Thursday, November 06, 2003

Microsoft hype and the next Flash killer
I find it interesting what Microsoft is doing lately with all the hype for products that are years away from production. I think it's mainly a move to stifle the competition with a lot of alpha/pre-alpha software. If you get enough people to believe that you're going to release the next greatest thing, then people just may stick with you. Microsoft seems to assume that the competition (mainly Linux at this point) is simply a copy-cat machine, with Microsoft playing the part of one of the last innovators left. I find this point of view interesting, considering many accuse Microsoft of the same thing. Is Linux just taking Microsoft's model one step further by making everything Open Source? Microsoft has made the PC a commodity through adopting a lot of open standards and then taking it from there. Linux is doing much the same thing, only this time around the work is being distributed all around the world and in a completely open manner. Large and mid-sized companies can actually contribute to an Open Source project directly rather than pay a license fee for the same software that they need to run their business with. This approach could alleviate the problem of having so many software vendors hold a gun to a company's head in the form of bad license schemes and higher prices. When you think about it, many vendors these days don't count on software or hardware to make them much money. The money comes from services and that is no different with the Open Source business model. Companies still need help implementing the software and keeping it running. What companies don't need are software vendors that dictate where the customer should go in regards to future software development.

On another issue, Mary Jo Foley of Microsoft Watch, has an article on Microsoft's “Sparkle” project. Sparkle is supposed to be the tool (IDE?) that allows Longhorn developers to write their XAML applications with a nice GUI tool. So, is Macromedia a target as Foley's article suggests? I don't know. What I do know is that there seems to be two conflicting sides within Microsoft: those that want to make the best platform on the earth and those that want to dominate in every area of technology that is possible. You can't create a great platform that encourages independent developers to make new software that runs on your platform and then try to crush them with competing products of your own.

P.S. Longhorn is geared for the latest and greatest hardware expected around 2006. How many companies and organizations are realistically going to adopt an OS whose requirements are so hefty? It will be many years before a decent percentage of corporate and education customers go with Longhorn. Let's also not forget that a lot of countries can't afford computers that are even few years old. They're not likely to adopt an OS like Longhorn for an even longer period of time, if ever. I see an opening for a less resource intensive competitor to step in and steal business here, just as Microsoft did to the competition in its early days.
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The Colonel