I was intrigued when I read that [ our Indonesian IT expert was invited by Microsoft to discuss about “platform” ]. Is this the (early) beginning of a major shift in Microsoft future strategy ? Then [ Microsoft’s Platform strategist launched his blog on the subject ], so I think it’s quite safe to say that indeed they’ll be focusing on this topic more.
About platforms – intererstingly, in IT, the platform has changed several times.
At first, the platform was the computer architecture itself. We have x86 (Intel) architecture, also PPC, MIPS, SPARC, and so on. Microsoft got their fortune by milking the x86 platform.
However, people then started to make their software available on multiple platforms. Then Java made a big splash – it proved to the public that a platform doesn’t have to be based on a hardware infrastructure – a platform can be based on software, which in turn runs on many hardware. Also a few operating systems then started to be available on multiple hardware platforms – Linux, *BSD, and even Windows itself (eg: NT used to be available for MIPS, Alpha, and x86).
Of course we must not forget the web as a platform; Microsoft was wise enough to quickly include Internet Explorer on its Windows95 release, making themselves available on this platform.
One problem though; on these new platforms, Microsoft has realized that it’s not been able to effectively monopolize it. Unlike the Wintel (Windows-Intel) platform, where Microsoft can do whatever it pleases; these new platforms are based on (many) open standards. Although Microsoft has attempted to hijack these standards, I think it’s not as successful as it wished.
When most of your income came from locking your customer on your chosen platform, these chain of events probably have caused the Microsoft high command to start to worry.
Microsoft then tried to create a new platform for its future : .NET
However, this attempt is again at risk from the Mono project, headed by Miguel de Icaza. It looks quite good – I think the only thing that won’t run are ActiveX controls. Otherwise, you should be able to get .NET apps to run on it.
With many alternatives now available for their Windows platform (Linux, etc), and .NET not fully in their grasp, they probably have started to see the possibility of the decline of the biggest software company in the world.
If Microsoft can find another platform to lock their customers in, then they’ll be in for another 10-15 years of joyride. I think, therefore, this is among their highest priority at the moment.
Comments/insider’s info welcome.