Microsoft 2.0

As someone who works closely with Microsoft, I’m very interested to see what happens to the company as Bill Gates steps aside. Changes are already afoot – anyone who has attended a recent marketing event (like the 2008 launch wave) will have heard about the idea of software plus services – and some of Microsoft’s partners need to start thinking about their own business models as hosted services become more and more attractive to corporates.

Two years ago, I wrote that I didn’t think the “webtop” would replace the desktop. I still think that is true – enterprises are not yet ready to store their data in “the cloud” – but things are starting to change and there seems little doubt that web services are the direction that were all heading in. Windows and Office will be here for a while yet but Microsoft desparately needs to get a piece of the action if it is to stay relevant – hence their failed attempt to buy Yahoo!. Meanwhile, rather than follow the Google model of storing everything in cyberspace, Microsoft Live Mesh looks at how to make data accessible by connecting people, processes and technology – wherever they are.

Last week’s Windows Weekly podcast (episode 57) featured an interview with Mary Jo Foley, author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft Plans to Stay Relevant in the Post-gates Era. I’ve not read the book yet (it’s on my Amazon wishlist) but it may be interesting to track the accompanying blog – Microsoft 2.0.

Personally, I’m glad that Microsoft didn’t launch a hostile bid for Yahoo! and instead withdrew their offer. It seems pretty clear that the Yahoo! Inc. management team would rather have hit the self-destruct button than become part of Microsoft Corporation and, to me, that implies a degree of immaturity. Meanwhile, Microsoft can keep their cash and move forward with their software plus services model. When one of the world’s largest companies has to borrow money for a takeover, that’s not a good sign – and that’s an awful lot of money that they could do something useful with.

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