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Microsoft Businesses The Internet

Microsoft's Nightmare Scenario 362

unityxxx wrote to mention a article about Microsoft's nightmare scenario - the Web as the next platform. From the article: "The nightmare is inching closer to reality and Microsoft execs are apparently paying attention to the decade-old alert. As part of a management shuffle, Microsoft said Tuesday it would make hosted services a more strategic part of the company and fold its MSN Web portal business into its platform product development group, where Windows is developed. Another memo, called 'Google--The Winner Takes All (And Not Just Search),' is also making the rounds. This internal memo, written in 2005, argues that Google threatens Microsoft and the company's crown jewel, Windows."
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Microsoft's Nightmare Scenario

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  • by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Friday September 23, 2005 @12:57PM (#13630112)

    Digging in on the PC platform was a winning strategy, and still is at this point, but the rules will be changing sooner rather than later. When they do, will Microsoft be able to overcome its own inertia and innovate fast enough to stay in the game? Probably not, but the good news for Microsoft is that it doesn't have just has to acquire a company that can. As it's been said ad nauseum here by myself and others, Microsoft isn't about innovation...haven't been for a fact, whether they ever were is a subject for debate.

    As for when this paridigm shift will occur, it won't be able to until broadband access is as cheap, plentiful, and above all, dependable as electricity or running water. Givin the fact that many areas of the world are still having issues with those, I'd wager we have a while to wait before the Web-as-platform paradigm really takes off.
    • by rovingeyes ( 575063 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:03PM (#13630177)
      Microsoft is that it doesn't have just has to acquire a company that can. As it's been said ad nauseum here by myself and others, Microsoft isn't about innovation...haven't been for a fact, whether they ever were is a subject for debate.

      As you said it yourself, Microsoft just needs to acquire a company that can mount a challenge against Google. But mind you, not just any company. That means Microsoft have to have enough foresight, shrewd busineess sense, a bit of luck and good understanding of the industry and its trends. Before Microsoft, I don't know of any company that solely survived on buying others and expanding. Seems like pretty innovative to me!

    • Microsoft will be just fine for the moment. I agree with you 100%. To me, the article is mostly hype but worth a read.
    • The article seems to blame the problem on bad strategy rather than bad execution: Microsoft, however, didn't heed the warning. Instead, it embarked on a strategy--championed by Jim Allchin, who today heads up development of the next version of Windows--that was fanatically focused on the operating system.

      However it overlooks the point that Microsoft has extreme execution problems. Consider that even in the operating system "that was fanatically focused on" Microsoft lags Linux

      • Linux did Itanium first.
      • by InfiniteWisdom ( 530090 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:37PM (#13630562) Homepage
        No kidding about not sharing their billions with their employees... you're probably aware that Microsoft grades their employees' performance on a bell curve and pay raises depend on where you sit on the bell curve... one of my friends was ranked in the top 10% bracket and received a 1.5% pay increase in return. Given that the inflation rate last year was about 3.5%, that really amounts to a 2% pay cut in return for being a top 10% employee.
      • Microsoft's real problem is that with a stagnant company they can't motivate their employees; so all the good ones leave for places like Google.

        But when has Microsoft ever provided innovation on a technical level that lead to a successful product? I can't think of any such case. Everything is either a copy of something else, or purchased from someone else. Even DCOM is just a subset of DCE/RPC (which is now open source).

        Microsoft's problem is that, from the very beginning, they substituted acquisition fo
    • by slavemowgli ( 585321 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:17PM (#13630346) Homepage
      Why? As you say, much of the world doesn't have access to gas, water, electricity, telephone and all that, but doesn't that actually show that not all the world has to have access to something in order for it to be the next "big thing", so to speak?

      Of course, it would be good if all the world did have access to these things, but even though it's not the case, we not only do but in fact have become so dependent on these things that we can hardly imagine a life without them. It doesn't seem unreasonable to assume that broadband Internet access, and applications built on top of it (not applications as in "computer programs", but applications in a more general sense), will soon become... well, not quite ubiquitious, of course, as certain groups will probably not have an interest in these things (my grandmother, for example, while being quite fascinated by computers and the Internet has categorically said that she won't ever get one), but widespread enough that they will reach the same level of fundamentality (I hope that's a word *s*) that electricity, water etc. do.

      But to stay on-topic a bit, I think that M$ is, above all, showing one thing here: namely, that they still don't understand that not everything is "all-or-nothing" and that it's perfectly possible to coexist and compete without every player but one going bankrupt or being bought after a couple of years. It's understandable that they don't understand, of course, given their history (they were effectively granted a monopoly by IBM, and have since tried to maintain that monopoly at all costs and to also expand it into other markets), but it ain't true: it *is* possible to coexist.

      I wonder if they'll ever understand that.
    • good news for Microsoft is that it doesn't have just has to acquire a company that can

      If you assume this innovation will disrupt MS's core business, then it is a little more complicated. It not only has to acquire a company that can, but it has to let that company cannibalize MS's existing business. Historically, most market leaders have a hard time doing this.
      • Not only that, but most companies sooner or later realize that the "new" business is at odds with the "current" business. Sides are drawn and a fight ensues. The "new" faction usually looses.

        A very good example of this is when discount retailing became popular. Woolworths was the dominant retailer. Their major competitor "bet the company" on discount retailing and became K-Mart (before that they were a traditional retailer with a different name starting with K that I can't remember.) Woolworths also tried t
    • by mikeb ( 6025 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:30PM (#13631090) Homepage
      It's not just about web-based delivery, though Google's eye may be on that ball. A server farm delivering Open Office through a compressive technology like NX [] would be within Google's capability and, if it caught on, would make them Masters of the Universe (TM).

      That would be VERY scary to Microsoft, not to mention a whole bunch of other players in the market. NX delivers a pretty good desktop experience (if you aren't a game player) in around 5KB/s of bandwidth. If that were guaranteed virus-free, with backed-up storage for a modest monthly subscription - like a Hotmail or Yahoo but doing your computing not just your email - I know a lot of people who would sigh with relief, happily accept a lightweight thin client and throw out that hideous, malware-ridden fat-client piece of junk in the corner that they never understood and rarely worked properly.
  • by yagu ( 721525 ) * <> on Friday September 23, 2005 @12:58PM (#13630115) Journal

    From the post: as part of a management shuffle, Microsoft said Tuesday it would make hosted services a more strategic part of the company

    I remember a few (several?) years back, this is the very thing Microsoft was proposing as a new business model and technology approach for their products. Interestingly, it's almost as if they'd considered this but deemed it unnecessary in light of their near world dominance and there never were any developments around it. Now, once again they're running scared and this time the threat could be real. I don't doubt their tenacity and ability to respond but I do hope at some point here they stumble badly enough that by the time they get back up the playing field will have leveled (even if only somewhat).

    Interestingly in this case they're going to be playing catch up with a concept they first looked at.

  • by thatguywhoiam ( 524290 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @12:59PM (#13630134)
    N... Net.... Netsca.... damn, can't quite remember the name of that outfit...
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:00PM (#13630139)
    It's only a nightmare because there are free alternatives that do exactly what their software already does (and sometimes good enough to replace it for home users). But! Microsoft would *love* to host web-based application services (i.e. Office). It would enable them even greater control over the end-users and piracy and ends a lot of media creation and distribution costs.

    They can still hold their stranglehold on the OS market but they could also gain tighter and higher profits on their software.

    Will Google Office/Phone/Internet/Talk/Browser/etc take the OS market from Mircosoft? Who knows. But it could happen. If it doesn't, Microsoft better make damn sure that they are building the OS to be the best it can be to keep people from switching to GoogleOS and Apps.
    • Microsoft is trying to handle a lot threats at once. But the biggest one is really a combination of a number of other threats: Open Standards

      Microsoft can't support Open Document Format in Office because they would lose a good part of their customer base. Web apps using standards such as Javascript, HTML, CSS, etc. are also a threat (part of the reason why IE is so incompatible with some of these standards). Linux, and the resurgance of nearly POSIX-compliant environments is another threat.

      In every case, this means that it is far easier to support many different operating systems with a single application. So Microsoft is in trouble.

      The real nightmare is the standardization of the platforms and file formats that impact Microsoft markets. Web apps are only a small part of this.
    • It's only a nightmare because there are free alternatives that do exactly what their software already does

      Yahoo's new beta email app is very similar in functionality to Outlook, and it's free. (Obviously it doesn't replicate Outlook features like Calendar and others, but it's a step towards that).
    • It's a win if Microsoft cracks down on piracy. Microsoft can't afford to crack down on piracy so long as there are viable alternatives on the market without significantly lowering their prices. If they keep their prices as high as they currently are and crack down on piracy then they will lose a large amount of home users, especially outside of the US market. As soon as their user base, whether it's home or business, starts to slide then alternative suites will become much more legitimate to evaluate.


  • is that of the unknown, wouldn't their products actually working scare them the most?

    And yes, I am still grumpy about the forced upgrade to XP yesterday.

  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:01PM (#13630162)

    The BBC have an article on the same theme [] today.

    It's interesting that the article almost takes it as read that just about everything will become a service, and accepts the arguments from a senior marketing guy at a software-as-a-service firm apparently without question. I'm not sure I'd agree with that view; some applications have a lot of potential here, but AFAICS, others just... don't. What am I missing?

    • When the bandwidth becomes high enough, every app can be downloaded quickly. Every client app can become part of a service. They can all dial home to see if you've paid your app bill this month. I think software-as-a-service companies have had this vision for a long time. It just hasn't taken shape.
      • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:03PM (#13630818) Homepage Journal
        It hasn't taken shape for the same reason that most TiVos have lifetime subscriptions. People are fed up with corporate overlords nickel-and-diming them to death every month. Realistically, software as a service makes no sense. Anyone who says differently hasn't learned the five lessons of free software:

        1. Any software you can write can be rewritten and made available for free by someone sufficiently charitable with enough free time.
        2. There is a seemingly infinite number of charitable people with too much free time. We call them college students.
        3. Many people will find that the free software does everything they need, making the commercial software unnecessary.
        4. Given a sufficiently oppressive corporate ownership of a software product to drive free software development, the free software will eventually become better than the commercial alternative and people will switch in droves.
        5. A customer lost to free software tends to not come back to commercial equivalents unless there is a -huge- benefit. Thus the equivalent free software tends to eventually become dominant in that space.

        We're only just now beginning to see #4 and #5 come into play. For example, FireFox has clearly hit #4 with respect to MSIE. Linux has done a good job at chipping away at Microsoft in the server market. MySQL has left Oracle bleeding red (even though they're only at #3). Apache has decimated the market for commercial web servers like IIS. OpenOffice has significantly chipped away at MS Office in some circles (but not in the general user case yet). Audacity has become a mainstream app on home recording bulletin boards (even among non-geeks). The list goes on

        I'm not saying I think commercial software is dead. Far from it. But companies that treat customers like a revenue source (e.g. web services to replace software) are not a direction that can reasonably compete with open source. The only way to compete with open source is by doing a better job. Where web services -can- compete is by providing useful services that can't practically be provided by most individuals in their own homes---email, web servers. e-commerce sites, maybe even data backups.

    • Software already follows a service model. Most software packages you pay a yearly use fee. The old version of a lot of apps becomes gradually useless over time. With apps like photoshop, not so much, but money management software gets outdated really fast.

      Software is just better suited to be a service, since maintenance is the largest part of the cost, and maintenance is the very part that follows AFTER you make a sale. With services, maintenance is part of the service rental fee, making the business model
    • Exactly. Software as a service sounds great for some users, but what about the security concerns? I don't exactly trust that every employee of some software service company is ready and willing to protect my docs. Assuming that the service works such that all my docs are created and stored locally on my machine, will be compatability between programs? We already know how compatible MS Office is. Why would that change in a software-as-service oriented system?

      I'm just not with the soothsayers who think

  • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:01PM (#13630163) Journal
    Easy life over there at -- pull up old articles from 1996, replace "Netscape" with "Google", "Marc Andreesen" with "Larry Page" and "bring your dog to work" with "20% of employees time working on their own projects". The "nightmare scenario" line in the headline, both here and there, even comes out of a Microsoft memo from 1995.
    • by aftk2 ( 556992 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:25PM (#13630438) Homepage Journal
      And the funny thing is, back then, you had people claiming the same thing, that Microsoft was missing the boat - only this time, it's about hosted web applications, and then, it was about the internet (more specifically, the web). Back then, Microsoft was all a-twitter about digital, networked or Smart televisions.

      What does that mean? Well, skip ahead four years, and Microsoft has crushed Netscape, mostly due to actually creating a better browser. I'm not defending their monopolistic practices, but, having been a web developer since around 1998, I can remember distinctly loving Internet Explorer 5.0, especially when working on the Mac, and hating development for Netscape 4.x. Of course, now the inverse is true, with Gecko and KHTML browsers being (mostly) a pleasure, and Internet Explorer development a royal pain.

      My point? Microsoft has been late to the table before. But when they want to catch up, they can.
      • by Overly Critical Guy ( 663429 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:02PM (#13630805)
        Not specifically directed at your comment, but it sure is surprising how much Microsoft defending has grown in Slashdot comments each year. Five years ago, everyone saw Microsoft's transparent practices clear as day. Today, in any Microsoft article, you get a bunch of +5 upmodded apologists claiming "Gee, whiz, Microsoft is swell...they will overcome...Windows is just great and works like a well-oiled machine (once you've installed vast layers of anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall, and registry cleaner software)."

        Just because this threat to Microsoft was recognized in 1995 and overcome doesn't mean the article is a fluff piece. Google is a very, very real threat to Microsoft, is draining their employees, and killing their morale as Microsoft works overtime to update old cashcows while Google explores new territories. All Google has to do is release an online office suite that never needs to be installed and is always up to date, and Office will start to die off (see versus Microsoft CRM).

        Google is threatening their platform, and Apple is threatening their control over the digital media platform (and therefore Microsoft's bid to control the living room via media devices). Along with the creaking management structure, this is the beginning of a decline in their power.
  • The good news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:01PM (#13630164) Homepage Journal
    The last time it was Netscape. So they cut the legs out from under them. The good news is they can't do the same to Google. They've already set the default home page to MSN. But people still go to Google.
    • Well... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Momoru ( 837801 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:27PM (#13630465) Homepage Journal
      You realize that for the longest time used Google as it's search, same with, and Yahoo. As more and more companies offer the same search power as google (pagerank is no secret now) Google will need to make it's actual search better...which seems to be the ONLY thing they don't focus on these days. Just like Microsoft, they are happy to sit at the top of the heap and not innovate, meanwhile going down all sorts of other rabbit holes that have nothing to do with search... Microsoft still has an advantage in "telling" people where they should search by default. Google can be gone as quick as Netscape until they offer something truly unique.
      • What Google will keep offering is new ideas based on search, not better search. For example, they added local searching and tied it to maps. Mapquest and Yahoo offered it sooner, but Google did it better. They tied their search engine to email. Now they're adding printed books. One day they'll come up with a much more accurate way to search. But for now they can keep innovating on the fringes of the search itself.
  • It was about time (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kdahmani ( 728309 )
    Referring to "Another memo, called 'Google--The Winner Takes All (And Not Just Search),' is also making the rounds. This internal memo, written in 2005, argues that Google threatens Microsoft and the company's crown jewel, Windows." It was about time for Microsoft to feel threated, but is Google really doing a good thing? Google used to be the company that all techies loved, but is that still really the case?
  • by Skadet ( 528657 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:03PM (#13630178) Homepage
    The web is an infrastructure that lets our individual machines communicate with one another. I very much doubt the web will be a viable platform anytime soon, for bandwidth reasons if nothing else.

    I think about how I use programs like photoshop and flashmx when i'm developing web sites. There's no way those huge-ass programs are going to be hosted and downloaded/run on demand. On the other hand, I need connectivity to upload my work to the web and test/publish it. The internet facilitates a good deal of things we do, but there's no way it could be a platform anytime in my lifetime.

    It's like the relationship vehicles and highways have. Everyone owns their own vehicle, and they're responsible for the good running condition of that vehicle, and the highway facilitates the usefulness of that vehicle.
    • The web is an infrastructure that lets our individual machines communicate with one another. I very much doubt the web will be a viable platform anytime soon, for bandwidth reasons if nothing else.

      You might want to recheck that. It's been done before [], and it will be done again. [] (Use test:test for user/pass.)
    • There's no way those huge-ass programs are going to be hosted and downloaded/run on demand.

      Climb out of your box! There's no way those huge-ass programs need to be downloaded or run on your machine. They can run on a huge-ass server somewhere else with only screen, keystroke and mouse movements travelling over the 100 mbit pipe into your office. And, you can store the data files on your local hard disk if you like -- so you still have control over your data.

      Think about how the world will be when we a

    • It's like the relationship vehicles and highways have. Everyone owns their own vehicle, and they're responsible for the good running condition of that vehicle, and the highway facilitates the usefulness of that vehicle.

      This is great analogy. Imagine Google came along and said, "Hey, we have this fleet of shuttles that'll take you anywhere you want to go, just pay us a fare every time you ride." You think about it. Because of the scale of their operations, they could be a lot more reliable, but you wou
  • by It doesn't come easy ( 695416 ) * on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:04PM (#13630192) Journal
    For those who insist that Microsoft has not stymied but rather advanced personal computing, here's the best evidence yet that it ain't so. Had Microsoft been a real innovator, they would have invested in Internet technologies to their benefit back in 1995 and as such we would have likely been 10 years further down the road in terms of development and capabilities. But Microsoft, because of their monopoly position, chose to try and tighten their control across the OS and application space even further in an attempt to relegate the Internet phenomenon to an also ran status. Not only have they failed in this goal, they failed despite their best efforts (both legal and illegal). In spite of Microsoft's efforts the Internet is emerging as the dominant and preferred platform with open standards, open file formats, open source software, and uncontrolled by any single company.

    Let's keep it that way, shall we?
  • by Proc6 ( 518858 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:04PM (#13630196)
    Yeah that's what I want, all my applications to be server side web-based. That way I can't stop them when they "call home" and report back things like what I'm searching for on the net, the names of the files I'm opening. And I can't stop them from a hacker switching out a DLL on the server side suddenly corrupting or infecting my data. AV and firewalls become useless at that point, and the way modern apps try agressively to monitor what you do and call home, I'm not comfortable with losing the ability to control them.
    • Holy fearmongering for +5 insightful batman!

      Hint: Who the hell's forcing this down your throat. Don't like it? Don't use it.

      Hint 2: Like this is anything new fer chrikeys sake!

    • That way I can't stop them when they "call home" and report back things...

      Is it really "calling home" if they already are "home"? :)

      It seems that this would be the tradeoff for getting to use the application for free, as it is now with Gmail and Yahoo's new email app. Of course this is only just taking off and there could well be pay-for-use apps down the road.
    • Yeah that's what I want, all my applications to be server side web-based. That way I can't stop them when they "call home" and report back things like what I'm searching for on the net, the names of the files I'm opening. And I can't stop them from a hacker switching out a DLL on the server side suddenly corrupting or infecting my data. AV and firewalls become useless at that point, and the way modern apps try agressively to monitor what you do and call home, I'm not comfortable with losing the ability to c
  • by octavist ( 881608 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:06PM (#13630213)
    They could call it something catchy, like .NET!
  • by Reality Master 101 ( 179095 ) <RealityMaster101 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:07PM (#13630222) Homepage Journal
    Why do so many people assume that it's either going to be a services world or a local-CPU world? We've always had both in the past, and we'll always have both in the (medium-time-frame-30-year) future. I think we'll see more and more things move over to the net, but some things would just suck running over the net. I mean, who wants to do photoshop over the net? Who wants to do video editing? Just not going to be enough bandwidth, especially when HDTV editing becomes common. And high graphic games are just not gonna work with AJAX and Javascript.

    So no worries for Microsoft. There'll always be a place for the operating system. In fact, web services simply create more opportunities for Microsoft. The more useful a computer is, the better they do. Microsoft just has to be perceived as providing enough value beyond a dumb Net terminal that it makes it worth it to buy a computer. Given the price difference between the two, it's not that difficult a proposition.

    • There'll always be a place for the operating system.

      Desktops are used mostly for internet-based activities: e-mail, web browsing, file sharing... The local computer's OS is not as relevant as it used to be. Microsoft needs their OS to be important to the user to prevent switching in the long term. Whether it's dependance on client apps or a more proprietary web, they want people to want Windows. They're afraid that when the dependance drops, so will the customers.
  • Oh Noes! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Kiashien ( 914194 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:07PM (#13630233)
    Microsoft: Oh noes! People are actually using the internet! Google: Well.. duh... that would be why y'know.. people develop for the internet Microsoft: But internet software doesn't care about our stranglehold! Google: And? Microsoft: We'll throw chairs at you! and lawyers! Google: Now you're just being silly. Microsoft: We'll have Balmer do a "rally" at Google. Shirtless. Google: NO! ANYTHING BUT THAT! WE QUIT! WE QUIT!
  • Why don't they just buy Google?
    I mean now that Google is public what's stopping Microsoft just buying a controlling share and claim it as it's own?
  • AJAX (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MikeyTheK ( 873329 )
    I'm very excited about the possibility of this happening. However, before it does, I think we're going to need better and easier-to-use AJAX tools. Right now cranking out advanced web apps is mainly a text-editor proposition. There aren't any AJAX RAD/IDE tools, and there really aren't any good, easy-to-use, well-integrated tools that will generate the JS, HTML, CSS code necessary to make this happen...yet. Once it does, it will make life SO much easier. Among other things, JavaStations, which were a g
  • because:

    1. Consumers will still need -some- kind of OS even after their "computer" is roughly equivalent to a Tivo.

    2. The doomsday assumption is roughly based on "network provides the computing"/thin client kind of environment where I just don't see that happening everywhere with most devices.

    3. It ignores Microsoft's wise practice of marketing a chain of products that work pretty well together and block competitors at the same time.

    4. It assumes their monopoly is somehow threatened and it's not. Even if t
  • by m50d ( 797211 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:09PM (#13630259) Homepage Journal
    It wasn't designed for it. The web is meant as a documents platform. Trying to use it for applications is a recipie for security problems that'll make Windows look like fort knox, not to mention all the other problems that go with misusing a system like that. There are plenty of perfectly good systems for remote applications, X is great if you're willing to accept server-side execution, if you prefer client-side then for all its faults Java at least handles it with dedication and a modicum of security. Stop trying to make the web the medium for everything, there are 65535 other ports and superior specialised protocols.
    • there are 65535 other ports
      You know, you really should try to stop using port 0. You've been told before it's a bad thing!
    • by adubey ( 82183 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:08PM (#13630854)
      Well, after reading the comment you posted on this article, and I thought to myself, "how right he is... the web is a documents platform, therefore we should only do things we do with documents: read them". Now, I don't know how people could be so dumb, but some people have suggested we could do things like having discussion forums; doing online banking; interactively looking at maps; or even shopping online... and I think these people are fools! The parent poster is right, and all we should be doing on the web is reading documents

      Indeed, as the parent poster may have suggested... imagine the security problems with online banking. Surely, this is a web application which will never come to pass.
  • by Serveert ( 102805 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:10PM (#13630263)
    Microsoft talks about innovation.

    Google actually innovates.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Better phrased "Microsoft may innovate, but Google Invents".

      I think Cringely [] put it best when he wrote

      But there is another issue here, one that is hardly ever mentioned and that's the coining of the term "innovation." This word, which was hardly used at all until two or three years ago, feels to me like a propaganda campaign and a successful one at that, dominating discussion in the computer industry. I think <b>Microsoft did this intentionally</b>, for they are the ones who seem to continua

  • Isn't this what Gates "Road Ahead" book was about? Wasn't Oulook Exchange Online the first AJAX application? Didn't they originate the XML http request that most AJAX applications use?

    Nightmare? Hell. This is Microsoft's wet dream. Watch. They have a plan. They've had one for far longer than anyone else. Why do you think they put Netscape out of business? Because they're just mean?

    No. It's because they know that the web is the next platform, and they want to 0wn it.
    • This is exactly true, and the first comment I've read in public that understands this. Microsoft's strength is in developing developer tools. I just returned from the PDC, and they showed off Atlas, which is an whole Javascript API. This whole Web 2.0 / Ajax / JSON / Whatever is playing into Microsofts hand. They are going to build all the fundimentals for a web based application development enviroment, put it into Visual Studio, and they keep on winning.

      To be honest, their Atlas project was more robust
  • MSN could be what Windows could never be: a Net platform that allows developers to write and distribute their code quickly. Patches and upgrades that take weeks or longer to distribute with traditional software can be done overnight, simply because they're all under the same umbrella.

    Perhaps MS is realising that the WinTel combo -- a software platform based on the 8086 family -- is threatened by a new foundation to which applications can be written: the "virtual machine" of Javascript/DHTML with XSLT (an

  • by chia_monkey ( 593501 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:14PM (#13630314) Journal
    Yeah, I guess the web could be its own platform and ultimately give Windows (and Macs and Linux and...) a run for their money. Of course, that's assuming everyone with a computer has access to the Internet. Having your computer and running it purely as a web platform will do you no good if you don't have connectivity. The world isn't THAT connected yet. And even worse...just because you're connected doesn't mean you've got a broadband connection.

    I guess in a way, Microsoft doesn't have that much to worry about. Not now at least. But they'd better start planning for the future for when we do get world-wide broadband Internet access.
    • The world isn't THAT connected yet.

      It's getting connected. Big places that matter (big businesses and government) are that connected. The instant people start writing web apps as the default, the instant Windows becomes irrelevant to a company. At that point, you need an OS, but whatever OS is cheapest, easiest to lock down, and has a web browser that works, wins (or at least has a fighting chance for consideration). People start using webapps at work, they get used to it and start getting more co

  • I'd like to point out the obvious. You know...that Microsoft and Google are two completely different companies with two totally different ways of doing things. Microsoft has been mainly concerned with protecting its desktop dominance, mostly with Windows and Office. Google, which started as an Internet (search) company is continuing to grow in Internet-based outreaches. So if we truly are heading toward the web as a platform, yes, Microsoft should be scared and Google is probably sitting pretty.

    I'd point
  • Nothing new here. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JVert ( 578547 ) <corganbilly@hotmail.TIGERcom minus cat> on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:20PM (#13630386) Journal
    As soon as they gained victory over netscape their next plan of attack was to minimise the potential damage by web services. Their only solution was to break the standards so developers would have to choose sides or do mad trying to please both. Since they controlled the browser market anyone who chose standards over MS would obviously lose. If they created a web service for MS then there was no problem. MS is ready for thin clients, embeded devices, they would be on top of the next revolution. You can check your mail and file your taxes on your fridge, powerd by Microsoft.

    So it breaks down into a browser war again. He who controls the viewer controls the world.
  • by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:22PM (#13630414) Homepage Microsoft itself. If it doesn't pull off some magic for this next release, I think it's going to have to lose to more innovative and competent OSes: OS X and KDE/Gnome on top of BSD/Linux.

    Honestly, once you make the switch, the crappyness of Windows becomes so obvious that one wonders why people are putting up with it. I wholeheartedly regret not abandoning the Windows platform back when it was obvious Win98 wasn't much more than a GUI-glorified DOS. Biggest mistake I've made, in terms of lost productivity and expense of maintenance.
  • nightmare for us too (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:23PM (#13630424)
    Microsoft's nightmare scenario - the Web as the next platform.

    Sounds pretty damn scary to me, too.

    • Software that depends on a working internet connection
    • Service outages completely out of your control
    • Platform issues all over again (Mac vs Linux vs Windows 2k vs Windows XP, Firefox vs Explorer vs Opera, JVM issues, etc.)
    • No customer-controlled version control (want to stay on Powerpoint 2007 Service Pack 1 because SP2 breaks your slides? Too bad! Not upgrading your app because in the next 24 hours you have a million dollar client proposal? Sorry, your app service provider wants to silently roll out a "bugfix" that causes problems for you)
    • Having to license software yearly, or go through byzantine activation procedures (Quark XPress 6.0 activation, anyone?) name a few problems individuals and corporations will have.

    Why does everyone try to make the web more than what it is- an interactive information platform? Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you SHOULD.

    • by Pastis ( 145655 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:14PM (#13630915)
      > Software that depends on a working internet connection

      Making things that depend on stable electricity supply was out of thought some decades ago. Today nobody will question to create a device that requires a power connection to function.

      Requiring a network connection to work won't be a problem in the (hopefully near) future. In fact already, I do most of my work on the Internet today: phone, mail, banking operations, etc...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:24PM (#13630431)
    Microsoft is boring. When's the last time microsoft produced a cool product that captured your imagination? What is vista? why should I care? office 12 ? Menus are now "ribbons" .. woo hoo
    I can't wait to install that baby and stay up all night playing with it and then show it to all my friends and family.

    When I read "google" in a headline, I pay more attention...I am thinking "what cool thing has google com up with now?" google earth, cool , installed it, showed it to my elderly parents and they were impressed; Adwords,Adsense - cool how can I earn some extra bucks playing with this.
    google wifi? google tv? sounds interesting. Go Google.

  • by petrus4 ( 213815 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:26PM (#13630452) Homepage Journal
    ...and this is what's hurting them. Not what their competitors are doing.

    In The Science Of Getting Rich, Wallace Wattles talks about how money is primarily made on the creative plane rather than the competitive plane; where the focus is on solving problems or adding real value to people's lives, not on knocking everyone else out of the race.

    Microsoft's biggest problem in this regard is that everyone is seen as an enemy, and everything is seen as a threat. If Steve Ballmer actually had a brain in his head, he might realise a couple of things:-

    1) Microsoft CAN'T be everywhere at once. It isn't possible. They can't be developing new operating systems, upgrading Office, creating development software, and conquering the Web all at once.

    2) Because of 1, other companies are going to be in some computer-related niche somewhere.

    3) While Microsoft are busy upgrading Windows or Office, if they want to have some kind of online service, what they could do is what I saw Yahoo doing a few years back. Instead of re-inventing the wheel with their own search, outsource to Google as a backend. Google are still going to have their own site, of course, but what this would mean is that Microsoft could market their own content (syndicated news and so on) on top of Google's search, and if Microsoft's extra content was good enough, they might find that MSN became more popular than Google's plain site anywayz.

    4) In doing 3, Microsoft would still have a web presence, (which they want) people could keep using Google, (which they want) and both companies would make money. The reason why Steve Ballmer wouldn't accept an idea like this is because he is insistent on Microsoft completely cornering any and every market it enters, and if they keep doing this, eventually they will end up with nothing.

    There are other reasons why Steve Ballmer should be fired, as I've said before...but the monopolistic attitude is the main one. If he is allowed to stay in charge and maintain it, it will eventually destroy the company, and possibly hurt a lot of other people in the process. The bottom line is that, contrary to the popular opinion on Slashdot, there was a time when Microsoft actually did do some genuine good...but with Ballmer at the helm, that is no longer possible. All he cares about is monopoly and economic self-preservation...not about providing a service.
  • by Kiashien ( 914194 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:27PM (#13630458)
    Well, see, Google is valued at some 30 billion odd dollars. And is considered overpriced by most investment firms.

    If Microsoft bought all of that, they would immediately lose a large amount of money, as they would have to buy out all of that stock, which would plummet in price if it was known that Microsoft bought it. Google isn't worth anything unless its owned by google- they're valued due to the whole "trust" thing. Plus, this assumes that over 51% of the available control share of the company is available. Publically traded doesn't automatically mean that a controlling margin is possible to aquire.

    So yes.. it's possible that Microsoft could buy Google, but it'd be damned hard without risking alot of money, and could even be seen as illegal due to anti-trust laws (however shaky they are).
  • Web services aren't going to fly if consumers (and business consumers) don't like the idea. Has anyone got around to asking them? For a start, web services presuppose a level of infrastructure and sophistication that only the very wealthy currently enjoy. That isn't likely to change for decades, so what are Microsoft going to do until then? I guess web services may just turn out to mean a subscription model for MS Windows. Sigh.

    Meanwhile ... out in the boonies, all over the world ... folks are doing very
  • by Kurt Gray ( 935 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:39PM (#13630584) Homepage Journal
    When a company first goes public people are excited and the possibilites are limitless. But as time goes by Google will be increasingly pressured to cut costs, lose the fat, concentrate on the core revenue earner (ads) and kill off any development projects that are not generating revenue, and maximize the revenue of popular features like Google Maps (expect to see advertising attached to the maps sometime in the near future).

    What it comes down to is Google sells ads. That's its core business. Google is a media company. Reinventing a company is expensive and dangerous, few survive reinvention, that's why Google will always be a media company and Microsoft will always be a software company and Ford will always sell cars.
  • by hellfire ( 86129 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `vdalived'> on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:42PM (#13630621) Homepage
    See, what the slashdo community calls "okay" and what Microsoft calls "okay" are not the same thing.

    Slashdot see's work as work. You got to work, come up with a new idea, change a very small pocket of the world, make a paycheck and go home. This is their idea of fine and after Google gets done with MS this is exactly where MS will be, a company that is smaller but makes software, turns a profit, and goes on their merry way.

    Microsoft see's work like any major company. We need growth, greater profits, more control, higher market share, more more more! If you aren't, you are either shrinking or just about to, because you won't be able to get capital if you aren't growing. The stock market is all about growth. Companies need to be turning more and more profits. If you aren't no one buys your stock and you don't get any capital.

    The web will be a platform, not the platform. As a platform its far cheaper to develop and companies retain more control of their own creations if they develop it themselves. They create the application they want, market it to their niche, or use it internally to cut costs, and completely cut microsoft out of the equation. You can't use it for everything, but that's the point, there really isn't one answer for everything out there. Microsoft has been pushing their one size fits all philosophy but corporations are outgrowing that, like children outgrowing their shoes.

    So as more web platforms are developed, fewer people buy windows solutions for their specific tasks. Some companies find that web based solutions may work on Linux or Mac, and decide to switch. Not everyone will do it, but there will be options, and corporations will take it.

    Then Microsoft will lose revenue. They'll shrink. Windows will not be the choice for everyone. They'll scale back to a majority player, maybe retain a #1 status, but not the same dominant force. They'll effectively lose money and control. Microsoft is basically afraid of losing control and losing money. In that way they won't be fine. They won't be "Microsoft, ruler of the computer universe." Anything that threatens that is not fine to them.
  • "the Web as the next platform"

    I have never known a business person who would allow confidential letters to be typed in such a manner that they travel outside the company while being prepared. The same applies to all company data.

    It's possible to buy a laptop for $500, and a desktop computer for $200. There is no financial pressure to rent software. Open Office 2.0, out soon, is all that 98% of companies need.

    I have never known a business manager who would allow an important letter to travel anywher
  • by Cyno01 ( 573917 ) <> on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:48PM (#13630673) Homepage
    For some things, having the bulk of the app on a central server is definitly the way to go. I think a great example of this is Google Earth. Client side app for acessing the server data. Since you cant access it all at once theres no need to have the, probably, TBs of data on the local machine. On the other hand, having say, a word processor on a server would be a waste of bandwidth. Although it would be feasable if office weren't several GB, thats another thing all together...
  • by bill_kress ( 99356 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:03PM (#13630812)
    Front page of todays WSJ had a great article on MSFT. It's a tale of two or three individuals that are making a change in the way MSFT develops software. There is some great stuff in there.

    They are trying to consolidate the platform into a small core with more of an add-in technology--it looks like they are starting over with a different core based on an enterprise-only version of NT.

    They also had some great new procedures like continual builds and automated testing. (Can you imagine that those are NEW in Microsoft??? What kind of stupid kid-games have they been playing???)

    One concept I really liked was BUG-Jail. When too many bugs are found from a single developer, that developer is not allowed to write code for a while. They didn't say what they did with 'em, but I think an appropriate task would be to put them on the QA team for 6 months.

    I wonder if some of the changes mentioned in this article are more a result of this restructuring...
  • by TomorrowPlusX ( 571956 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:13PM (#13630904)
    Let me know when I can reliably use the keyboard shortcuts my hands have memorized over the last ~15 years. As in, command-shift-s to save as a new file. If I do that in a web app, what happens? Well, perhaps my browser tries to save the html file I'm viewing, not save the file I'm remotely editing. Or command-f -- what happens? Oh, the browser looks for matching text in the page, not the app.

    And I know that you can make custom command shortcuts that the *app* not the browser responds to. But that's retarded. I have to now think of my shortcuts like nested namespaces? Is this the mnemonic for the hosted app or the host? No way.

    ZUL is the best bet here, I and I applaud that effort. But traditional HTML web apps simply don't cut the mustard. They aren't applications, in my mind, if they don't behave the way applications have behaved for 20 years. And frankly, it's not like I need to just get with the program and accept the new. The new sucks, it isn't as good as what we've got today. I refuse to adapt to an inferior process.

    Wake me up when they can make an app as rich as Flash MX, or Photoshop, or XCode run in a browser.
  • Google smoogle. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by katorga ( 623930 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:16PM (#13630933)
    Google is currently a marketing firm. If Google moves into the "web desktop" world and continues to be a direct marketeer, they will not please consumers for long. Business users, due to looming privacy and information security laws, will be prohibited from storing PII or other confidential data on 3rd party, public systems.

    The one's to watch are firms developing toolsets like those of and then selling local, turnkey solutions for businesses to host in their own data centers. MS has been talking about a subscription model for a decade now, and they could just as easily move this way.

    BUT...hubris is a mighty nemesis. MS's current leadership is focused on monopoly above all else, and this limits their freedom of movement and ability to develop cool stuff for the sake of developing cool stuff. Everything is developed within the prism of how does this reinforce the monopoly. Bring a new breed of internet-savvy,leadership into MS, who can ignore monopoly to develop unbundled, boutique products (high margin, high "it-factor")and you will have a monster on your hands.

    To be brutally honest, Google offers me nothing that I just "can't live without". They offer nothing that I have not seen before, although they do have elegent implementations. The best thing I can say about Google is that at least their directmarketing ads are not as annoying as Yahoo!, but at the end of the day they are a direct marketing firm whose sole purpose is to monitor my behavior and bombard me with ads. I despise that business model.
  • by Burstgoof ( 644178 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:23PM (#13631018) like turning on your TV, we will know that MS competitors free-but-advertisement-laiden services have transformed the web into a platform. Remember, the Google business model centers around advertisement, and so do the business models of most major television networks. That's not to say that software as a service isn't the new paradigm... but service as a platform is quite a ways off, and if it sucks because it's just like television, we should have seen it coming.
  • by sprocks ( 515322 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:33PM (#13631137)
    This is equally a problem for desktop Linux acceptance. As Linux pushes for the desktop, the desktop moves to the network ... no place for Linux to land if the desktop is gone. Of course, Linux might drive the lightweight access device but this is a far cry from Linux on the desktop.
  • by mfterman ( 2719 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:39PM (#13631228)
    Everything looks like a web service. I do not believe that Google is the end all and be all of computing, any more than I think that Microsoft is the end all and be all of computing either. My own feeling is that once we get the "the Network is the computer" sort of stuff out of our thinking and realize that actual usage is going to be some balance of locally hosted programs and data and Web-based applications and data, then we'll be able to make real progress.

    Google Maps work because people don't want to allocate terabytes of storage for maps of the world. Web-based mail and homepages work because most people don't want the work of maintaining their own mail servers and web servers.

    However that doesn't apply to an office suite, when you get down to it, or something using a local database on your machine. There aren't a huge number of advantages to hosting your office suite on a remote server and pulling the apps down the network when you want to run them, and there are a number of downsides.

    I'm not saying that Google isn't going to become a major player in the web services business, or that MSN in time won't become an equally big player. But what I am saying is that locally hosted applications aren't going to go away either, and ultimately, the security of the PC depends on the security of the operating system running on it.
  • I don't buy it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mstone ( 8523 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:45PM (#13631307)
    Sure, web apps may present some threat to Microsoft, but I don't see them as a nightmare scenario.

    What I consider the first part of MS nightmare scenario is working itself out in Massachusets right now: the state government has established a policy on open formats and protocols that wipes out Microsoft's ability to lock people into applications. The second part will start rolling in within the next five years, as Open software starts to establish itself on the corporate desktop.

    Microsoft's main profit center is the symbiotic lock-in between Office and Windows. Those two business units support all the other development Microsoft does. People buy Windows in order to run Office, and they buy Office because, among other things, they have to buy it to maintain the investment they've sunk in thousands of documents over the years.

    Micorosft got rich targeting the corporate desktop, because that's the low-hanging fruit of the software industry. It offers large numbers of machines all doing basically the same thing. The required feature set is well-defined, and it tends to remain stable over the years. They managed to hold that market by locking users into Office with proprietary formats, and by making Windows a more or less necessary requirement for running Office.

    Thing is, OSS is heading for the very same market, because once again, it's the low-hanging fruit of the industry. It's so easy to build a positive feedback cycle around an office suite that you'd almost have to work *not* to do it.

    OSS applications are on the leading edge of being mature enough for regular desktop use, and as more people adopt them, you get more pressure to make them even more mature. Sooner or later (and getting sooner all the time), OSS products will be be seen by the regular public as suitable competition for Office and Windows.

    When that happens, Microsoft's main revenue stream will be under attack by a set of products that can't be killed by normal business methods. And to be perfectly honest, Microsoft has a lousy track record of trying to diversify into other markets. Its core markets will start drying up, and it won't have any new markets to move into.. certainly not at a level that will replace what it's losing from its core markets, at any rate.

    When the money goes, so does the support for peripheral development, experimental products, and just plain 800-pound-gorilla domination tactics. Microsoft won't have the resources to fight an indefinite war against Google, try to edge its way into the online music market, subsidize its Xbox foothold in the console market, and so on. It will have to tighten its belt and fight to hold its ground, and sit around watching opportunitiues pass by because it just can't afford to take a strong, committed risk outisde its core market.

    *That's* Microsoft's biggest nightmare the way I see it.
  • by rtrifts ( 61627 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @05:18PM (#13633345) Homepage
    Google as a real threat to MS' core business? This is alarmist nonsense.

    The true threat to Windows continued prosperity is the Xbox 360 and the PS3.

    PC sales have been dominated by growth since 1998 in two sectors:

    1 - Home PCs
    2 - Notebook sales (which has just this past year also shifted to personal use notebooks and away from business use notebooks as the main growth factor in main growth)

    Business desktop sales no longer lead market growth and there is no reason to believe that is going to change anytime soon. There is simply no killer app which requires it. There are none on the horizon either.

    The new sales of personal use PCs critically depends upon continued hardware evolution and "killer apps" to fuel demand for those platform upgrades. It is those upgrades which is the source of all Microsoft's future growth.

    Home sales rely upon PC games as their primary killer app with evolving hardware requirements. It's that simple. Reduce demand for that natural hardware churn and you have a REAL problem with your bottom line in Redmond.

    And that business is seriously imperiled.

    Make no mistake: PC Game developement of Triple A titles is essentially dead in the water. And I don't mean maybe. I mean STONE COLD FUCKING DEAD. It's a mere FRACTION of what it was even five years ago. Piracy is the perceived problem and the publishers have bailed en masse from funding development for the PC platform in favour of the PS3 and Xbox.

    We are NOT in a market lull in PC games. We are in a wholesale abandonment of the market by hundreds of game developers and virtually every software publisher. It's been happening for three years and the effects are really starting to show up now. From here on in for the next 36 months - it only gets worse and worse.

    Introduce Windows Vista? To that market? Dream on guys. Dream on.

    Without new PC Games fueling demand for new PCs - there is a vastly reduced need for new operating systems. Microsoft's sales of Windows Vista OS are already sharply imperiled.

    If Redmond wants to worry - worry about that. Google is a hiccup in history. The disappearance of the renewable killer app which has fueled continuous platform upgrades, on the other hand, is a grave and serious problem for the entire PC industry.

    They's better hope business takes to Skype in a hurry - or the whole industry is in for a wave of depening red ink and contracting sales.


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