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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Microsoft - Bumpy Road Ahead

We recently covered about the emerging Future Of Microsoft and the issue of good talent that is leaving microsoft. Fred Wilson writing on the same theme expects customers to exhibit similar traits of not getting locked in with same product/technology forever -particularly where the switchover costs do not hold them back. He writes software is becoming "organic" and he believes Google started this movement. Google's free web service made people respond to in an emotional way. That created a phenomenon that drew developers and users to the Google franchise. Google opened up their APIs so people could build businesses on top of them. Now they have a whole ecosystem. This has happened with other software platforms too - Craigslist, Flickr, Skype, etc. He notes, Microsoft may want to be part of this "organic" software world, but its not in their DNA. Many of their leading technology minds get this new way of being and want to be part of it. So they leave, some to Google, many to do startups. Consumers get this too. They don't want to be locked in any more. Microsoft is the master of lock in. They want open software, open source, open potential. The Firefox phenomenon is a clear example of this this happening in the consumer market.Fred cautions that Microsoft's franchise is the CIO going forward because they are risk adverse and are the least likely to move to this new developing organic software model. But consumers will lead the companies they work for into this world whether they like it or not. And eventually people will be using wikis and web based email and calendaring apps in their offices and Office will slowly matter less and less.

My take : Wiki's, collaboration and the blogosphere all are certainly getting good traction at levels - all segments of enterprise and consumer included - and with the impending power of broadband and hosted models creating a new tapestry very different from what Microsoft is envisaging - one can note that microsoft has lagged behing in most of the new elements in this picture.Many think that hordes of cash, lock-ins and a lack of credible alternative to it would insure microsoft against any downturn in future - I doubt it - while microsoft may be creating froth in the consumer electronics sector- it is applaingly falling behind in its ability to be creative and seems to be losing touch in respect of making new roll outs win in the market - MSN portal, MSN search , decling attraction towards hotmail, the non starter called spaces.msn.com etc - all conclusively point to this. Glorious past is certainly no pointer to great success in future.

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