Broadband = Microsoft-Killer? - InformationWeek
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1/4/2005
04:48 AM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
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Broadband = Microsoft-Killer?

When Mike Azzara was talking to me about my signing up for InternetWeek back in 1997, this was the premise of the publication as he explained it: that the Internet, rather than any individual computer, was going to be the next standard computing platform.

When Mike Azzara was talking to me about my signing up for InternetWeek back in 1997, this was the premise of the publication as he explained it: that the Internet, rather than any individual computer, was going to be the next standard computing platform. Applications would no longer be written for Windows, or Unix, or some other operating system-—they'd run on the Internet.

Fast-forward five years. InternetWeek.com is now a web-only publication. Mike is now head of TechWeb.com, which publishes TechWeb, the 21 TechWeb Pipelines, including InternetWeek.com, and the one I edit, Security Pipeline.

Now, Mitch Kapor, Slashdot and the blog Everybody is Crazy make the same argument: Applications running on the Internet are the biggest threat to Microsoft monopoly.

Everybody is Crazy:

Most users have no desire to be the system administrators of their machines, and would gladly turn that task over to someone else for a nominal fee. As bandwidth increases, telcos, cable companies, and others will be in the perfect position to become application service providers for the average home user, and said average home user will gladly accept this, as long as the price isn't too high. I see this as almost inevitable.

With caching, smart usage of bandwidth, latency reduction strategies, etc., most users would hardly notice the difference between an application being provided remotely over a high-bandwidth connection and being provided locally by a spyware- and virus-infested home PC with inadequate memory.

In fact, given the above conditions, and a high-bandwidth connection, the ASP might actually seem faster to many users.

However, with Longhorn, Microsoft is trying to perpetuate the days of local computing, and I feel they are moving in the wrong direction. Like an off-balance fighter, the first time a company starts punching in the other direction, the momentum is likely to shift to the other fighter " in this case, cheaper, better-prepared applications such as Linux, Firefox, and other Open Source applications available for free.

The blog says that Microsoft will likely be a big player for quite some time, although the Internet-as-platform jeapordizes bloated software like Windows XP, and Microsoft will have to dance pretty fast to hang onto its monopoly.

Mitch Kapor, inventor of Lotus 1-2-3 and co-founder of Lotus Development Corp., makes similar points. He points out how Google Mail is not quite a forerunner of the trend to Internet-based applications replacing desktop apps.

Kapor currently heads up the Open Source Applications Foundation, which is developing "Chandler," an open source personal information manager program to compete with Microsoft Outlook.

There have been longstanding rumors that Google is planning a challenge to the Microsoft monopoly. Blogger Jason Kottke wrote that Google's primary business isn't really search, it's "building a huge computer with a custom operating system that everyone on earth can have an account on." And there have bee longstanding rumors, and circumstantial evidence that Google might be looking to market a Linux-based PC that would presumably have just enough intelligence to talk to applications running on Google's servers, where the real computing work would be done.

Mitch Wagner is, among many other things, editor of Security Pipeline.

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