Monday, July 07, 2008

Microsoft after Gates

I have been a fan of Bill Gates since the day I grasped the beauty of the OS strategy they deployed in the PC world. Nothing to do with technical abilities, just spectacular strategy. My admiration grew when I saw the way they defended themselves from the Netscape assault, having missed the Internet completely (ok, I know, it is easier when you have a monopoly... but it is still remarkable).

Lately, I have to say I am not thrilled with Microsoft or its strategy. My feeling is that Gates has not been there enough. Now that it is official he is gone, I am seeing a dark future for MSFT. The positive note is that Bill will focus on his foundation, so I see a bright future for the world. No Microsoft dominance and better health in Africa (my brother is a Bill Gates fan, and he worked in Africa for years so he knows his stuff, whatever RMS says). I can take that.

In particular, I do not see a chance for Microsoft to be relevant in mobile OSS. Now that Symbian is gone open source, we have three open source operating systems (Symbian, Android and LIMO derivatives) that are going to dominate the market. On top of it, you have the iPhone. That's 90% of the market easily in a few years. Windows Mobile will be left with less than 10%. Even if WM becomes free (they have to make that move and it will be so painful for them), I do not think they will win market share. Their motto will be "think different" :-))

Unless they do the unthinkable: make Windows Mobile open source. That would be an incredible move, one that I think they cannot do with Ballmer at the helm.

Whatever they do, Open Source is going to dominate Mobile (man, it feels good even just to write it :-)

What are the things that Microsoft could do in the after Gates era? This article gives five tips to the big monopolist:
  1. A greater acceptance of open source
  2. A new approach to Windows releases
  3. Secure new revenue by buying big
  4. Taking the web seriously through interoperability
  5. More Microsoft than Gates
We'll see how it goes, but I am going to miss Bill...