Debate is growing over whether Google poses a viable threat to Microsoft's dominance of the personal-computing sector.
Over the past 10 years, the Web system has certainly rigidified. To the point that in 2005, Microsoft sees Google, the bigco most likely to roll out a WebMachine, as the major threat it's feared all along.
Web logs and discussion forums lit up with talks of how computing may evolve in the near future, and whether a shift toward using the Web as a primary computing platform could leave companies like Microsoft to go the way of the dinosaur.
In response, Microsoft is integrating MSN into its platform product development group, where Windows is developed. It's too early to know how this will play out, but one thing is for sure--the Web is on an equal footing with Windows for Microsoft now. It took them 10 years to fulfill the destiny that one of their smart engineers, Ben Slivka, mapped out for them in May 1995. But will it be enough to stop the WebMachine?
The possibility of such a drastic transformation is nothing new to the software giant: Memos dating as far back as 1995 reveal company executives' concern that the Web could become the next platform and that if Microsoft did not push innovation on that front, it could lose its hold on market. Now, with Google's umbrella of services widening, some industry watchers have begun to wonder whether that day is on the horizon.
Even those who feel current Web technology is advanced enough for it to become a viable platform disagree about who is better fit to bring it to the mainstream.
Many who have joined the discussion say the time is right for such a shift--that the Web has matured enough to take a more prominent role in application development. But others see the lack of broadband adoption on a global scale as an obstacle that will keep such a change at bay for years to come.
Google is widely viewed as a young, innovative company whose primary focus is the kind of Web services that would lead the personal-computing platform online. And to be sure, in the blogosphere, there is no shortage of the sentiment that Microsoft is a company whose prime time has long passed.
But many feel that Microsoft is more nimble than it gets credit for being. They believe that the company not only sees the challenge that lies before it, but also has the business savvy, development skills and--maybe most important--the money to forge ahead with a new strategy.