First published 16 April, 1997.
Talking at The Great Intranet Debate at the Intranet Expo 97 at Olympia, London, Sethi accused Microsoft of not acting in the best interests of users by maintaining a proprietary application upgrade model for its Office suite that goes against the cost of ownership issue.
Sethi was arguing that the Web browser is the answer to cost of ownership problems because it enables users to avoid being forced into an upgrade path to maintain file compatibility problems. "One vendor cannot provide everything but Java will provide wide-ranging compatibility," he said. "However, we will continue to support Windows and NT because we don't want to split the Web between 'them and us'."
Andrew Lees, Microsoft marketing director of Internet and desktop applications, denied that Microsoft was not acting in users' interests. "Our strategy is to have a solution from the thin client up to the scaleable server," he said. "We want to add cost of ownership without taking away mobility and compatibility."
Lees claimed that the NC is not more cost-effective than a properly managed PC, but admitted that it is currently too difficult to manage a PC. "We also want to automate and keep users' existing compatibility investments made in technology," he said.
Sethi was supported by Uffe Sorensen, IBM Lotus EMEA manager of enterprise solutions, who said that Lees was missing the point on cost of ownership and the NC. "The NC is powerful," he said. "It has to be because the applications sit locally for a session. The issue is not about keeping power on the desktop."
Andrew Bailey UK marketing manager at Oracle, added that the server is the key. "We are pushing the onus of manageability to people who are best suited to deal with it. End users are not interested in managing the applications."