Windows

Sanity check: Will smartphones and SaaS unlock Microsoft's grip on the business desktop?

For business desktops, migrating from Windows to Linux or Mac almost always runs into the same road block: applications. Most businesses have such a heavy investment in Windows-compatible apps that a migration is impractical. However, as this edition of Tech Sanity Check explains, two things could change that: smartphones and SaaS.

Nearly every IT manager I know has experimented with the idea of replacing Windows with Linux for standard business desktops. Some began considering it as early as 1999. Some have even done extensive tests and pilot programs. But how many of them have done significant desktop Linux deployments on their live networks? Zero. The reason? Applications.

Businesses don't care about operating systems. Businesses care about tools that help them solve problems. Businesses care about technologies that help them deliver goods and services to their customers as cost effectively as possible. Businesses also want to partner with technology vendors they can trust to uphold their end of the deal, and Microsoft has fashioned itself into a reliable business partner.

Sure, there are a lot of businesses and IT departments that don't like being so beholden to Microsoft. They'd love to save big money in licensing fees by switching to Linux on the desktop. Some of them even feel like they could give workers a more user-friendly platform with Mac OS X to save support costs and increase productivity. However, with the exception of some developers and graphic artists, the corporate world continues to reject both Linux and OS X. According to W3Counter, which measures global Web users, Linux is installed on just 1.7% of desktops and Mac OS X is on 4.5%, while Windows XP is on 80.9% and Windows Vista is on 4.5%.

This is the reality I was talking about last week in my column Sanity check: The truth about Windows Vista adoption in 2007 when I said that businesses don't have a whole lot of realistic alternatives to Windows. TechRepublic members jeckhart23, crispbacon, and stuq didn't like that I dismissed desktop Linux so quickly. But the fact is that most businesses are too heavily invested in their Windows applications to make a switch, even if they really wanted to.

When I say "applications," I'm not just talking about Microsoft Office. In terms of office suites, Open Office and iWork have come far enough to provide viable alternatives. It's the line-of-business applications and the custom software that is built to run on Windows that really locks businesses in. Then, you add in enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relations management (CRM), and business intelligence (BI) applications and you're talking about a huge investment, all of it centered around the Windows platform on the client side. In many cases, on Linux or Mac OS X there would be no client software to access the applications that run the day-to-day operations of many businesses, and no viable alternatives.

Nevertheless, the tectonic plates of the technology industry are always in motion. They rattle markets, wipe away fortunes, and prop up new champions. There are two seismic movements that could soon change the application issue and loosen Microsoft's grip on the business desktop, which has held strong for more than two decades with DOS and Windows. The earth-rattling developments are Software as a Service (SaaS) and smartphones. Let's look at why they will change the game.

1. SaaS delivers applications that are OS agnostic

You have every right to smirk or snort. It's been at least a decade since we started hearing that all software would soon be delivered over the Internet and shrink-wrapped boxes would become relics of an analog era. This concept has been the next big thing for so long that its first set of buzzwords is already dead -- remember "Web services" and "Application Service Providers (ASPs)?"

Today, we talk about Software as a Service (SaaS) and Service-oriented Architecture (SOA). Although the acronyms have changed, we're still primarily talking about software that is more network-centric, client-agnostic, and delivered as a service, usually over the Internet. So far, this model hasn't succeeded on a large scale because there are still lots of little details -- especially in relation to security, compliance, customization, and extensibility -- that are being fully identified and addressed as part of this major shift in software.

However, a number of key breakthroughs over the past 12 to 24 months have signaled that SaaS has arrived in the real world:

  • Salesforce.com growth -- The world's most successful SaaS example is arguably Salesforce.com, which has created sales force automation (SFA) and CRM software that it hosts and delivers over the Internet. Salesforce.com grew by 58% in 2006 and 60% in 2007. It has been so successful that it changed its name to Force.com in September 2007 and is now focused on "platform as a service." In other words, it wants to sell lots of different kinds of SaaS apps.
  • NetSuite delivers -- Another SaaS company that has recently made a big splash is NetSuite, which delivers CRM and ERP software, especially to small and medium companies. Just take a look at the list of awards and praise that NetSuite has received in 2007 to gauge its impact. NetSuite has also created a platform called SuiteBuilder to help businesses reuse parts of its code to more easily create modular business apps. Plus, NetSuite touts the fact that all of its applications run on the iPhone.
  • Zoho online productivity suite -- In terms of SaaS productivity applications, Google is trying to make its play with Google Apps, but the best of breed in this space comes from Zoho. The Zoho suite is broad and growing with more than 10 applications that take full advantage of being an online experience while also expanding some offline capabilities.
  • Microsoft gets into services -- Microsoft has interpreted the tea leaves and is aligning its assets for a major move into the SaaS arena. While the first iterations of Windows Live and Office Live were relatively lame and had very little to do with their offline counterparts, Microsoft Office Live Workspace looks like a much more significant online play. Microsoft is also making a higher-level play aimed at BI, SOA, and enterprise SaaS. But most important of all, on June 15, 2006, Microsoft named Ray Ozzie as its chief software architect, succeeding Bill Gates. Microsoft has always called itself a software company, and by naming its most fervent internal SaaS advocate to its top strategic software post, Microsoft made an obvious indication of where it's betting its future.

The implications are clear. SaaS applications can be accessed via a Web browser from virtually any client operating system, and beyond that, from a lot more devices than just PCs. While SaaS won't ultimately take over all software, it will have a major impact on business applications and help trigger an era of OS and device agnosticism.

2. Smartphones are getting smart enough to replace PCs

The smartphone is the new PC. For the next generation of knowledge workers, the smartphone threatens to become their primary computing device. That doesn't mean that everyone will work on small screens -- far from it. Screens are getting larger, large screens are getting cheaper, and the line between TV and computer screens is blurring.

It's very conceivable that smartphones will soon plug into docks and then provide full PC-like capability with a standard keyboard, mouse, and large screen LCD. In fact, if you want to see this type of experience in action today, take a look at i-Mate and its line of uber smartphones. The i-Mate Ultimate 8502 is especially compelling. I saw the i-Mate products in action at Gartner ITxpo in October when they were first launched in the U.S. market. It was hard not to be impressed, and to see the i-Mate as a glimpse of the future.

Smartphones are already a major computing access device for a critical mass of users in Asia and Europe, and they're rapidly growing in North America. The race is on to make smartphones smarter and to make smaller laptops more phone-like, and all of the biggest players in the tech industry want a piece of this future.

Last week, Google announced its Android platform for smartphones, which is based on Linux and is set to take on Windows Mobile, Symbian, Palm, and iPhone in the battle royal of smartphone platforms. Intel joined the alliance of partners that has formed around Android, in a move indicating that the world's dominant PC chipmaker sees a big future in small computing devices.

Don't write Microsoft's obituary just yet. The Redmond software giant keenly understands the trends that are driving the future. At the CTIA Wireless Conference this fall, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said, "We need to bring together four powerful computing [elements] that exist today: the desktop PC, enterprise computing, mobile services running in the cloud, and phone devices... We are investing very heavily in devices and services around [the next generation] as a platform... The key thing is to provide a very consistent platform across all phones -- to leverage our learning and knowledge in writing apps for PCs and bring that rich experience to phones."

Microsoft will continue to be a major player in the business client market, but with the competition and established players in the mobile space and the reality of SaaS driving a multiple-platform future on the client-side, it's very unlikely that Microsoft will be able to maintain the dominant position it currently holds over business users with the Windows PC.

As Ballmer acknowledged, much of the future is in software services and smartphones, and that will not only open the door for more vendors to participate from the smartphone side, but it will also have the effect of gradually removing the application roadblock on the desktop PC.

That's when you will you see the Linux desktop and Mac OS X get an opportunity to expand their marketshare. Of course, by that time the PC could be migrating toward becoming a niche device that is needed only for higher-end, graphics-intensive computing, while something between the smartphone and today's ultramobile PC (UMPC) becomes the everyman platform.

Do you think SaaS and smartphones will loosen Microsoft's grip on businesses? How will the developments in SaaS and smartphones fundamentally change the way businesses purchase and implement technology? Join the discussion.

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

53 comments
allan
allan

I believe smartphones and SaaS will without doubt unlock Microsoft's grip on the business desktop for no better reasons than portability, affordability and convenience. A number of companies such as Symbian, Palm and others are already forging alliances and significant market presence with hardware - mobile phone and PDA manufacturers.

sonofzev
sonofzev

Jason, You need to check your facts with regards to Corporate Desktop Migration. While it might not have been the decision of the IT department, there has been at least one high profile corporate migration to Linux desktop - Ernie Ball guitars. (ref http://www.news.com/2008-1082_3-5065859.html). This shows a complete lack of research or a complete willingness to distort facts in MS favour. It is hard to take your commentary seriously when there is such an over site in the very first paragraph. Sterling Ball has been invited to numerous Linux and Open Source conferences to discuss his corporate migration. It's commentary like this which helps sway the minds of many not to even investigate the possibility. I'm interested to hear what your response is. cheers Allan

trentreviso
trentreviso

"Don't write Microsoft's obituary just yet. The Redmond software giant keenly understands the trends that are driving the future." This IS news. The company that called the internet a "fad", said intelligent refrigerator magnets were the wave of the future, and gave us Vista now "understands the trends that are driving the future." What happened? Did MS get bought out by Apple or Google?

kholt
kholt

No, no-one will ever want to do all their work on a phone, Macs are not really network machines and cause more trouble with their own apps, crashing, re-imaging than any windows PC and all Mac apps, OS and support are very expensive and Linux is still just awful to use on a desktop and it is not cheaper in terms of TOC, support maintenance etc or more secure - that's a really tired fallacy. Web apps, portal technology etc will become the way to communicate and collaborate and MS is streets ahead with SharePoint but there will still be the need to use other apps to work and if you are sitting in front of your PC all day you want something that makes things easier and the IT department and the comapny want something secure and robust and that doens't require too much training or support etc. Security and sustainability is also an isue - what company or person in their right mind is going to trust their data, the crtical LOB apps or their ability to meet deadlines to some servers somewhere on the Internet or to some company that is probably making a motza from selling their information or could go broke overnight?

rogerwhitt1
rogerwhitt1

ha ha ha your article sends me to preview the imate as the phone that will allow me to transcend windows MS death grip on applications in my world and the imate is windows powered ... not a mention of OSX or its associated MAC kin folk being possible ... indeed the windows logo features on the flash advertisements ... your article reminds me of the french police chief in Casablanca ... being friends with who ever appears to be winning ... your last line should have been "Well Bill i think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship..." myself i use Mac at home and for my work other than work done for less savy windows users who bought pc only cause they were not pointed to the choice... my only disappointment with my g5 has been an adobe disappointment... they do not allow livecycle designer to work on mac ... oh well ...

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

The engineers saw it work.Our OS ran everybody's applications---

P. Douglas
P. Douglas

An important thing Jason Hiner failed to take into account, is MS??? software + services strategy. Client software will always provide a better user experience and richer services than browser based apps. These things are very important to users, making it highly unlikely that the browser will displace most desktop apps. In fact, coupling web services with desktop apps, provides the opportunity for companies to complement their web sites with [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-T-yF3tXCc]desktop counterparts, which offers significantly more immersive and richer experiences[/url]. This would translate into significantly more sales, and less ???churn???. Desktop software is not a still target that can be taken out easily by the browser and other software. Desktop software is adapting to threatening models by incorporating the advantages of these opposing models into themselves. As for mobile platforms and software: these will augment the PC, not replace it.

P. Douglas
P. Douglas

An important thing Jason Hiner failed to take into account, is MS??? software + services strategy. Client software will always provide a better user experience and richer services than browser based apps. These things are very important to users, making it highly unlikely that the browser will displace most desktop apps. In fact, coupling web services with desktop apps, provides the opportunity for companies to complement their web sites with [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-T-yF3tXCc]desktop counterparts, which offers significantly more immersive and richer experiences[/url]. This would translate into significantly more sales, and less ???churn???. Desktop software is not a still target that can be taken out easily by the browser and other software. Desktop software is adapting to threatening models by incorporating the advantages of these opposing models into themselves. As for mobile platforms and software: these will augment the PC, not replace it.

P. Douglas
P. Douglas

An important thing Jason Hiner failed to take into account, is MS? software + services strategy. Client software will always provide a better user experience and richer services than browser based apps. These things are very important to users, making it highly unlikely that the browser will displace most desktop apps. In fact, coupling web services with desktop apps, provides the opportunity for companies to complement their web sites with [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-T-yF3tXCc]desktop counterparts, which offers significantly more immersive and richer experiences[/url]. This would translate into significantly more sales, and less ?churn?. Desktop software is not a still target that can be taken out easily by the browser and other software. Desktop software is adapting to threatening models by incorporating the advantages of these opposing models into themselves. As for mobile platforms and software: these will augment the PC, not replace it.

P. Douglas
P. Douglas

An important thing Jason Hiner failed to take into account, is MS? software + services strategy. Client software will always provide a better user experience and richer services than browser based apps. These things are very important to users, making it highly unlikely that the browser will displace most desktop apps. In fact, coupling web services with desktop apps, provides the opportunity for companies to complement their web sites with [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-T-yF3tXCc]desktop counterparts, which offers significantly more immersive and richer experiences[/url]. This would translate into significantly more sales, and less ?churn?. Desktop software is not a still target that can be taken out easily by the browser and other software. Desktop software is adapting to threatening models by incorporating the advantages of these opposing models into themselves. As for mobile platforms and software: these will augment the PC, not replace it.

cmnetworx
cmnetworx

Saas would make applications operating system independent. It wouldn't matter if your running mac, linux or windows, or possibly webtv you can still run the same online service. The only difference would be minor differences in the browser.. However the only downfall to this concept is bandwidth. This requires it and if your network is down, you have lost 100% productivity if your entirely dependent on online software... In defense of linux I do believe that if there was a Good alternative to Microsoft Access, and some slightly better emulation that the linux transition could be possible. I know I started using Firefox and Thunderbird, and my transition was a breeze. I have been using Ubuntu Linux for months now and I don't miss windows at all. The only downfall I can find is the lack of compatible games.. and a few other applications that don't work in linux like darkroom, etc..

Larry the Security Guy
Larry the Security Guy

Some of us Linux users have resorted to altering the message sent by our browser because of the way NBM websites treat us. A great number of sites that supposedly only work with IE actually do work in Firefox and Konqueror. And for those sites that don't work with anything but IE (shame on the programmers), I installed IE under Wine to get there. Works pretty good. I wouldn't doubt that others have done likewise. So it seems to me that the Linux count is not accurate. It's not big, and I agree with that, but I think it's a little bigger than 1.7 percent.

aaron
aaron

I'm sure it will help. SaaS though is scary to some folks. A lot of SaaS companies have there hosted service but also allow companies to install the application on the companies own inhouse servers. As far as Linux on the Desktop. In my experience it takes a mandate from high up to switch over. People will continue to pay Microsofts ridiculously priced software if not given a mandate cause humans are creatures of habit and are scared of the unknown. Windows admins know nothing of Linux and for the most part are MS fanboys cause they don't know any better and won't even give Linux a fair shake unless they are forced too. Linux is cake once you give it a shot. My company has been MS free for 7 years all cause of a mandate from the CEO. He said you've got 6 months to get rid of Windows. We haven't looked backed. Started of with all Linux. Now we have Linux on a few Workstations and have switched all of our servers over to Solaris. All in all SaaS is definitely loosening Windows grip on the Desktop as long as they have support for Browsers other than IE. Most do, but I've looked at some HR related SaaS in the past that required IE. Lame. Even if I still worked in a Windows environment I wouldn't allow any users to use IE.

major.malfunction
major.malfunction

The lack of enterprise styled and support LINUX apps for end users and the great leap forward in Smartphones/Widows Mobile 6 would lead me to believe that Smartphones have a big lead. LINUX has been around for years, yet I can't think of any ENDUSER (note, I said enduser!) that is saying anything about LINUX on the desktop, when is the next version coming out, etc. And before you think I'm a LINUX basher, I had to lead an almost single handed crusade to get my company to go almost all LINUX on our production platform and as our developer platform of choice. I think RedHat Enterprise LINUX is just incredible and other IT people just don't know what they are missing. However for the desktop, it would seem that if the average user can't diagnose/troubleshoot Windows issues there is just no way they can do anything in LINUX. Try explaining to an end user that a CD must be mounted before you can use and unmounted before you can eject it. Huh? What? And LINUX backers (this means you!) just say "oh its easy!". Uh...if using an OS was easy, people like you and me wouldn't have high paying jobs for a living. Duh! So you will just have to face up to the fact that end users have little to no desire to put LINUX on their destop at home or at work for the simple fact they have no idea what it is and have no compelling reason to switch right now. Windows gets the job done and has a billion apps available for it. And having recently purchased a Windows Mobile 6 smartphone, I can easily see how it will gain huge market share and take over the world. I can get out to the Internet at 2Mbps, type emails, read adobe docs, do 99% of my Microsoft Office apps, play games, watch a movie, have 4GB of storage, etc. If this is just the beginning for smartphones, then LINUX doesn't have a chance at the phone level. If they can't/haven't cracked the desktop after 10 years, how the hell are they going to do anything at the phone level?

bizomx
bizomx

I sincerely think they can but I don't think that the SaaS and smartphones are the only threat to MS. We see more developments in the Linux community which is steadily taking away the interest of MS at a very fast phase.

DanLM
DanLM

Has anyone looked at internet based applications being hosted by the business's them selves? Word, Excel, what ever? I don't know all of the companies that were listed in the article, but I am assuming(yea, I know. Never assume) that they will store these documents themselves and not the companies that use their service. Is there a solution offered that allows the companies to offer the internet app's to it's users and also store these documents? Yea, I know... Stupid question. Dan

fredrik
fredrik

Even with the caveat at the end it seems the author of the article is assuming microsoft will stand still. That has been predicted many times before, for some strange reason MS still has an 85% market share, why is that then?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I started reading it hoping they would mention how many desktop systems were involved. I expected less than 25, but was surprised to read over 70. Unfortunately, the one quote from Mr. Ball that really stuck out was, "...the developers need to start writing the real-world applications people need to run a business...engineering, art and design tools, that kind of stuff...They're all trying to build servers that already exist and do a whole bunch of stuff that's already out there...I think there's a lot of room to not just create an alternative to Microsoft but really take the next step and do something new." A lot of us have been saying similar things. Maybe having it confirmed by someone who's actually taken the leap will both support our argument and motivate some aspiring developer to take a crack at these apps.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Congratulations, you found one! All kidding aside, I merely said that none of the IT managers that I know have ended up doing a significant deployment of Linux on the desktop, even after years of testing and considering it. That doesn't mean that there are no companies out there running desktop Linux. It's just very rare. I've read about a few cases, just like you have, but that doesn't change the facts or the big picture. Nevertheless, thanks for the link. I do keep track of stuff like this and I'm looking forward to reading further about this case.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

If you're in IT, it's always your fault. Even if it's user error or the phone company accidentally cuts off your T1 line. SaaS won't change that.

DanLM
DanLM

Where ya been. Quick, help me hide from the government. They control Microsoft now... They are tracking all of us. Dan

fjp
fjp

Aside from the likely miscount of Linux (and all those browsers pretending to be IE), there is the missing 8.4% to consider. I imagine most of these are Windows 2000 and 98 (plenty of those left) but it would be good to remind MS that there is a significant number of such users who are just ripe for a switch to Linux if they want to keep their existing hardware...

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

The Linux number is probably between 2-3% because of the issue that you mentioned.

sonofzev
sonofzev

Quote "However for the desktop, it would seem that if the average user can't diagnose/troubleshoot Windows issues there is just no way they can do anything in LINUX. Try explaining to an end user that a CD must be mounted before you can use and unmounted before you can eject it. Huh? What? " Neither Ubuntu or Sabayon require this and there are a number of other Desktop focussed distros. Also, a nicely tailored and fully tested SOE should mean the desktop user doesn't need to troubleshoot at all. All apps should be locked down and all upgrades planned and deployed. The users home directory should be on a backed up network space. In the case of a problem the desktop support people could quite easily check /var/log and find out the issue and if it isn't something in /var/log then most linux apps provide easily understandable error messages. cheers Allan

DanLM
DanLM

Smart phones, sorry... I have a hell of a time seeing my PDA... And my cell phone... yea, ok. And I am not trying to be a smart a$$ here... Not everyone(and this is a large chunk of people) have the physica capabilities of being able to usee something that small and perform their jobs. I can't.... Look around at your friendly office workers... How many wear glasses? Dan

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

There's a tool called ThinkFree that is essentially an online hosting and collaboration mechanism for Microsoft Office docs. It's SaaS but the user controls their own docs. There's also Groove, which Microsoft already owns. It's basically on online P2P tool for sharing docs, but it only works on Windows. There's a similar tool called Collanos - built on JXTA - that works on Windows, Linux, and Mac. It's free. Of course, there's also SharePoint, which is an intranet/extranet portal that can be used for document sharing and collaboraton. Citrix, Terminal Sevices, and virtualization could also play a part in the type of scenario that you're talking about - and it's certainly a viable alternative.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

If not, what are you looking for that differs from TS?

dford
dford

One of the main points of the Internet based software is that it is accessible anywhere - even away from the company servers. Two of the things that hold SaaS back are the unreliability of Internet connections and the fact that storage is getting cheaper - so the cost savings of having all your data storage outsourced are becoming less important. Small screens are OK providing you are in your twenties - or can remember where you put your glasses! - David

DanLM
DanLM

And spent an equal part of the article covering that. Dan

aeisenberg
aeisenberg

The next big thing on the information highway is invariably roadkill. I would take a bet, however, that SaaS will help companies derive more value from their networks by allowing purchase of a more measured use of software. Need MAC-infused Photoshop for a few days, you have it. Need PowerPoint for a temp. worker on a 90-day assignment, you have that too. Enhanced flexibility to use the right app at the right is a good trend for all.

aeisenberg
aeisenberg

The next big thing on the information highway is invariably roadkill. I would take a bet, however, that SaaS will help companies drive more value from their networks by allowing purchase of a more measured use of software. Need MAC-infused Photoshop for a few days, you have it. Need PowerPoint for a temp. worker on a 90-day assignment, you have that too.

dtroup
dtroup

Ok, so I have my smart phone on my desk which deals with my phone calls, my email, my report writing, basically any work I have to do. What happens if the hardware dies, or it stolen or I drop it in my coffee when trying to dock it? Instead of being unable to connect to my email until that part of my system has been fixed I have to wait for the whole system to be replaced. Is this really practical?

david.humpherson
david.humpherson

I agree that applications are the main thing holding back the adoption of Linux as a business desktop. OS X has the added problem of being tide to artificially expensive hardware and would do much better if you could install it on generic X86/X64 hardware.

ibagnald
ibagnald

I think an element missing in this analysis is the thin client. Sure smart phones are the way of the future for the road warrior SOA/SaaS will eventually become stable and secure enough to make sense to enterprises, but there is still a large portion of employees that perform a few functions in their job day to day such as data entry and administrative work. These people do not want to take their computers home with them, nor would their employeers wish them too. As computers become more powerfull it has become increasingly inefficient to put a desktop PC on every employees desk. These non-mobile members of the workforce will find thin client computing return, and Microsoft does not have to be the vendor of this resurgent technology. Once upon a time it was impossible to put a computer on every desk, people used dumb terminals with green screens to interface with mainframes. As computers become more powerfull I believe we will see a return to this architecture in the enterprise, the difference being that thin clients will be indistinguishable from todays PC's in their ability to run applications, employees will just have a lot less on their desks.

tim.hayes
tim.hayes

As an ISV I took a very serious look at the Linux desktop in the past 3 years in the hope that Linux brought a new dawn and a new market. My major disappointment lay in the lack of an underlying architecture that allows programs to talk to each other and share interfaces. There are literally tens of thousands of business applications that are in use today which integrate with (say) MS Office products or Outlook. There are a multitude of programs which make use of the Shell API, or call and use Windows routines. It is this infrastructure which Linux completely lacks and is why in my mind wihtout it, Linux will never progress beyond being a 1st class server. As for SaaS, these types of applications are surely only successful either (a)because they currently represent the best way to deliver applications that need to be accessed externally from the corporate network and also at times by third parties or (b) because they repesent affordable access to large-scale applications. But, SaaS does not represent discontinuous technological evolution. Smartphones, WiMax, bluetooth and whatever provide, in combination, the platform for a new era in computing that could sweep away the desktop. However, Microsoft seems well prepared with a host of new offerings and I suspect that the area for innovation and change will be in application architecture that takes advantage of such new hardware and communication technologies.

Rawbit
Rawbit

Businesses also need more to motivate them into going to Linux. Can you say P-R-O-A-C-T-I-V-E? Two thing should motivate all of us: 1) If anyone had followed the litigation against Microsoft by the U.S. Government years ago, he would see a key significance in the fact that towards the end, Bill Gates became emotional and accused the government of a "conspiracy". That was followed not too long after by a calm agreement between MS and the Gov. This entails that the Gov is virtually in control of MS now, and seeks to keep MS as a virtual monopoly. Yes, the country and world is heading fast towards "socialism". Look that up and you will see it means that the "means of production" become controlled by the government. This should motivate businesses to take the dive into Linux NOW before it becomes too difficult. And when it is too difficult, it will be sink or swim. Business venture thrive on some gambles, but a proactive gamble is hardly so - it means being smart about the future, not just making a buck this year. 2) Directly associated with this is that now that the U.S. has control in the Middle East, the prices of oil just happen to rise? This is part of the squeeze play in turning the world socialist (yes, the same goal the Communist have had but without their brand of military action which is hardly necessary). Get motivated, turn to Linux now before it is too late. Linux entails "freedom" in the business world. Ubuntu appears to be a desktop of choice with CentOS for the server side.

Zaitoshi
Zaitoshi

It will take a great amount of time before everything works like we are used to. Besides that, internetbased applications are still regarded as "acceptable" at best due to the enormous number of potential risks involved when transmitting business-critical information over a inherently insecure medium such as the internet. In order for SaaS applications to become a viable alternative to solutions such as SAP and Office, they will have to be instantly accessable, as secure as they can possibly be, globally available and most important of all: cost-effective. I don't see that happening over-night, but give it a few years, say 5 to 10, and we'll get there eventually, for the time being, the desktop computing market is still very much alive, and Microsoft will continue to thrive in this market.

tony.reid
tony.reid

I think your a bit too quick to dismiss Linux Desktop. The Spanish government switching to Linux throughout its enterprise? http://localfoss.org/node/193 Also, Disney, IBM, Novell and many film companies are using Linux on the Desktop. According Linux format(uk magazine), migration is also happening throughout China including schools and universities in an effort to not be reliant on an American technology. I cant remember the exact figure but I think it was 300,000 desktops. In the past year - Linux has become a great platform for desktop use. But... as you rightly say - its the applications that drive business - not the operating system. But what seems to be amiss here is that Linux is perfectly capable of running many windows apps (including Microsoft Office, Lotus Notes, Microsoft Project and Visio, graphics applications like Dreamweaver MX, Flash MX, and Adobe Photoshop and lots more). And it does this without emulation or ms license issues and I'd like to add operating as fast as any native app running on windows. For Free http://www.winehq.org/ Or commercially supported http://www.codeweavers.com/products/ Your explanation on distribution figures seems to forget that the reason Windows is so widely distributed - *is because it is put on machines before it gets to the user* - The user has no choice. If the user had a choice then over time the uptake of linux would increase significantly. Please don't think I am here to bash Microsoft - I'm not. I use XP on my desktop and Ubuntu linux on my laptop everyday. Some things are done better in Linux and others in Windows. Neither OS is perfect.

DanLM
DanLM

ok.... I need to step back here a moment and think about this. Dan

DanLM
DanLM

I know I didn't do a good job of describing my question. I wrote that this mornin between coffee and getting ready for work. Sorry about that. Dan

DanLM
DanLM

[i]Small screens are OK providing you are in your twenties - or can remember where you put your glasses![/i] I started using a pda for personal organization... Damn that sucker can be hard to read. And I have my glasses on the end of my nose. I have some pdf ebooks on it that I use constantly. I shouldn't even have bothered... Dan

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

In a corporate environment, you'd just call the help desk and have them trot out another one. This scenario isn't really all that different from 10 years ago when everything was on your PC and cell phones only made phone calls.

Donbans_z
Donbans_z

Very good analyses. Smartphones in particularly have their place in the computing world. I do not see any real business making a switch from using a full blown desktop as a productivity platform, to using smartphones (same like no real business will allow Iphone as a corporate phone today!). Let me see.... how do you edit graphics. Let me guess... using the Iphone or another smartphone? Wrong! With thin clients, this could be possible. Smartphones on the otherhand, impossible. Smartphones today are almost like any other computing platform with a cellular radio that is built into them. Maybe for home users where security and other business critical needs are not important, smartphones can replace regular computers in smaller computing features like search, light browsing and maybe some degree of entertainment. But the use of smartphone is so limited for security, and data presentation. SANITY CHECK: What platform would you want to watch Monday Nite Football? On your tiny display smartphone screen or a 60 Inch Plasma Display TV? Or maybe a 21 Inch Computer monitor. I think we know the answer. Smartphones are in a completely different arena in IT as desktop. No comparism here... I am sorry. SaaS on the other hand would only complement the desktop. It can not and will not replace it.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

could work hand-in-hand. Your smartphone could be your thin client terminal for accessing your virtualized desktop when sit at your desk and plug it into a dock.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

An important part of the success of Windows as a platform has to do with the underlying COM foundation that allows apps to communicate with each other and the OS. I'm glad that you brought that up. One of the foundations of SOA is the ability to modulize applications, allow applications to exchange data, and reuse components. If successful, it could go beyond what COM has done on Windows, but it will depend on the establishment of open standards.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

... a bit much (that is). I agree that more people could realize benifits in using FOSS (regardless of OS platform) but leaping to a conspiracy linke between technology and politics is a bit of a stretch. At least in the US, the citizens get a chance to vote every four or so years though hopefully this time they'll vote more intelligently.

Donbans_z
Donbans_z

could make things work better for your linux world. This is one of the dumbest linux argument I have ever read. My oh my... ignorance could be a curse!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

They're right over head. Dude, you are posting some very speculative stuff. "The government controls MS." "The government will control production." "The U.S. controls the Middle East." "The U.S. is turning the world socialist." "CentOS is the Linux choice for servers." Can you provide links or facts to back any of this up?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

That will teach me to try to answer before I've had my first Diet Pepsi of the morning.

Slvrknght
Slvrknght

After the first 4 years with our current pres-uh-dent but, lo-and-behold, the morons were out in force again, four years later and put him back in office. Sometimes, sometimes I cry myself to sleep....

Rawbit
Rawbit

CentOS is "a" server of choice, not necessarily "the". As for all the rest of what I posted? Research into why Bill Gates accused the Fed of a "conspiracy" against him just a few years ago nearing the end of his litigation, and you will be on the right track to a reality that is independent of Mass Media focus. A Mass Media careful not to focus on that now that a deal between the Fed and MS has been made.

DanLM
DanLM

I can't fit under my bed anymore. I'm keying this from the confides of my closet. Ahhhhh, crap... They are tracking my wireless single... I can hear them breaking down the door. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh d......

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