Does Microsoft have a future?

Interesting comments from Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s departing chief software architect. This is a topic with big implications for anyone choosing a software platform, and — with reference to SDPs — for those considering Silverlight as a client delivery technology. There has been a lot of rather defensive back-pedalling from Microsoft recently on Silverlight. Microsoft is increasingly looking like yesterday’s company.

By brilliantly seizing the opportunity to position MS-DOS (and later, Windows) as a near-universal computing platform in the 1980s, Bill Gates established  Microsoft as the world’s dominant computing firm. It supplanted the previous incumbent, IBM, whose once impregnable market position in traditional computing suddenly became irrelevant.

It now looks likely that Microsoft is about to suffer the same fate as IBM. Its dominance is still almost entirely based on ownership of the PC desktop. Meanwhile a whirlwind of change is sweeping through computing. The Web, Cloud computing and mobile devices are permanently changing how computing is done.

Microsoft’s Windows Mobile has a scant 5% of the smartphone OS marketplace, and is losing heavily to iPhone and Android. Windows Mobile 7 looks like it has come too late to save the day.

Meanwhile Microsoft is awaking, also too late, to the inevitability of the Web as an application platform, as Steve Ballmer recently revealed.

27 May 2010 was the historic day when Microsoft fell behind Apple in market cap. It has a lot further to fall.

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