According to this article on cnet, Microsoft’s Ray Ozzie is confident that Microsoft’s existing software business will remain secure, despite the services threat. I tend to think this is true in the short term, but not in the long run.
It’s important to separate this discussion into the platform and the applications. On the platform side, regardless of how many security holes and other problems exist in Windows, Microsoft isn’t about to lose platform dominance anytime soon. There are far too many great Windows applications for the typical IT shop to abandon Windows for Mac OS X or Linux. Although Linux has made great strides on the server side, it’s never been able to make a dent on the desktop. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
The applications side of the industry is where Microsoft is most vulnerable. Everyone knows that most users only take advantage of a very small percentage of the features in Office. So why be forced to pay a fortune for this bloatware when cheaper alternatives are all around? Because it’s easier for an IT shop to keep doing the same old thing (upgrading Office) than it is to switch to a different product. That, and the FUD that surrounds jumping off the Office bandwagon are probably the two biggest reasons why Microsoft continues to dominate in this area.
The little applications Google offers (Spreadsheets, Writely, etc.) are not a serious competitor to Office…yet…but they very easily could become a viable Office replacement down the road. But I’m not on the Google-is-the-next-Microsoft-and-will-dominate-the-world-on-every-front bandwagon some folks are on. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Microsoft Office knocked off by someone other than Google, maybe someone we’ve never heard of.
Isn’t that part of the beauty of the promise of Web 2.0, though? The fact that a complete unknown could come from out of nowhere and become a market leader…that’s what must keep Ray Ozzie and his colleagues up at night.