The Economist's Ludwig Siegele opens up one of the most important questions for the next 10 years of software: What happens to Microsoft after Bill Gates leaves?
In Ray Ozzie's (and, perhaps, Microsoft's) view, Microsoft's new goal is the same as the old goal: dominate everything. But the battle has shifted to the "cloud" now. Complicating the matter further, Microsoft no longer has a technical leader, one who combines vision, tenacity, and introspection. Instead it has an aggressive, sometimes bumbling bloodhound of a CEO, Steve Ballmer.
Can Mr. Protect-My-Desktop-Monopoly-By-Whatever-Means-Necessary really push Microsoft to the future? Can Ballmer deliver on this goal? According to Siegele, Microsoft's goal:
...is to become the dominant force in the forthcoming era of cloud computing--or, to refresh Microsoft's original mission: "to supply services to every desk, to every home and to every hand."
To understand what that means, and the difficulties it poses Microsoft, start with the idea that computing is undergoing one of its great periodic shifts....Now communications is catching up with hardware and software and, thanks to cheap broadband and wireless access, the industry is witnessing a pull back to the middle. This is leading much computing to migrate back into huge data centers. Networks of these computing plants form "computing clouds"--vast, amorphous, delocalized nebulae of processing power and storage.
This is a huge opportunity for Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Amazon, and others. But only Microsoft brings a massive ball-and-chain to the party called the Windows desktop business, which accounts for the vast majority of its revenue and pervades its company culture. The very thing that makes Microsoft so successful may well ensure that it will play a bit part in the future of computing.… Read more