Microsoft, Google and control of the web

Microsoft, Google and control of the web

Summary: Richard McManus has a great post covering Ray Ozzie's speech which I wrote about last week. He does a very good job of putting both Ray's comments in perspective as well as the general landscape of the web. I wanted to make a few comments, because I don't know that I was as clear as I could have been in my previous post.

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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Richard MacManus has a great post covering Ray Ozzie's speech which I wrote about last week. He does a very good job of putting both Ray's comments in perspective as well as the general landscape of the web. I wanted to make a few comments, because I don't know that I was as clear as I could have been in my previous post.

From a pure RIA standpoint, I really like Microsoft's strategy.From a pure RIA standpoint, I really like Microsoft's strategy. It has most of the things that I like about RIAs - central server, very device centric, and of course a rich, connected experience. Taken in a vacuum, the strategy is great. My main problem is that the strategy seems to be very much "old Microsoft". I can understand that their core business model has always been "become everyone's entry point" whether that was to the computer, to the internet, or productivity. With Ray, I was hoping they would focus on their strengths, become more open, and allow other developers to tie into their services. Under the old Microsoft that would be unheard-of, and it seems like this will be par for the course.

lock.jpgLock-in is a dangerous thing because it stifles innovation. There is something to be said for going "all Microsoft" and having one point of contact for support as well as a common environment for which to develop in, but we've seen a lot of fragmentation in the world. With the various types of phones, other devices (Sony's PSP, Nintendo's DS) and the rise of Mac OX, Microsoft will not be able to gain traction for their idea if it doesn't work for these platforms. Google on the other hand, by using the web and not trying to divide it into company-specific zones has painted with a very broad brush. I don't agree with many of their Ajax implementations, but they do run within most browsers, and you don't need Google-only hardware to access them. Of course Google wants to create a platform, but they want that platform to reach as many people as possible. Microsoft wants people to buy everything Microsoft and THEN use their platform. The Google model seems much more plausible.

With Web 2.0 we've seen the good that can come when individual minds are allowed to flourish. There has been so much innovation recently, and so many good ideas that it feels a little overwhelming. I think the "platform model" will do quite well with that kind of innovation, which is why I like companies like Adobe so much. Adobe does a great job of empowering users to create world class experiences. Their goals are to make sure their users can create experiences that will run everywhere, and the Flash Player does just that. It is that ability to run everywhere that makes Flash such a good solution, and if you were to take Flash and build things on top of Google's platform, you would have a very, very good business model - one that transcends the lock in required by Microsoft. Scoble said that he'd seen Second Life tried in Ajax and it wasn't pretty, but what about Flash Robert? It won't be as good as the PC version, but if you want to pop in to Second Life while you're on your PSP in a park, wouldn't Flash be a good alternative?

Microsoft will always be looking out for Microsoft's best interest, and I know that. But I don't believe their business model can succeed in a world as open as the one we have now. It would be better for all of us if they focused on Windows Live and their experience hub, but made sure it worked within the web using technology and standards that developers and users are familiar with. It's unfortunate that Google's advertising model means it wants to reach as many users as possible, regardless of how they get on the web, while Microsoft's model requires everyone to use Microsoft technologies to work within a Microsoft internet. Google's is much more welcoming, and I think that counts for something today.

Topic: Microsoft

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  • Use of Flash is discouraged...

    ... by all the ads that detract from web pages. I would not be without a small free program (on IE) that turns off all Flash.

    If Adobe wants Flash to be used more widely, the company will have to give me a very good reason to permit it to run at all.
    Anton Philidor
    • RE: Use of Flash is discouraged...

      You're right Anton, between the annoying ads and the skip intro button, Flash has been terrible. But it's come a very long way. Flash Video, the Flex Framework, Flash Lite. People are using Flash to build appliations and not just annoying ads. If you haven't seen it, you should check out Flex 2 and some of the technologies on labs.adobe.com.
      ryanstewart
      • RE: Use of Flash is discouraged...

        Outside of personal preferences (and we all have them), Flash is the most installed desktop application in the world, and it's fast moving that way with Cell phones. MySpace (my personaly preference is to hate that site, however..!), YouTube and Yahoo are migrating towards greater flash integration. So, I would say that there is little, if any, evidence of Flash being discouraged. IMHO
        davidmartinomalley
  • I don't see a problem

    Just about every business does lock in to one degree or another. From supermarkets (which try to keep you coming back with coupons, specials, etc.) to software companies. So there the question is, is MS being unreasonable with its lock in? I don?t think so. As I indicated before, I expect WPF/E to be the most widely used type of RIA, which should be able to be implemented on just about any device. Therefore a WPF/E RIA written for a PC will not constrain you to use it only on Windows PCs: you should be able to use on just about any PC, including Macs.

    It is true that WPF will be reserved specifically for MS? latest OSs. But so what? Just about every company reserves its best products and services, for its best paying set of customers. Remember also that MS is a public company that needs to keep growing, and it does this by getting a many people as possible to use its products.

    Google tries to get as much consumers and businesses to use its search engine and take advantage of all the ads it facilitates, and MS tries to get as much people as possible to use its desktop and other software. I don?t see a difference in principle between the two companies, only a difference in the way they execute their businesses.
    P. Douglas
    • Penetration is the problem

      You said: "It is true that WPF will be reserved specifically for MS? latest OSs. But so what? Just about every company reserves its best products and services, for its best paying set of customers."

      Agreed, but the penetration of this new OS will slow down aceptance of WPF/E. Considering that most people upgrade their OS when they buy a new computer, to get 70% penetration could take a few years. That's giving other RIA solutions (Flex/Ajax for example) alot of headway.
      davidmartinomalley
      • RE: Penetration is the problem

        Great comments david, and you're right. Microsoft's RIA strategy depends very heavily on getting Vista on new computers and if they miss the Christmas season, that could be bad. I realize their RIA strategy is a small part of the company, but it could give a lot of other technologies some headway.
        ryanstewart
      • I don't think so

        [i] Agreed, but the penetration of this new OS will slow down aceptance of WPF/E. Considering that most people upgrade their OS when they buy a new computer, to get 70% penetration could take a few years. That's giving other RIA solutions (Flex/Ajax for example) alot of headway.[/i]

        According to [url=http://macdailynews.com/index.php/weblog/comments/7773/]this web site[/url], the market share for OSs around October 2005 were as follows:

        1. Windows XP - 77.92%
        2. Windows 2000 - 9.82%
        3. Windows 98 - 4.78%
        4. Mac OS - 4.11%
        5. Windows ME - 1.99%

        This would mean that by the time Vista comes out, a little under 90% of computers will be able to run WPF RIAs, and a little under 100% of computers will be able to run WPF/E RIAs. Therefore for the most part penetration will be constrained by Internet connection speed ? which will be required to download the frameworks onto non-Vista PCs. This situation could be relieved by CDs being mailed out people having slow Internet connections.

        According to [url=http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Broadband_trends2006.pdf]this study[/url], 42% of US households had broadband in March 2006. This number could go up to about 50% when Vista is released. This would mean there could be adoption of WPF and WPF/E RIAs in about 50% of US household PCs by the end of 2007, and a decent adoption rate in businesses around the same time. Therefore I think it is possible to get 50-70% penetration of MS type RIAs by the end of 20007.
        P. Douglas
        • Can you explain more...

          P, I may have been mistaken, so can you clarify for me: I thought you needed to have the Vista OS in order to run WPF/E applications. If that is not the case, then i'm mistaken and that changes my thinking. If that IS that case, then we'll have to wait for all those windows users to upgrade to Vista before we can start rolling out WPF based applications.

          Regardless, 50% penetration by end 2007 is much better than I though, but it's still very slow. It's very slow if you are company A, who wants to roll out an RIA solution in WPF, and your competitor has decided to leverage Flex or Ajax, now. That's a pressure point.

          I think large corporations would be able to wait, as enterprise level applications are usually (should we say) less nimble. That's assuming you have changed my thinking on the above question. Please do clarify for me.

          Cheers,

          David
          davidmartinomalley
          • RE: Can you explain more...

            David,

            P's numbers are correct, and WPF/E will have a ton of penetration regardless of when Vista comes out (one of the reasons I'm really excited about it). One thing that is a little misleading is that while Windows XP will have the capability to run WPF and WPF/E applications, in order to run WPF apps, it requires a pretty hefty 25 meg download. I wonder how many people will take that jump. For corporations it's a non-issue, but for individuals, that seems like a lot of work to run WPF applications.

            WPF/E is a smaller download, and it is going to run on pretty much everything. But it doesn't do as much as WPF does, so I don't know how valuable it is to RIA development. I've heard it described as a "helper" to WPF, meaning that in order to really build an RIA you need to use WPF, but that could have changed.

            Great stuff guys.
            ryanstewart
          • Thanks Ryan

            That actually helps me understand alot better. I agree Ryan, the download is an issue, and that puts P's comments regarding broadband in perspective.

            Will the release of WPF be timed with Vista? Ryan, I would go one further and say that a holiday release of Vista is mission critical - if MS give their competitors any more time to gain ground, they may end up losing control of the agenda.

            Cheers, and thanks for clearing some things up for me.
            davidmartinomalley
          • Re: Can you explain more...

            WPF can be run on PCs with Win XP, Win 2003 Server, or Vista. For non-Vista PCs, you need to download the .Net 3.0 framework in order to do so. I originally thought the WPF/E framework would be fairly large, however according to [url=http://www.itwriting.com/wpfe.php]this article[/url] ([b]please read[/b]), it may wind up being only about 2 MB large. (I see now why Ryan does not favorably compare WPF/E to WPF - which (the latter i.e.) will be much larger and more capable.)

            The above implies that WPF/E adoption should be a lot more rapid than WPF, because WPF/E framework downloads should be relatively painless ? even with slow Internet connections. Also WPF/E applications will probably all be quite small.
            P. Douglas
          • Thanks

            Thanks P - I haven't had a chance to get all the way throught that article, but I have it bookmarked.

            cheers,

            David
            davidmartinomalley
    • RE: I don't see a problem

      As always, thanks for commenting P. I apologize that I'm not getting around to responding until now. I always like reading your comments and I try to spend some extra time getting my ideas straight.

      I have a couple of problems/regrets about what MSFT is doing. You're right that lock in is how businesses survive, but Microsoft is trying to lock in the entire internet just like they did with the operating system. Back then, it worked, but I just don't think that can fly today.

      The second is WPF/E. I was really, REALLY excited about WPF/E when I first heard about it. I even took a look at the Microsoft jobs site to see what openings the team had. But since then, I've learned that WPF/E is going to be a much more restricted version WPF. From a technical standpoint that makes sense, but I haven't seen a good example of how the two technologies work together or what benefits WPF/E alone is going to provide.
      ryanstewart