Gates has acknowledged that his company has missed multiple opportunities to become the leader in technology areas such as Search (Google), rich-client applications using AJAX technology, web conferencing and IP-telephony (Skype) and two-way paging (RIM’s Blackberry), amongst others.
Ray Ozzie, who is acknowledged for the original concept and design of Lotus Notes, and now works for Microsoft, has warned Microsoft that they need to be alert and ready for the next technology wave. He believes this to be the development of Services, and Microsoft recent announcements suggest that their major offering in this area is going to be web delivered and enabled Office products, dubbed Windows Live and Office Live.
I am still not completely bought into the idea that consumers actually want to purchase their software products piecemeal over the internet. Pay a one time fee and download, yes, but run the application across the internet eith a web-based browser interface? I don’t think so. Not until the browser goes through a rehaul and comes more of a platform for delivering rich client applications. The browser core technology, HTML and HTTP is largely unchanged for the past 10 years. We need something new in this area to deliver rich applicaitons to users.
The largest potential in this area so far is Java’s Web Start Technology, that delivers client desktop applications across the internet and installs on your machine. The neat part about this technology is that it automatically ‘calls home’ to check for updates and downloads as required, so you can push new versions to your users. This technology I think has been underused so far, and offers the functionality that users are supposedly wanting right now.
Microsoft has already tried to offer us web based services and applications delivered from ‘pick n mix’ services – it was called Hailstorm (about 3 – 4 years ago?) and failed miserably. I wonder why Microsoft think this strategy is going to work now?