Some people would know I’m all for interesting theories regarding the direction of the major technology companies, Microsoft, Google, Apple, etc.
Now, upon reading about this, it reminded me of a theory I had that I shared with dad back in January, yay for chat logs hey?
After the jump to read it all, be warned, it is longish.
[17/01/2008 11:28:48 AM] Matt Brown says: you know whats interesting
[17/01/2008 11:30:39 AM] Steven Brown says: what?
[17/01/2008 11:32:29 AM] Matt Brown says: bill gates is retiring right
[17/01/2008 11:32:38 AM] Steven Brown says: mm
[17/01/2008 11:32:51 AM] Matt Brown says: which means microsoft is completely changing hands for lack of better words
[17/01/2008 11:33:18 AM] Matt Brown says: steve jobs is almost exactly 8 months older than bill gates
[17/01/2008 11:33:58 AM] Matt Brown says: which means, unless he decides to keep going for significantly longer, which it sounds like he does plan on hanging around for a while yet, apple will potentially have a change over soon as well
[17/01/2008 11:34:30 AM] Steven Brown says: yeah
[17/01/2008 11:35:48 AM] Matt Brown says: they also have a $50 billion dollar difference in net worth…but thats not really relevent to my point, thats just something i noticed
[17/01/2008 11:36:38 AM] Matt Brown says: but anyways, when you think about it
[17/01/2008 11:37:27 AM] Matt Brown says: the personal computing era started with the two of them who are born the same year, which means much of the direction has been dictated by them, yeah there have been others etc, but they are the dominant ones
[17/01/2008 11:38:15 AM] Steven Brown says: yeah
[17/01/2008 11:38:32 AM] Steven Brown says: so you think there is a posiibility of a new direction?
[17/01/2008 11:45:50 AM] Matt Brown says: i don’t see why not, i dont know what direction, and whatever direction it is will no doubt get pushed by apple first since jobs hasnt given any indication of retiring. and while microsoft is capable of running itself without gates, gates would have still dictated the main direction of the company, and no doubt whoever his successor is/if there is one, which is another thought, it may not end up with a replacement for gates, which would somewhat change the structure as well. but i think it is in a way, assisting Google, because Google have started to push their own open source pda operating system, as well as their vast software pools that effectively fill the position of everything microsoft have, but they are available entirely online, rather than being run from the computer. i don’t doubt that microsoft will still be a major player, but vista is effectively a failure, there is a reason they are still selling XP, i think, it will become more of a 3 way competition rather than 2. Google don’t offer the exact same things, and they say they have no intention of competing with microsoft and such, but i think they are, whether they admit to it or not. Google Documents let you do almost everything Office does, but online so you can access it from anywhere, they also have star office available for free as a deal with Sun Microsystems. Then there is Gmail which is far better than Microsofts Hotmail, Gmail also incorporates many of the features of Outlook/Outlook Express, Google Calenders are better than the Outlook calender, and so on
Note that most of my percentage figures were from memory and not quoted from any specific source, so they may be off, though I doubt by more than 10% or so. Also note that the below is entirely my opinions (and some of my dads) and as such, I have said some things are better than others without giving in depth reasons, it was merely sharing a set of theories.
[17/01/2008 11:46:13 AM] Matt Brown says: not to mention, google docs are much easier to use than office 2007 [17/01/2008 11:50:56 AM] Matt Brown says: taking that into consideration, then take into consideration that gates is retiring, jobs is 52, and the founders of Google are both 34. [17/01/2008 11:51:08 AM] Matt Brown says: then consider that the CEO of Google is one of the Apple board of directors [17/01/2008 11:52:38 AM] Steven Brown says: There was a push from sun microsystems about 8 years ago to start ‘distributed processing’ online, which kinad failed due to bandwidth issues, microsoft buying their sub contractors etc [17/01/2008 11:52:49 AM] Steven Brown says: theta may start up again under google
[17/01/2008 11:53:08 AM] Matt Brown says: it may [17/01/2008 11:55:32 AM] Matt Brown says: i think there is a strong possibility that apples could become a much more common general work computer, so to speak in that they have a lot of power and the tools to do some of the best work, graphical, audio and so on, but i think that google may become a very key player in mainstream applications in that they are operating system independant, their services and applications will run on anything with an internet connection. i can check my gmail from my mobile phone, and its a coupld years old now
[17/01/2008 11:56:03 AM] Steven Brown says: yeah [17/01/2008 11:57:17 AM] Matt Brown says: the distributed online processing could become a reality if Google were to get behind it [17/01/2008 11:57:27 AM] Matt Brown says: especially if it were to benefit their applications
[17/01/2008 11:58:31 AM] Matt Brown says: it is unrealistic to do video work over the net at this stage due to the size of the files involved, which is why at this stage i think there still has to be a major system package such as what apple offer, or microsoft etc
[17/01/2008 11:58:34 AM] Matt Brown says: however [17/01/2008 11:58:56 AM] Matt Brown says: microsoft have lost market share to apple in the past year or 2 [17/01/2008 11:59:07 AM] Matt Brown says: and google over the past year have taken a bite into that as well
[17/01/2008 12:00:14 PM] Matt Brown says: there are hacks that allow os x to run on any intel computer, it doesnt have to run on a mac
[17/01/2008 12:01:20 PM] Matt Brown says: so i think there is a lot of potential for things to change significantly before jobs retires, and possibly again after he does, considering he is 20 years the senior of Google’s founders [17/01/2008 12:01:30 PM] Steven Brown says: I think MS is Dying [17/01/2008 12:01:44 PM] Steven Brown says: people have lost interest in ms [17/01/2008 12:01:53 PM] Matt Brown says: i dont think its that so much [17/01/2008 12:03:45 PM] Matt Brown says: since gates decided to transition out of his “day-to-day” role 2 years ago, and placed two people in his place to do his job, it has started to go down hill [17/01/2008 12:05:47 PM] Matt Brown says: from what i’ve read, up until then, gates had a pretty active role in all of the product strategies and pushing things through [17/01/2008 12:06:13 PM] Matt Brown says: and really, the last operating system released while he was there, xp, was successful [17/01/2008 12:06:20 PM] Matt Brown says: it still outsells its successor [17/01/2008 12:06:36 PM] Steven Brown says: yeah – vista is junk [17/01/2008 12:07:13 PM] Matt Brown says: so while i expect gates would have still had a role in vista, i get the impression he hasn’t been that involved in it since 2006 [17/01/2008 12:07:17 PM] Steven Brown says: You can’t have two people developing websites! [17/01/2008 12:07:34 PM] Steven Brown says: 2 people guiding software development would be just as bad [17/01/2008 12:07:41 PM] Matt Brown says: well [17/01/2008 12:07:44 PM] Matt Brown says: the two people replacing him [17/01/2008 12:07:55 PM] Matt Brown says: one is meant to do day to day management [17/01/2008 12:08:02 PM] Matt Brown says: the other is meant to do long term product strategy
[17/01/2008 12:08:09 PM] Matt Brown says: those things go hand in hand [17/01/2008 12:08:49 PM] Matt Brown says: and with an entrepreneurial mind like gates, those two would have logically flowed together and been tied together in his mind and he would be able to see pretty quick how they would affect each other [17/01/2008 12:08:55 PM] Matt Brown says: by splitting them [17/01/2008 12:09:18 PM] Matt Brown says: time is wasted by having to compare notes etc, as well as the possibility of them going in different directions entirely [17/01/2008 12:09:26 PM] Steven Brown says: yeah [17/01/2008 12:10:18 PM] Matt Brown says: one would expect for gates to pick them to replace him, they would have to be pretty good, but it cannot work as well as one for that, i can see it would be more effective if they were both doing both things so that they were both thinking along the same lines all the time [17/01/2008 12:18:32 PM] Matt Brown says: there are a lof of people that like vista and office 07, but i think overall they are both rather unsuccessful compared to their predeccessors, especially considering that they are not just competing with themselves anymore. Apple’s are becoming more common, and as such, iWork is becoming more well known, apple’s office suite. personally, i prefer office 2004 (the mac version of office 2003), than iWork, but all the same, it is becoming more widely used as mac’s have become more common. Then, as i mentioned earlier, Google have their Google Docs and are also pushing Star Office, which offers the full functionality that was lost in the free open office.However Google are pushing it for free as well. So both of those are becoming used as well [17/01/2008 12:18:50 PM] Matt Brown says: The other thing that is cause for failure with office 2007 is the use of a new file format [17/01/2008 12:18:57 PM] Matt Brown says: every application uses a new format [17/01/2008 12:19:06 PM] Matt Brown says: except outlook [17/01/2008 12:19:22 PM] Matt Brown says: they all open and can save as the old format [17/01/2008 12:19:33 PM] Matt Brown says: buy it isn’t default [17/01/2008 12:19:54 PM] Steven Brown says: yeah and its a pain [17/01/2008 12:20:01 PM] Matt Brown says: which means often, people cannot open things from it because in the majority of environments, 2003/2004 are the norm [17/01/2008 12:20:26 PM] Matt Brown says: and not only that, but that format has been around since office 97, possibly earlier, so all of the other applications based on it use basicaly the same format [17/01/2008 12:20:49 PM] Matt Brown says: well, can use the same format, they have their own formats as well, but they incorporate the microsoft formats [17/01/2008 12:21:04 PM] Matt Brown says: Google Docs however does away with this altogether since its completely web based [17/01/2008 12:21:22 PM] Matt Brown says: so not only has microsoft released a product that is effectively a nuisance [17/01/2008 12:22:23 PM] Matt Brown says: but they released it, from memory, a year after google released Google Docs which removed the format problem altogether [17/01/2008 12:22:34 PM] Matt Brown says: Google docs can open standard microsoft formats as well [17/01/2008 12:23:26 PM] Matt Brown says: so Google Docs had a year to get out there [17/01/2008 12:23:35 PM] Matt Brown says: not to mention [17/01/2008 12:23:38 PM] Matt Brown says: because it is web based [17/01/2008 12:23:43 PM] Matt Brown says: it is ideal for collaborative work [17/01/2008 12:23:56 PM] Matt Brown says: and google docs incorporates that, completely free [17/01/2008 12:24:45 PM] Matt Brown says: to collaborate on Office documents you have to purchase the microsoft collaboration software, i cant remember what its called, and from memory it is meant to be run from a windows server, which means you also ahve to have access to a windows server [17/01/2008 12:25:14 PM] Matt Brown says: Additionally, Google Docs incorporate automatic saving to Google’s servers [17/01/2008 12:25:20 PM] Matt Brown says: so it is virtually impossible to lose anything [17/01/2008 12:25:46 PM] Steven Brown says: I reckon online is the wy to go [17/01/2008 12:25:56 PM] Steven Brown says: but you also need a local application [17/01/2008 12:26:11 PM] Matt Brown says: you can choose to leave it entirely on their server, or download them in whatever format you choose. google allow you to create docs on the server, upload ones you created [17/01/2008 12:26:16 PM] Matt Brown says: yeah, you do [17/01/2008 12:26:33 PM] Matt Brown says: and i think that is the purpose of star office
[17/01/2008 12:26:48 PM] Steven Brown says: yep [17/01/2008 12:27:06 PM] Matt Brown says: dont get me wrong, microsoft do control the vast majority of office application usage, but i think google have a very very good application base to take a chunk out of that [17/01/2008 12:28:24 PM] Matt Brown says: not to mention that they are in a prime position to push it [17/01/2008 12:30:00 PM] Matt Brown says: especially in australia where google controls something like 80% – 90% of the search market and is thus perfectly positioned for it and with wireless internet connections becoming so common
[17/01/2008 12:31:12 PM] Matt Brown says: google have 60% or so of the world wide search market as well which is also quite well positioned really, but when 80% of searches in a country are conducted through Google, it gives them the perfect position to push their products
Now, upon re-reading it, yes, there are a lot of things that have changed since then, such as Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo, and now the interoperability releases.
However, my underlying theories are still relevent. Google is a significant threat to Microsoft, their bid on Yahoo makes that pretty obvious, especially considering the poor performance of MSN Live search, which pulls some 6% of searches. I do wonder about how accurate the 6% statement is though, given how easy it is to accidentally search for something that you or someone you are talking to has typed in MSN and thus potentially bumping up their figures a bit.
Now, in all of that, it is not to say that I believe it is the end of the road for Microsoft, I strongy disagree, they still have a huge amount of resources at their disposal, and with the potential acquisition of Yahoo which Google can’t do much to stop, that opens up the road for further developments as well.
Just one example of something Microsoft has a big lead in is chat software, MSN, or Windows Live Messenger as it is now called, is probably one of the most widespread chat programs, followed by Yahoo Messenger and AIM, and finally ones like GoogleTalk and other Jabber based clients. Skype fits in there somewhere too, but it is not quite the same as it is focused more on VOIP.
As I mentioned in the chat, I prefer Microsoft’s Office 2004 to Apple’s iWork, I also prefer Office 2003, and even 2007, to Star Office and Open Office. Google Docs I put in a different category, as I use Google Docs and Microsoft Office alongside each other for collaborative work at university.
I also believe that Microsoft’s Silverlight will bring some much needed competition to Adobe’s Flash.
Definitely don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-Microsoft, they do great things in the community, like the Mix On-Campus events that they ran at universities around Australia last year and so on. I just firmly believe that they needed to change their direction.
Now, the announcement of their planned focus on interoperability goes to show that my theories are proving to be very true. There is a big change happening in the industry, and Google’s focus on open source solutions, along with Apple’s increasing market share are pushing Microsoft more than ever to innovate and ultimately, bring greater benefits to the end user.
Since being involved in the above conversation, there have been more things come to light to me as well. I stated that Gmail is better than Hotmail and also provides much of the functionality of Outlook/Outlook Express, but web based, however, I have recently also come across an implementation of Gmail through Google Apps that can provide even closer functionality to Outlook. It can be setup with custom domains and so on, and provides up to 25gb per user depending on which service you go with. Prices start at free, or $50 a year depending on your needs.
I’m sure that it doesn’t provide everything that an Exchange server does, but it is putting a significantly cheaper alternative out there.
Then there is also the latest version of Kerio Mail Server, version 6.5, which is compatible with OS X 10.3 and up, and can run on hardware dated all the way back to G4’s. Additionally, it is Microsoft Certified for Vista and also carries Red Hat certification for Linux.
I have had trouble getting Microsoft’s Entourage to connect to my Exchange mail server from my Mac, which it is supposed to be able to do, Kerio supports every version of Outlook from 2000 up, and every version of Entourage from X up. It also provides webmail access from a browser, as well as from PDA’s and smartphones.
Particularly relevent for Mac users is also the included support for CalDAV, meaning that you can sync up your calender from iCalendar, wherever you access the server, be it from a Mac, Windows, Linux etc. It basically provides a bridge between open and proprietry standards.
The pricing of Kerio Mail Server is very competitive as well, starting at US$499 with 10 users.
So there are two more things putting pressure on Microsoft.
I should also note that I stated Vista is effectively a failure, and indicated that Office 2007 is not much better and I would like to confirm what I mean.
I have explained before, about things that I see as being pretty obviously copied from OS X and things that are inferior, and so on, however, I am not going to deny that Vista has advantages over XP, such as the excellent search functions. I am still however firm in my stance that XP is, in general, a better operating system.
Now, in saying Vista is a failure, I mean, I believe it has failed at significantly improving on XP, and on being a significant threat to Apple’s growing market share. Office 2007 again, has its advantages, I believe that when it was said in the Office 2007 introduction videos from Microsoft, that users found Office 2003 did everything they needed, they just needed it to be easier to use (not an exact quote and I can’t find the video at the moment sorry), I agree. Office 2003 was excellent. As I said, Office 2007 has it’s advantages, it looks nicer, it feels cleaner, it uses a new and improved set of file formats and so on.
However, in general, I believe it fails significantly at improving the user experience and increasing productivity. I have spent 15 minutes in Word and Excell trying to find things that would have taken me 2 seconds to do in Office 2003, and don’t even get me started on Access.
I got an email from Rhi while she was at work one day asking for help in Excell 2007 because their systems had all been upgraded, and everyone in their office had spent over an hour trying to find how to put a tick in a cell, which they had used in Excell 2003 and they just could not find it, the help was of no help to them either. I was at work as well and so I wasn’t able to try and figure it out at the time. Again though, this was something they previously did in 2 or 3 seconds. They now use smiley faces because they are easier to do than ticks.
I mentioned Access back a paragraph, at uni when we changed over to Office 2007, it left the Access related subjects very difficult to do, and they had to provide us with standalone Access 2003 to complete the subject (ITB004), purely because Access 2007 is in all sincerity, so different to Access 2003, that the tutorials could not even be transferred across with a little bit of experimentation, simply because things that were there in Access 2003 were nowhere to be found in 2007.
I mentioned the new formats as being improved and so on, however, as I stated in the conversation, the new formats are also proving to be a pain. So many people still use Office 2003, XP, and even 2000. At work, we have one computer with 2007, the rest on 2003, and people who don’t know about the compatibility options save in the new format without realising it, and this cannot be opened on any other computer. We receive email attachments from time to time from people who haven’t realised either, and we cannot open them without taking the extra time to copy them over to the computer with Office 2007. The only reason we have a computer with 2007 at all is because of the need for an extra license.
Don’t get me wrong, for there to be an improvement there do often have to be sacrifices and I know that from time to time it has to be done, but it is a pain for almost everyone.
I did have more I was going to write, but it is 2am, and it seems to have slipped my mind, plus this is already quite long and full of conspiracy theories, so I shall save them for another time.
I believe that Microsoft’s interoperability announcement is one of the best things they could do at this point in time, especially given the poor nature of Vista. By opening up these avenues it provides more opportunities for Microsoft to thrive, along with keeping healthy competition between themselves, Apple, and Google. As I mentioned in my conversation, Google may not say they are competing with Microsoft, and one would generally perceive that they aren’t, except in the search market, however, I believe that they are, and they are perfectly positioned to do so.
I am sure there are other things in my conversation I could correct with newer, or referenced information, such as the fact that Apple was co-founded with Steve Wozniak, and there was someone else involved in the founding of Microsoft, but I don’t remember who, anyway, you get the point, and as I said, it’s 2am.
Also, where dad says “You can’t have two people developing websites!”, just to explain, that is a reference to some problems I had working with another designer who writes code very differently to how I do, and he would make changes to things without letting me know and then when I would work on something, quite often, there would be a problem come up and I could not find the cause of it. 99% of the time it was because of his using inline CSS, CSS in the header, and HTML attributes that could have been specified in the styles instead of the HTML. Whereas I was using an external stylesheet. He started off using the external stylesheet as well, and then it just got worse and was very painful. Especially seeing as how I had to fix the problems. Basically, he had poor coding practices (in my opinion anyway), and did not communicate well about what he was doing, which made it difficult to work with. Aside from that, you definitely can have more than one person developing a website. So anyway, thats the train of thought that is going there and in the statements that follow it.