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InfoWorld's Crystal Ball Predicts the Future of Microsoft 376

museumpeace writes "InfoWorld executive editor Galen Gruman has brainstormed five different scenarios for Microsoft in the coming decade and solicits the reader's vote on which is more likely. Does it tank? Does it go open source? Does it out-Google Google? Does Ballmer really fill Gates' shoes?"
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InfoWorld's Crystal Ball Predicts the Future of Microsoft

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  • by larry bagina ( 561269 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:03PM (#26258409) Journal

    does it blend?

    • by jag7720 ( 685739 )
      Or does it really matter?

      Microsoft is becoming more and more irrelevant in the computer world... and yes, even though they have 90% market share they are becoming irrelevant.

      Forcing people to buy your product doesn't make you the best.

      Ballmer doesn't fit and will leave MS... but MS will try to keep their MS tax by making their products available only online and a pay as you go.
      • by RightSaidFred99 ( 874576 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:14PM (#26259147)

        Haha. You are truly Captain Wishful Thinking. You people that think if you come on a board with a bunch of like minded "thinkers" and say something, that makes it true. "Microsoft is irrelevant!" "See how I've made my hatred known by saying something nonsensical and dismissive of an entity I hate!?". You just did the equivelent of a 13 year old girl's "wha-EVA!"

        If you hate MS that much, a better tact would be to not underestimate the enemy in your little nerd battle. They're not irrelevant, to say they are is laughable and shows how provincial and limited your experience in the computing industry is.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ubrgeek ( 679399 )
        Frankly, people said the same thing about IBM during their "decline" in the '80s. IBM was "the one" - the old saying was "no one ever got fired for buying IBM" and only with the rise of MS did the word "IBM" get swapped for "Microsoft." And yet IBM is still a player in the research and sales areas. Last year they held the record for most U.S. patents earned in one year. They seem to meet or beat projected profit each year. And, most importantly, they still have continuous revenue from annual maintenance, e
    • I doubt too many people care. Just as long as someone tries it!

  • by Spazztastic ( 814296 ) <spazztastic@gmai ... minus herbivore> on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:03PM (#26258413)
    The Magic 8 Ball has been on top of this for years... Outlook not good.
    • Crap, I fumbled over the quote in a hurry for a frist proast. The line is actually Outlook not so good. You get the point, though.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by edalytical ( 671270 )

        Reply hazy, try again. Just kidding without a doubt we get your point. I mean all signs point to yes, most likely the average /.er can get the point. Yes - definitely, it is certain and it is decidedly so. You may rely on it. At least, as I see it, yes.

  • by AltGrendel ( 175092 ) <ag-slashdotNO@SPAMexit0.us> on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:10PM (#26258493) Homepage
    Why no, not really.

    Why do you ask?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    My cock and non-crystal balls predict the future of Micro$haft. Specifically, they predict that the cock will get hard and fuck beta testers I mean customers up the ass with no lubrication, meanwhile the non-crystal balls will be slapping against the customer's perineum due to this fucking motion. The customers won't like this, especially the no-lube part, but feel too committed to Micro$haft to switch and besides, all of these problems will be fixed Real Soon Now because the next version of Windoze is go
  • by not already in use ( 972294 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:12PM (#26258519)
    2009 will be the year of the Windows desktop.
  • by Whuffo ( 1043790 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:13PM (#26258535) Homepage Journal
    I'd say that the shark has been jumped already.
  • Bollocks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:17PM (#26258567) Homepage Journal

    What a bundle of bollocks. I've read better in /. comments.

    My vote? None of these. They're all in the "dumb and dumber" category.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Did you click through to the descriptions of each? Two of them actually make some sort of sense. (The rest don't.) I can see MS going into a slow decline, or surviving without adapting much. Of course, that assumes that Windows 7 doesn't suck anywhere near as much Vista when it comes out - if it does suck, Microsoft might as well find themselves a black hole to go jump in, because Linux is becoming a viable alternative even for Joe Six-pack.

      On another note, every time I see the phrase "cloud computing" I

      • Did you click through to the descriptions of each?

        Does anybody?

        I intended to print the article to read on the train, but I wasn't going to do it six separate times, no wai!

      • Re:Bollocks (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:48PM (#26259585) Journal
        because Linux is becoming a viable alternative even for Joe Six-pack.

        Linux is becoming viable for people who just want to surf the web or write term papers. Microsoft is sufficiently entrenched in the enterprise and SMB market, and will continue to do just fine. Linux might be good enough for stand alone home desktops, but it lacks polished tools to ease enterprise deployment. I understand that they are there, but they aren't mature. Linux needs a Group Policy equivalent that is as polished and easy to use as Group Policy. Linux needs an Exchange server equivalent that integrates with an LDAP directory. Once those two are up and running, then maybe people can start talking about Microsoft coming tumbling down.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Exactly. More wishful tinking by Microsoft bashers. What a silly waste of time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:23PM (#26258621)

    MS will continue to force OEM installations on the market, non-it companies will still be afraid of FOSS and MS lobbyists will still do their part on locking down IT departments in public sectors. (In even some of the most "socialist" countries Windows is still used on 99% of desktop PCs in public (school, administration) services, where no special software is needed.

    Cloud computing, Web 3.0, "web-bases OSes (!)" and whatnot buzzwords won't change that.

    What we could hope for is that the Recession will create focus on cost linked to software licenses, and more focus on saving old hardware. (With software needing updating.)

    The greatest thing that could happen is that MS invented some 100% waterproof way of securing Windows against piracy (of Windows itself). Ofcourse, *if* that would happen, they'd just drop the prices substansually in 3rd world contries to regain the lost marked share. (Just look at the netbook rebate. They had to loose half the market shares before slashing prices)

  • What "cloud?" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:27PM (#26258661) Homepage

    Remember "grid computing"? Remember "application service providers"? Remember how that was supposed to change everything? Right.

    The current appeal of "cloud computing" is that some companies are willing to give it away to get market share. That won't last. Google is cutting back on their freebies. The day is probably coming when "Google Apps" won't be free. Gmail is already a paid service for businesses. Google runs those services mostly to cost Microsoft money.

    As a business, "cloud computing" looks a lot like shared web hosting. The price competition is fierce and the service levels aren't very good.

    A few niche applications have been outsourced well, like "Salesforce.com". In fact, that's the leading commercial outsourced application. But Salesforce doesn't compete with Microsoft.

    None of this looks like a real threat to Microsoft.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MpVpRb ( 1423381 )

      I can imagine a niche for cloud computing, maybe even a big one. But...my crystal balls say that it will not completely dominate computing. No way, no how.

      I want more control of my computer and data, not less. I want to decide if and when to change versions of software.

      Imagine waking up one morning, at the peak of panic on a late project, only to find that all your cloud apps have been "improved" with a new interface that takes a week to learn.

      Cloud computing is driven by software publishers, eager to

      • remember that MS said all versions of software running on their cloud will be the latest version only. They will not support previous versions, so your nightmare world is likely to be true.

        That said, they'll probably change their mind when it comes down to it.

    • by bazorg ( 911295 )

      But Salesforce doesn't compete with Microsoft.

      oh yes they do. MS Dynamics CRM had its hosted version launched recently. http://www.microsoft.com/dynamics/crm/product/hosted.mspx [microsoft.com]

  • You let it grow on the vine, until the rose bush is taking over the green house and killing any other plants. Then when you think you have the most beautiful flower every, cut it off, put it in a vase and let it slowly wilt until it becomes a faded memory that even Mr Science can't revive.

    Vista is a view of the once venerable XP, in the same way that a wilting rose is a view of a once beautiful budding flower.

    My prediction? Microsoft is a Rose will hit #1 on the billboard charts in 2009.

  • This is all FUD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by root777 ( 1354883 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:28PM (#26258685) Homepage
    None of these scenarios represent the future for Microsoft. A much well thought out future was done by the now defunct Business 2.0 on Google http://money.cnn.com/magazines/business2/business2_archive/2006/01/01/8368125/index.htm [cnn.com]

    1. Desktop Operating Systems: Granted, Microsoft's cash cow of Desktop operating systems better evolve. I don't agree with the statement on Office 12 which is much better than previous versions. The same can't be said of Windows Vista or Windows 7. They better start working on IE 9 which should be open source and standards compatible for starters. The future of desktop OS is the browser and technologies like gears, silverlight and AIR.

    2. Server OS: Microsoft will probably retain the 50-50 ratio on the server side and Server 2008 is excellent with AD. However, it may have to think long and hard about Hyper-V because virtualization is going to be the future on the server OS side.

    2. Gaming: With the XBOX division, they will be making their $$ of Xbox live and not by selling the console. Xbox live is very stable and provides an excellent online gaming experience. Sony's victory of Blue Ray won't be longer because for movies and all, its going to turn to a streaming model. So MS better start putting TB drives in there or make them generic for the users to swap them out.

    3. Application Dev: Eclipse is a good alterative but MS Visual Studio is one of the best IDE's out there. It is not going to die anytime soon.

    4. R&D: Microsoft's labs may not match Google currently but they are coming out with some cool stuff. Photosynth comes to mind. With their "surface" technology evolving it will be interesting.http://livelabs.com/projects/ [livelabs.com]
    • Re:This is all FUD (Score:4, Insightful)

      by witherstaff ( 713820 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:58PM (#26258981) Homepage
      Do we trust Business 2.0's predictions when they kinda missed seeing their own demise in the future?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      2. Gaming: With the XBOX division, they will be making their $$ of Xbox live and not by selling the console. Xbox live is very stable and provides an excellent online gaming experience. Sony's victory of Blue Ray won't be longer because for movies and all, its going to turn to a streaming model. So MS better start putting TB drives in there or make them generic for the users to swap them out.

      Well, MS is now finally making profit with Xbox. However, the project has cost the company $6 billion in losses over

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Foofoobar ( 318279 )

      2. Server OS: Microsoft will probably retain the 50-50 ratio on the server side...

      Microsoft never ever had a 50-50 split on servers. Check Netcrafts top hosts and see what they are running and count how many are Windows. Then keep counting down past the top ten. They have 25% on average! And given the current economic situation, the last trend was to dump Microsoft and switch server to BSD and Linux where possible. You will see this trend continue again now that CEO's and CTO's now know that Linux is a st

      • And given the current economic situation, the last trend was to dump Microsoft and switch server to BSD and Linux where possible. You will see this trend continue again now that CEO's and CTO's now know that Linux is a stable and reliable alternative on the server side. The economic crisis is open sources friend and Microsofts enemy.

        Also given the fact that more people now can work with Linux. Ten years ago, Linux was far from commercial. Today, every major computer company (IBM, Sun, HP, etc) supports Li

      • "Server side" doesn't mean what you think it means. It's not just web servers. Do a survey of how many fortune 500 companies use Linux for their enterprise apps. You'll be surprised. And not in a "wow, that many - that's great?!" way.
        • Linux on the server side is a serious threat to Unix and Windows. First, they replaced Unix because they could do the job for a fraction of the cost except in cases like Big Iron where performance and reliability were the top priorities. Second, they opened up the minds of CEOs. Except for Exchange and AD servers, Linux is a serious competitor to Windows on most server applications. With the Samba team finally getting Windows Workgroup protocol information [samba.org] they always wanted, that AD advantage may slip.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nine-times ( 778537 )

      The future of desktop OS is the browser and technologies like gears, silverlight and AIR.

      God I hope not. Gears might be fine, but I really hope that people don't fall into letting Internet apps be held hostage by Microsoft and Adobe.

      Microsoft will probably retain the 50-50 ratio on the server side and Server 2008 is excellent with AD.

      I don't know how well Microsoft will retain the server-end. To me, a lot of it comes down to Exchange. If you want to use Exchange, you have to have an Exchange server and you pretty well have to run a Windows domain at that point, so you may as well let Windows dominate your network. On the other hand, if OSX and Linux come out with decent competitors to Exchan

  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:28PM (#26258687) Homepage

    It's still got 10 to 15 years of lingering life in it before it falls.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:04PM (#26259049) Homepage


      see how long SCO stuck around far after they were no longer relevant.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        You idiots have been predicting MS's demise for a decade. It ain't gonna happen, but you can keep pretending MS is irrelevant all you want if it makes you feel better.
        • Exactly. Microsoft has essentially reached the same position that IBM reached: huge, almost a monopoly, and never really going to vanish. Microsoft will undoubtedly fall from the #1 position in some markets, just like IBM did, but they will not vanish altogether.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          They probably will never disappear forever. It would be silly to think that. But I think it's also silly to think they'll be number one forever.

          It's rare that a company remains on top in their field especially in technology so they could very well end up like Apple. Maybe they'll end up a bit better than apple. Maybe someone will come to their senses and discover a way to easily create software that runs on any platform and then the market will be divided purely based on which ever OS people like the mos
      • You mean MS will end with a pointless lawsuit without merit to keep their stock afloat while Balmer tries to line his pockets as long as he can before the whole thing crashes and burns and nobody cares about it?

  • by lalena ( 1221394 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:32PM (#26258719) Homepage
    I tried reading the article, but the crystal ball spent half the time trying to guess what the next great thing would be (cloud computing...) and then how Microsoft would fit into it.

    The article accuses Microsoft of going in too many different directions at once, but when there are so many possible outcomes, how can they not. Microsoft can't affort to miss out on the next big thing, whatever it may be, so they play in every market.

    Microsoft was already late to the internet (Netscape), virtualization (VMWare), Business Apps (SAP), internet search (lots of companies), and then improved search + ads (Google), Virtual Meetings (WebEx), next gen programming (Java/Eclipse), media players (IPod), video game systems (PlayStation/Nintendo), phones (IPhone)... and they can't afford to miss the next big thing. Sure, in some of these industries they were in the market, but maybe their product was inferior and it didn't take off (Zune, early revs of Windows Mobile).

    So they must maintain a market presence in business apps, touch computing, mobile computing, cloud computing, game systems, video streaming, health care... just in case that is the next big thing.

    What most Microsoft bashing tends to miss is that being in the market isn't enough.

    Sometimes first to market is enough (Playstation 2 vs Xbox). Othertimes it is tie-ins with 3rd parties (IPod with the ITunes library). Sometimes it is price driven (Linux) and sometimes the quality of the product matters most (IPhone). I never see anyone do a full review Microsoft except as a list of bullet points for the markets that they play in.
  • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:32PM (#26258721)

    But "slow" is *really* slow. Like... Give them 20 more years, and they may have "declined" to the size that IBM is now.

    Most of these scenarios take the "cloud" for granted. Since the death of mainframes, businesses have been reluctant to adopt hosted apps, even when they are hosted in the company's own datacenters. The number of highly successful cloud app deployments for business will be countable on one hand. A single major outage will derail the cloud computing train for another 10 years or so and history will repeat itself for the 5th (6th?) time... Any scenario that predicts Microsoft's downfall based on the failure to adapt to cloud computing is flawed. #1 & #5. Same with the scenarios that predict Microsoft success based on the cloud. #3 & #4...

    In the sort term, I see Microsoft having a huge hit on their hands with Windows 7. CIOs everywhere will pat themselves on the back for saving so much money by skipping a generation, and the software itself will be improved thanks to the massive open beta that was Vista. The new version of Office (running locally) will also be a hit. Internet Explorer will continue to lose marketshare, but Silverlight adoption will increase. That covers the next 4 years. Anybody who claims to have a credible idea of what's going to happen after that is simply guessing.

    • Not to mention how Microsoft is branching out to new platforms like the iPhone. Microsoft's Seadragon app came out first on the iPhone according to this news article [builderau.com.au]. It makes me wonder if they will eventually be releasing their huge money making office type apps for the little bugger and this is just testing the waters...or maybe at least release some apps to give official exchange compatibility to the iPhone. I am sure that would sell like hotcakes.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:58PM (#26258987) Journal
      It'll be really slow almost no matter what happens. Even if Windows and Office bombed tomorrow(by "bombed" we'll assume ourselves to mean "no sane individual would ever start a new deployment, legacy deployments are looking to migrate when they can") they would have years of legacy volume licence revenue to work with. Further, they would most likely spin out and sell a system(either VM based or like WINE; but with the benefit of the actual win32 stuff) for running win32 applications on whatever platform(s) became dominant.

      That is not even mentioning the stuff they make that people actually like. Visual Studio + .net runtimes for various platforms would probably be a tidy little business all on its own. Their gaming division is also pretty decent(when it isn't throwing money at hardware).

      MS is at considerable risk of losing its status as de facto standard, and of suffering significant erosion of its margins, and I hope both things happen; but the notion that it will actually die is implausible at best. Companies with far weaker products have held on for ages on legacy deployments alone.
    • Umm, you do realize that when you compare the size of IBM and Microsoft, the question is "how do you define size?": Number of employees: IBM is overwhelmingly larger Market Cap: Microsoft is about 1 2/3 the size of IBM Total Revenue: IBM is between 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 times larger than Microsoft There are several other measures that one can use that favor Microsoft or IBM. My conclusion is that Microsoft and IBM are currently more or less the same size.
      • by ivan256 ( 17499 )

        That's why "decline" was in quotes. The definition of decline would either have to be based on influence, or rate of growth.

    • by kherr ( 602366 ) <kevin@pu p p e t head.com> on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:42PM (#26259517) Homepage

      I've always felt Microsoft is likely doomed to follow Wang Labs [wikipedia.org] decline from huge success to irrelevancy. The only real question is the timeline.

      Wang, like Microsoft, dominated for a long time with proprietary OS and software, generating gobs of money and being a huge company. Then one day it seemed like the world just walked by them and they stopped selling new stuff and just sort of faded away.

      Microsoft's decline will could be more complex, largely due to the Xbox and Windows Mobile markets with their own cycles, but Microsoft seems stuck in their tell-the-market-what-it-wants mindset instead of adapting to changes.

  • And has been for quite some time. Yes, they still make money. But do they make anything good or desirable? No. And they have had numerous chancers by now, they blew them all. Quite frankly, the only thing the Windows is still needed for (in most cases) is gaming. Everything else you can to better and cheaoper MS free.

    • by Joe U ( 443617 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:52PM (#26258925) Homepage Journal

      You are 100% correct, if you completely ignore corporate America using Windows.

      Lets take a large corporation as an example and look at the costs you ignored:

      Dozens of in house Windows apps, which would either need to be re-written or at least fully tested again in an emulation environment.
      Training for the end users for a new OS.
      Training for the end users for a new Office suite.
      Training for the end users for any critical applications.
      A new desktop management software roll-out for IT.
      Any server changes for IT.
      Training for IT in the new OS/Suite/Apps/Management software/servers.
      Time to convert from the old systems to the new ones.
      and a few dozen problems that will spring up during the transition.

      Now, after the millions spent on the above, you can wait a few years for the ROI in your new MS free environment.

    • Like iTunes? Buying a Mac is so much cheaper, I suppose, since it's so easy to buy whatever hardware you want and put OS X on it. "Can I use my iPod?" or "Can I use iTunes?" is a common question with regard to Linux. Amarok is cool, but iPod and iTunes DRM stuff is still an issue. Unless you want to personally spend your time getting rid of the iTunes DRM on a ton of music and transferring it..

      There's also Windows Server stuff? Yes, I know there are other server OS's out there, but Windows Server 200

  • "Does Ballmer really fill Gate's shoes?"

    I don't know.. lets ask Jerry Seinfeld, he seems to be an expert on shoes!
  • So some guys thought up a few possibilities about what could (do they really mean "what they'd like to .." ) happen to MS and posted them on the 'net

    Next, they ask people to vote on each one - as if voting will make it happen.

    Well, so what? we know that the whole of web 2.0 is based on popularity contests, and massaging the egos of the ravening masses, in the hope that on their way to have their say, they'll accidentally click on an advertisment and earn someone a few tenths of a bean in revenue.

    So long

  • by Drakkenmensch ( 1255800 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:55PM (#26258959)
    I have to admit, the "Gates was Right" scenario gave me the most giggles. I mean, honestly, an integrated OS into Office that can run on any platform? Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. I'll believe they can pull this off only after they can provide a stable OS that runs right out of the box without multiple service packs stretched out over several years. That, and Microsoft's reliance on having to come up with new versions of their OS to impose their vision on the consumer rather than listen to what they need (and right what what we need is a streamlined, light, fast and unbloated OS)
  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @12:58PM (#26258997) Homepage

    Although not for all the reasons they listed under that scenario. I was there when the pronouncements of the paperless office doomed every word processor to the scrap heap of history, only to see the amount of paper actually expand. But now offices really are using less paper and I believe the need for heavy duty word processing, particularly one for every workstation, will...no, is diminishing. That chops at one of Microsoft's major profit centers and, even if you disagree about the future of paper, it's still a declining industry segment any way you shred it. The need is diminishing, the alternatives are getting better and more abundant.

    The internet appliance trend will continue to eat away at OS market share. On less expensive hardware the cost of Windows becomes a larger percentage of the cost of a new machine. Unless the user has a need that justifies the cost, if users have a choice they will, at least some of the time, choose the alternative. The desktop market isn't growing as fast as the appliance market and more functional and more powerful appliance devices, like Netbooks (oh, no, we're gonna get sued!) are going to continue undermining the sales of higher end laptops and at least a few desktop sales. Mobile devices, smart phones all take their razor nick of blood out of the beast.

    I don't see MS disappearing for a long time but I do see them diminishing over time. And I also believe there will be an "Enron" moment when it becomes apparent that earnings have been sliding for a long time.

  • Missed one mac os x for all systems comes out and ms is forced to crack down and make windows stand up to it leading to a new os that is just as big as windows 95 was.

  • Why wasn't this posted as a poll?

    I'd go for option 4, like always.

  • why did they miss number 6? The latest court case (Vista ready)(or yet another anti-competitive one to be seen here soon) finally finds MS overstepped the mark and is totally untrustworthy and needs to be broken up into 5 or so Mini-Microsofts.

    It nearly happened last time, stranger things have happened.

  • by digitalhermit ( 113459 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:20PM (#26259235) Homepage

    Microsoft has some good and bad things going for them.

    Good stuff includes a large bank account, established market share, some measure of trust in some organizations (yes, heavily qualified but true), some interesting technology on the horizon.

    The things going against them are formidable though:
    1) They are the market leader; or rather, they hold the lion's share of the market. The market leader traditionally bears the brunt of costs to develop new technology. This is not just coding costs, but intangibles like pushing standards that have significant up-front costs and barriers to acceptance. With the heterogenous mobile computing environment, their previous strategy of closed "standards" no longer work.

    2) Their traditional cash cows (OS, Office) are becoming commodities. Everyone and their little sister seems to be putting out OSes with enough functionality to be "good enough". Microsoft now has to fight for the niche markets. This is more expensive than appealing to the masses. In contrast, startups can target the niche easily. For MS, it could be death by a thousand cuts as they bleed money going after tiny markets. (Sound eerily like the Republican Party???)

    3) Barrier to entry for new markets is getting very expensive. Google has built an infrastructure on search and Internet connectivity. To enter this market is difficult. In fact, many people think that Google is purposely developing throw-away technology knowing that Microsoft is going to jump/react and try to match it.

    4) Vista sucks. Their next revision may be a lot better, but Vista missed a critical salvo. Windows is not going to die anytime soon, but the problems with Vista has tarnished an already battered image.

    5) Competition is much fiercer.

  • by tsa ( 15680 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:35PM (#26259413) Homepage

    Making predictions about the future of computing (or about anything else for that matter) is useless. Most likely things will develop in a totally unforeseen way that is not described in the five models. That is why I didn't read the fine article.

  • PIM environment wins (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sgt scrub ( 869860 ) <saintium@yahooUMLAUT.com minus punct> on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:36PM (#26259423)

    Microsoft, Apple, and Google battle it out for the new PIM (personal information management) environment which replaces the desktop environment. Microsoft relies on lock in and cloud applications. Apple relies on multimedia integration and mulimedia services. Google relies on the FOSS/OSS community to port applications to their cloud. As the years go by all three give up on lock in. The PIM environments of each company become so commingled, outside of each company branding it with their own look and feel, nobody is able to tell them apart. Consumers buy devices instead of software. The days of "I run windows, osx, linux" end.

  • by jdp ( 95845 ) <jon_near_seattleNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:36PM (#26259429)
    The five scenarios were written right around the time Gates retired; TFA is a short six-month update ... One of the things that none of the scenarios discuss is the economic meltdown expected in 2009. Microsoft, with its multiple revenue streams and strong international business, may be better equipped to handle this than a lot of its competitors (e.g. Google is still almost completely dependent on advertising). It's also a great opportunity to refocus the business and turn costs. On the other hand responses like the rumored across-the-board 10% cut would further slow Microsoft's product delivery, and wouldn't do anything to improve the quality of the offerings. We shall see ...
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:54PM (#26259635)

    You can switch the engine off and it will continue to move forwards for a long, long time, simply due to its mass and momentum. The same is true for MS. They have a lot of long term contracts with companies that cannot simply cancel them. Companies in turn have long term plans that include licensing plans for MS products.

    The IBM case and how big blue "lost touch" with its customers around the early 80s, when they missed the rise of the PC and how mainframes lost their importance, does not really apply either. There is no "PC" that MS would have missed. And the times are quite different. Computers are today in every home (ok, not every, but close). And for the average person, computer means MS operating system. Yes, that was similar with IBM and computers back in the 70s. But when you bought one for your home, you had no option to get a mainframe (unless you were some super rich geek). So you had to get "something else", which was a PC with a MS OS. Today, people get a "computer for their home", so they don't look around for an alternative.

    Yes, one of the things MS benefits from is the lazyness of people. And that's why this oil tanker is going to go forwards for a long, long time to come. They'd really have to do something insanely stupid or piss off their users in some really insane way to change this, because nothing could come from the outside that could change that. People are too used to MS systems and they will continue using them because they're used to them. Why learn new tricks when the old ones were already hard to grasp? Unless users are really, really pissed and fed up so they start looking for alternatives, this won't change.

    • A few things.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Junta ( 36770 )

      MS's venture into the PDA/Smartphone realm has been problematic. It seemingly remains low on their list of priorities. A WinMo phone currently implies a further investment in third-party commercial applications to actually get suitable experience. Meanwhile, Apple and Google are getting a number of things right. Apple's out of the box experience is usable for most, and the App store is a much more well organized approach to third-party applications. Android is similar, but with the added benefit of the

  • by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @02:13PM (#26259845) Journal

    We are nearing a point where technology - both hardware and software - are going to reach a plateau. Let me use Microsoft Word as an example. Twenty years ago the software available to do desktop publishing was pretty poor. The interfaces were primitive, there were severe limitations of what could achieved, and the integration of intelligence to aid humans (spell checking, thesaurus, grammar checking, language translation, etc) was non-existent. There was a massive amount of room for improvement, and thus Word was created and has steadily grown in features and capability ever since. Because there was so much improvement to be made in that market, there was room for Word to progress, perhaps ahead of the curve, to set itself apart from similar products. So what is left to be implemented in modern word processors? What groundbreaking feature remains to be invented that can really set one product far above the others? There's not much. GUIs can be tweaked and redesigned. File formats can be updated and made more portable. But the simple fact of the matter is competition, like Open Office, can chug along in development at a leisurely pace, and before anyone realizes it, Open Office is suddenly completely on-par with Microsoft Office.

    We're heading towards the same end with operating systems, web browsers, and even hardware. Every now and then something new will come along (multitouch iPod / iPhone comes to mind - Microsoft was idiotic not to encourage that simple and logical progression with the Windows Mobile OEMs) that will set a product far apart. However, eventually we will have, for the most part, equivalency throughout.

    So what will dictate what companies or products are popular and which are not? Take a look at the fashion industry. The whole skirt-length, tie-thickness phenomenon will occur in the technology arena. Fads will come and go. Specific products will become popular because of subtle differences between them and competing products that the masses somehow identify as "modern" or "cool". Eventually the recycling process will begin, probably on a 15-20 year cycle, but perhaps even faster in the technology market. Some company will dredge up a GUI or method of doing something that was popular a couple product generations back, and it will make a resurgence for a while. Speech driven interfaces will become popular, then eventually be perceived as stupid and primitive. Gesture driven interfaces will become popular, then people using them will eventually be seen as old-fashioned and out of vogue. Direct interfacing to the human neurological system will become practical and popular, then later will be seen as too unnatural and invasive, leading full circle back to some other method of interfacing.

    So I don't think any one company is going to dominate for any duration, because they will not be able to make their product different enough (for better or worse) to make it stand up against the alternatives. This is where open source will really make a huge impact. The odds of a company like Microsoft managing not just to survive, but to dominate these kinds of drastic changes in technology paradigms is very, very unlikely.

  • by realmolo ( 574068 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @02:30PM (#26260033)

    Seriously. At this point, it's fairly obvious that Microsoft is going to be creating an all-new version of Windows that breaks backward-compatibility, and runs all the old stuff in a VM. As long as they release a new version of Office for the new OS, they won't lose much market share.

    Honestly, that's the best of both worlds. The old Windows cruft goes away, but old apps keep working until they can be re-written.

    Re-writing apps is hard, and that's what has kept Windows from *truly* evolving. Yeah, major commercial apps get re-written pretty quickly, but it's all those unique "business critical" apps that have been created by low-paid, inexperienced, in-house programmers that never get updated. Too many companies depend on those things, so MS has kept that junk running, at the expense of actually making Windows better.

    As for Linux and MacOS, well, until they get something like Active Directory and Group Policies working, they aren't really what you want on a corporate network. MacOS and Linux are MUCH more difficult to manage. Yeah, at the actual workstation-level, things are easier to configure, but doing mass configuration of lots of machines is a hassle. There are no good GUI tools, and no real standard tools in general. It can be done, but it's too difficult.

  • Yet this same company has produced a great server operating system (Windows Server 2008) and sharing server (SharePoint 2007)

    SharePoint? A great sharing server?

    SharePoint is like someone at Microsoft heard of a Wiki as explained by a Martian, and hired some people from Lotus to implement it. It's inflexible to set up and configure, only works right on Internet Explorer, and is insufferably clumsy to use. It could only be described as "great" by someone who has never touched any software unblessed by Redmond.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Degrees ( 220395 )

      Sure, I wouldn't use the word "great"; but... I see the foresight MS used in bringing out SharePoint.

      Better than email is a whole, real, Document Management System. And although implementing a DMS is smart, traditionally they didn't do "web". So Microsoft brings a DMS into its stable of product offerings, and makes it a WebDAV server, and integrates its access control features into Active Directory. That was smart.

      Did I just use the word "stable" in a sentence describing a Microsoft product? Gad - they've g

  • my scenereo (Score:4, Funny)

    by FudRucker ( 866063 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @03:58PM (#26260919)
    the year is 2025, Microsoft and Apple went bust, filed chapter 11, then MS & Apple merged in to one company, OSWinXV is the OS and can only be installed on WinApple Hardware, and the bundle literally costs a bundle (about the price of a new luxury car) while all the rest of the world runs 95% Linux & BSD (mostly Linux) and a sprinkling of OpenSolaris, only the uber rich buy the MS/Apple with OSWinXV, (roman humerals for 15) and it does not do much other than surf the internet & email, and solitare, while all the real work and productivity is on the *Nixes...

This process can check if this value is zero, and if it is, it does something child-like. -- Forbes Burkowski, CS 454, University of Washington