Friday, July 28, 2006

Microsoft officially decides to use the Internet (op/ed)

Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's Chief Software Architect (the position formerly held by Internet mogul Bill Gates), announced yesterday to a conference of investors and share-holders that Microsoft will be officially changing it's primary focus from PC-based applications to those that are more more net-centric. 
The difference, of course, is that PC-based applications are installed on (and run from) your computer, where net-centric (aka Internet-based or web-based) applications do not require installation on your computer and are run from a web server.  The biggest advantage to using web-based applications is support and maintenance.  You don't have to touch each and every machine when you are ready to upgrade to a new version of software or apply a patch if your application is web-based.  You can just install it on the web server once, and each user gets to reap the benefits.
Getting back to Microsoft's announcement: What I have a hard time understanding is... What took so long?
With Google's latest web-based applications (i.e. EarthVideoMapsLocal and especially Google Spreadsheets) it's obvious that Microsoft has been called out on the carpet to make the move to web-based applications.  With all the latest advances with AJAX (asyncronous JavaScript used in conjuction with XML), web-based applications can now perform most of the same functions as desktop applications.
To me this move seems economical, logical, intelligent, and well... obvious.  While the rest of the world is busy writing AJAX enabled web-based applications, Microsoft is putting the finishing touches on Office 12. 
How will this announcement effect you?  Keep an eye out for MS Office 13 on a web server near you.