'Three screens and a PC
The vision that Ozzie said he's setting is for "three screens and a PC" - applications that are able to run or be displayed on a PC, mobile, and TV but link back to the cloud. He believes application code should be cached and sandboxed and data synchronized online through the cloud.
Isn't this a direct threat to Microsoft's core, PC-based business?
Rightly, Ozzie called out Silicon Valley and the tech industry for its fanaticism for "new" at the expense of "existing". And - on this basis - he believes Microsoft has a future.
"Look," a slightly testy father of Lotus Notes told Wired senior writer Steven Levy on stage at the Churchill Club. "As long as I've been in this industry everybody who's got some new technology touts it as being the thing that's going to kill the previous thing. And when it all settles out, the reality is it's the previous thing and the new thing."
Specifically on the future obsolescence of the operating system, Ozzie said we will always need operating systems to abstract the hardware on any device.
"The programming model on top of that operating system is what's changing and the experience on top of that operating system is what's changing. All we have to do is make sure the way we approach the programming model is contemporary and relevant to developers at that moment in time and - yes - that's got to factor in the web.
"There are ways to connect web developers to what's going on in the operating system in ways that haven't been done today without being locked into the browser.
"The question is, if you are a web developer, what might you want to do with [Microsoft] Office or the shell? There are ways of lighting up the web experience and the operating system experience that are much more compelling today. I'm not concerned there's a future" for the operating system.
With netbooks, Ozzie is betting on an x86 Intel and AMD future running the forthcoming Windows 7 rather than ARM as most software runs on the former without the added complexity of emulation. He also doesn't seem to see a single, mass-market ARM-based device emerging to challenge Intel and AMD x86 and the PC model, just the continuation of smaller ARM-based devices.
He also seemed a little puzzled at claims Microsoft's not doing much for netbooks, pointing to the forthcoming release of Windows 7 as a replacement for Windows XP.
"If it [ARM] happens it will be on a different type of device. And there hasn't been a broadly accepted clamshell or device that's not a PC. I'm not writing it off but I'm investing in the future of lots and lot and lots of really nice and expensive and really nice inexpensive laptops," Ozzie said. ®
Challenge of the Netbook
You mean the netbooks where Windows market share has gone from 10% to 96% in less than a year?
The real contest for Cloud computing will be EC2 vs. Azure. And by the way, EC2 allows both Windows and Linux services. Google's offering seems much more restricted and inefficient, just allowing people to run scripting.
The nice thing about Cloud computing is that it will bypass ideological system admins and let people develop and deploy server-side software with enormous freedom. Maybe that is why Richard Stallman has denounced it?
"But despite this, Microsoft is investing in completely modular data centers to run its planned Azure cloud and to deliver hosted versions of SharePoint and Exchange. Ozzie predicted Microsoft would have data centers in every country around the world to cater to local regulations"
Looking forward to see this fail completely in the light of financial reality ... How do they expect to compete with Google on docs services, email, calendar etc ... when google is optimizing it to the last drop by writting their code to run on BSDish systems ? On top of that Google funds this with ads only, no users subscription !
SharePoint and Exchange are immense consumers of CPU/RAM only aimed at people unable to count in SMBs. Trying to deploy it for millions of users forces you to count. A bit.
"The major lock-in for Windows in private PCs is games."
And Microsoft are doing all they can to get us to migrate those to C# and .Net over the next couple of years.
Any native apps still around in 10 years time (and I'm being extremely generous here) will be running sandboxed in virtual machines.