Have Gates and Ballmer become timid? Is the browser dead?

MICROSOFT GATESAre Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer afraid of the open source Firefox team and unable to make Internet Explorer competitive? Is Microsoft rolling over and acquiesing to governments embracing open standards and open source software? Are they becoming weak and terrified about the open source paradigm shift?

Hah…don’t believe it for a second.

Increasingly I’ve watched as Microsoft continues to deliver ways to tie their cash-cow OS and desktop tools and drive them toward functioning as primary gateways to their own back-end apps & infrastructure (server products and .Net strategy) as well as enterprise applications and the internet as a whole. I’ve also observed the momentum with open standards and open source software — and the number of articles published implying that Microsoft is really, really frightened.

But think about it. Why has MSFT let Firefox gain browser market share so fast and why aren’t they embarrassed by this gain? Could it be that they no longer see the browser as a strategic, controllable gateway and don’t really care? Maybe they have something else up their sleeve that is more profound, say, tying the OS and Office to back-office applications, infrastructure, the ‘net, and everything else with the Information Worker Bridge? Will we soon see an acceleration in tools capability within Visual Studio to access the Information Bridge Framework making development of wide ranging and wholly encompassing killer applications a reality?

Reading Slashdot.org this morning I saw an article about how Microsoft has opened up the XML schemas in Microsoft Office 2003. Besides this move allowing them to potentially fend off the encroaching open source movement and Linux specifically, is this also a strategic way for them to tie the OS and desktop to the open source movement while they’re positioning themselves to be the gateway for everything else? This sure seems to me to be a *very* smart, strategic move on their part.

MSFT owns the desktop. In my opinion they’re seeing IE and the browser as being a non-issue for a user interface (UI) and they’re clearly positioning Office, the OS itself and their applications (leveraging XML and .NET strategies) to be the defacto UI to tie the internet, web services, enterprise applications (and everything digital) to a MSFT management model. Could the web browser be dead? Could a new model emerge — embedded in Longhorn v. 2.0 — that leverages all data models and provides the tools and infrastructure to glue them all together?

Even with the visible and public moves by MSFT (competition in public search and the battle of Microsoft vs. Google, alongside the fundamental research they’re doing, and the yanking of WinFS search from Longhorn) I’m gonna bet they’ve got some superUI, new data model builder on the horizon and it’ll just take them a bit more time to get there.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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