applications that people will want, albeit in a slightly different form, so they can be run on their Macs, Linux boxes or Windows boxes.
    • by imsabbel (611519)
      So you are willing to give up all benefits of OSes (interfaces, ect)?
      Who the fuck is going to write those "tightly couples OS" for all applications?

      What you descripe seems like an awefully horrible step back to the days of dos (and let me tell you, it wasnt pretty at all)
  • The network cloud won't engulf 90% of computing, maybe 30-40%. Anything that's processor intensive such as high quality graphics production or code compiling will stay off the network for the most part (I'm sure few /.ers are insane enough to use distcc over the internet). Acceptance of over-the-net software will only happen where it makes sense to the user base.

    SaaS (software as a service) is a paradigm shift that most people (especially in business) won't latch on to. I prefer to keep my documents off

    • by epine (68316)

      The network cloud won't engulf 90% of computing, maybe 30-40%.
      For some definition of 90%.
      • Gaa! My mouse hit a crusty, and I blimped submit instead of preview. Let's try that one again.

        The network cloud won't engulf 90% of computing, maybe 30-40%.

        For some definition of 90%. I think it will break down according to the 80-20 rule: the 20% of applications that produce 80% of the value will remain on the desktop, while the 80% of applications that produce 20% of the value will migrate to the network. You outsource a large slice of your IT hassle, but only lose 20% of your activity for the duration

  • So far, I have immensely been enjoying the decline of desktop computing, and the irrelevance of Microsoft to which it will ultimately lead. Microsoft only knows how to play a zero sum game: for Microsoft to win, everyone else must lose. This business model is fundamentally incompatible with the Internet-based software ecosystem. Internet-hosted software is difficult -- maybe even impossible -- to monopolize. Even the mighty Google will have a difficult time taking over everything. Fortunately, Google d
  • Interesting read (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MLCT (1148749) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @06:44PM (#21720878)
    NYT covers the issue well. What struck me from reading it was the impression that Google do have a quick turn around on an idea and an ultrafast motivated and reactive set of employees. While reading the section on Grand Prix I couldn't help but imagine what the development path would have been for such an idea at MS - weekly meetings with 4th tier of management, monthly reports for the 3rd tier of management, quarterly presentations for the second tier of management - then a year into the cycle 1st tier find out about the project and bin it as balmer has been hurling some chairs about and he wants to copy something google or yahoo did 6 months ago.

    What also struck me was the tired old soundbites from MS representatives - "The focus is on competitive self-interest; it's on trying to undermine Microsoft, rather than what customers want to do," says Mr. Raikes of Google. Yeah Raikes - your development cycle (or rather complete lack of it for 3+ years after you had destroyed Netscape) on IE fits that quote very nicely. The words from MS all sound a bit wooden - they are trying to come out with all the "we are cool" "googleplex" mentality of roller blading employees who are living the dream - but it doesn't stick - we know how things go on in MS land - the coder who spent a couple of years jumping through bureaucratic hoops of reviews, reports and presentations to simply code the log off button on the start menu for vista tells us that. Gabe Newell got it spot on - MS has become what IBM was when MS were starting up - one vast bureaucracy - MS chided IBM in those days just as Google can rightfully do of MS today. I don't think Gabe extended the analogy, but it fits perfectly that IBM were attempting to cling on to the last of the "mainframe days" back then, just as MS are attempting to cling on to the "standalone desktop days" now. We are entering another paradigm shift - and the more MS say that we aren't the more it confirms that we are.
  • Call me back when I can write a document online without having to worry about the connection losing it for me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 16, 2007 @07:11PM (#21721070)
    Microsoft faces challenges from Google and Linux. That's two fronts. It is also in a battle with itself. The nonsense about trying to protect DRM using the OS is a real handicap.

    Thusfar Microsoft has obtained and held its position using the classic strategies of a monopolist. Those won't work against Linux because Linux can't be bought. Microsoft can't even cut off its air supply.

    Even if Microsoft wins its battle against Google, it can't kill Google because Google is a giant even if its online applications don't fly.

    Microsoft is in real trouble. Google and Linux are both disruptive technologies. As is typical with disruptive technologies, they will eventually become 'good enough' for the majority of Microsoft's customers.

    At this point, given the choice between giving my mother (who lives a thousand miles away) a computer loaded with Ubuntu or one loaded with Vista, I would easily choose Ubuntu. I suspect that many of us would make the same choice. Next year, things will change and more of us would choose Ubuntu. That's the way it works with disruptive technologies.

    I have a suggestion for Microsoft. Give the customers something that delights them and doesn't get in their way every five minutes. As it is, Microsoft is driving its customers into the enemy's waiting arms.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by UnknowingFool (672806)
      You forget Apple. Apple has something that MS and Google do not have. Wide consumer presence. Most people who are not computer savvy may not know Google or Linux but they probably know of Apple through the iPod and iPhone. They probably know that Apple makes computers even if they have never used one. While Macs don't have a huge market share compared to PCs, their numbers are growing. In consumer products like the iPod and iPhone, Apple is destroying Microsoft. With Apple, Microsoft has a competitor on
  • by JoeCommodore (567479) <larry@portcommodore.com> on Sunday December 16, 2007 @07:34PM (#21721184) Homepage
    A big problem is Microsoft is not just looking for internet search/data market they want the internet search/data market to run on and only be browsable by Windows (or something other that is totally MS or provides a revenue channel to MS).

    While the web apps department may be all OK with just service revenue and advertising the big wigs in other departments will make sure that the 'embrace and extend' goes into their on-line offerings in order to 'encourage' use of Microsoft enabled PCs and servers to fully utilize those services.

    I for one am very resistant into inserting intentional quirks and other bits of muck in my web apps to satisfy a non-standard approach to displaying HTML/CSS and help enable it to be more popular. Firefox, Safari, Konquerer, Opera, Galeon, etc. all render my pages fine with the standards, and I don't have to use MS servers, browsers or OSs (though they work fine as well, only not IE, but there are free alternatives).

    Also as far as services, from my point of view (Firefox on Linux) many of the MS technology based sites show up as like broken crap to me (does not support my browser, features not working, pages render poorly, etc.)

    Google gets it's high marks because they are not locking the customer (business or user) into a specific application or platform; got Linux, Xserve, MS IIS, that's OK, just add this and you are good. Browser? - is it up to date? Then you are good there too. Like many say of OS X, Google internet tools and results usually "Just Work" and if you start there you probably aren't concerned into looking for other places after that.
  • Google President Eric Schmidt thinks that 90 percent of computing will eventually reside in the Web-based 'cloud.'

    Current 'web applications' specifically prevent you from accessing 'the web' for security reasons, instead only allowing you to access the server you got the 'web application' from. This limitation is needed because if you're going to be running random untrusted scripts on your computer you want to restrict them hugely so they can't do anything nasty.

    I believe 90 percent of computing is b

  • by Craig Ringer (302899) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @08:25PM (#21721476) Homepage Journal
    Beyond the obvious issue of the need for continuous connectivity, there are some serious issues with hosted apps that make them much less attractive than they could be.

    The biggest one, blessing and curse in one, is that there's a 1:1 relationship between client app and service. The hosted app provider controls the client used to access the app as well, something that tends to result in smoother integration, but also a lack of choice.

    Consider mail. Few of us would like to have a specific mail client forced on us by an ISP - yet that's exactly what web mail providers do. For mail, people are happy enough to just move to the provider with a client they're happy with, but that won't be possible for all types of app. I'm very dubious about the unification of storage, communication protocol and client into a single entity.

    Web apps also make it harder to apply policy. How can you, with web apps, have a shared working directory with snapshots taken every five minutes (aged out progressively) that gets automatically archived into another part of your system & indexed at the end of the week? It's not easy, that's for sure. Businesses with access control requirements, data retention issues, etc also face issues.

    Even if the provider tries to take care of those problems, they'll have a hard time making it easy to integrate things like archival with the rest of your network.

    The admin also tends to lose insight into the system with web apps. If I hosted my business's mail with Google, I wouldn't get access to the mail logs, control over spam filter sensitivity, or other important facilities. That's not inherently the case, in that Google could offer these facilities, but in general web apps tend to take more of a black box approach.

    In short ... they're OK for consumer use and for specialized tasks, but for general work I doubt I'll be interested in web apps for quite a while.

    --
    Craig Ringer
    • by Animats (122034)

      A more fundamental issue with hosted apps is that the app might go away.

      It happens, even at Google. Remember Google Answers [google.com]? One day, Google just turned it off.

      Or the terms of service and pricing could change. If you're a Gmail user, you have no guarantee that Google won't start charging you tomorrow. Someday Google will have a down quarter, their stock will dive, and their management will be under pressure to find new revenue.

      The first one is always free.

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