Mike writes, Bandwidth is Microsoft’s enemy!!!. This article Slashdotted heavily makes some neat statements about the growing importance of bandwidth and how this may influence the computing environment of future and how Microsoft is underprepared to face the emerginf future. Excerpts with edits and my comments added:
More users than ever use broadband connections at home these days. Overtime, these connections will do nothing but get faster. With cramming of more information down the same pipes, and new options like fixed wireless and fiber to the door becoming available, connectivity options for the average consumer are ever-expanding, and with them, the speeds available. This spells the doom of the modern computer, and the modern operating system as we know it. This changed environment does spell the end of bloated, leviathan operating systems like Windows XP in its present form, and unless Microsoft is very nimble, it could spell the end of the Microsoft monopoly.
At present,– the average person, in charge of a machine of such complexity that it can calculate anything he or she would want to know in mere seconds. This is almost an untenable situation; this average person often has no idea how to fix the computer when it breaks, and no idea even how to perform the most basic maintenance on it to prevent such breakage. It’s also vulnerable to hackers, phishing schemes, and hosts of other plagues.With a car, for instance, this exposure to complexity is a necessary state of affairs. With inevitably increasing bandwidth, this is definitely not a necessary state of affairs for computers, and the time of the personal computer as we know it will soon be at an end. 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, who would accept this if offered at reasonable price. This is 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.
Based on these, 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 they are moving in the wrong 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.
Not that Microsoft couldn’t also dominate this new bandwidth-based market of remote applications – they very well could. They have deep pockets and lots of research talent. But that’s not the direction they are moving, and not the direction they want to move. Like the RIAA with online music, they will resist this outcome to the end. They recognize innately that once it’s not up to a billion individual users tied to the Windows upgrade path what operating system they use, companies will make the decision as to which is the most secure, most network-centric, stable and bug-free platform for providing applications to their customers – and this platform will probably not be Microsoft-based. In a world of unlimited bandwidth and remote applications, the operating system doesn’t matter, and there’s no lock-in. In such a world, Microsoft loses its monopoly, and the consumer wins. This is why bandwidth should scare Microsoft more than any other company.
Update for clarity:
The “network is the computer” was a false start because the bandwidth was not there. Now, it is getting to be there – and with spam, spyware, adware, phishing schemes, increasing viruses, the average user is way out of his league in dealing with the challenges of modern computing. Long past are the days where one could leave a Windows 98 machine (or Windows 2000, or XP, take your pick) connected to the Internet for days at a time, unpatched. With spyware, adware, malware of all stripes dominating the news, and the average user’s computer, people will be much more inclined now and in the near future to use an ASP model. Increasing bandwidth and freely-available, excellent open source software gives Linux and FOSS apps inroads they would not have otherwise had, as the average user is snapped out of the endless Windows upgrade path. Cool,Neat & Well presented point of view - almost flawless!!