In the world of personal computing, the ball has been for too long in the court of the incumbents--folks in Redmond, etc. So it pleases one to see how the personal computing industry is taking notice, and changes as result, of the challengers--Firefox, Google and their likes. Indeed, Internet Explorer has become stale and heavy long time ago--until recently there had been no developers working on it anymore. Longhorn, the ghost of the operating system once meant to be, will finally be released in 2006.
Meanwhile, public imagination has been set ablaze by a series of pointed actions undertaken by the folks at Google: acquisitions, big name hirees, unconventional business approaches towards product and service offerings, or the $4Bn pile of cash it wants to get by selling its near $300/piece stock.
In charting out Google future, I would ponder the answers to the following questions:
- What strategy should Google follow?
- What one Google product should have its API public?
Google should make it so that access to its services is less dependent on Microsoft's gates(sic!).
Longhorn, at least initially, was supposed to offer a lot of the functionality Google tries to bring to the desktop and more. Should Longhorn come in a position to do that, Google's days on the desktop would be numbered, and considering the low adherence people have to search websites, Google would have a hard time justifying its multiples. Consequently, an elegant way out of the Microsoft conundrum for Google could be Linux. However, one of the major weaknesses Linux has is its lack of a (novice-)user oriented interface.
How about extending the Google search capabilities to Linux so that the user is presented with an extremely simple point of access to all the local-, and internet-resources? In other words, what would it take Google and Linux to become what Longhorn has struggled for such a long time to be?
To ensure the success of such approach, API's (and developer tools) should be provided so that an ecosystem (consisting of software and hardware applications) may develop.
To sum it all up: make search, discover, and consume the new computer paradigm, and get there, before Longhorn, with the help of the developers community!
During all this time, Google should continue to throw good technologies at the end-user so that the costs of switching off away from it grow.
Microsoft would do well to (re-)learn a lesson in creative destruction and mobilize its resources and developer community.
The end-user customer will finally be the judge, albeit a delighted one!