Nicholas Carr On Ozzie’s Pipedream

I seldom agree with Nick Carr in an unabridged fashion, but here’s the counter example:

[from Rough Type: Nicholas Carr’s Blog: Microsoft’s forecast: cloudy]

[after a long recapitulation of Ozzie’s longterm vision of Microsoft’s technology vision to dominate future web services, Nick gets to the core.]

Ozzie closed his talk with an attempt to position Microsoft as the company best suited to dominate the cloud, as it’s dominated the desktop, through a combination of “software plus services”:

We’re building a platform to support our own apps and solutions, and to support our partners’ applications and solutions, and to support enterprise solutions and enterprise infrastructure. We are the only company in the industry that has the breadth of reach from consumer to enterprises to understand and deliver and to take full advantage of the services opportunity in all of these markets. I believe we’re the only company with the platform DNA that’s necessarily to viably deliver this highly leveragable platform approach to services. And we’re certainly one of the few companies that has the financial capacity to capitalize on this sea change, this services transformation.

I remember, back when the computing industry was going through its last great sea change, with the arrival of the personal computer, IBM assumed it was the “only company in the industry” with the customer base, the capabilities, and the cash to dominate the next generation of computing. But as a small upstart named Microsoft showed Big Blue, that ain’t necessarily so. Microsoft and Ozzie have been talking a good game about cloud computing for the past two years. But we’re still waiting for the Redmond team to take the field.

The likelihood is that Microsoft will be/is being blindsided by a wave of tiny startups that won’t be building anything on the Microsoft cloud. Microsoft may think they will dominate the cloud based on the attractiveness of their own software sitting there.

But, no.

If a person like me can simply opt out of Office by using Google Docs and Neooffice, trust me, the majority of other professionals will follow in a few years. Ozzie is puffing another pipedream, just like Groove and Notes. Its a dream that sounds plausible to consultants who are in the business of building customized business systems (like the Notes value proposition), but a wholesale transition to Web 2.0 apps would invalidate that premise.

We’ll have to see, but I agree with Nick. Its too late and not enough. Microsoft looks like a dinosaur watching the meteor streaming across the sky overhead, about to crash and cataclysmically alter the environment. The last great Information Age company in the post-everything economy.

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