Of course, "cloud" isn't really the right word. That was the thing about software -- you could run it anywhere. On a client, or on a server, or on both at the same time -- what's the difference? Well, none of course. Same goes for operating systems and applications -- no difference, necessarily. People get stuck on the old concepts. Funny, back when we were pulling all the apps into the operating system, it was a crime. Ten years later, we've pulled the operating system into the applications (virtualization! now there's a word you never hear anymore), and no one blinks twice. And what's the difference? Not much. Idiots.
OK, sure, there's one huge difference. That's the whole point. Now that the OS travels with the apps, Office runs everywhere -- handhelds, laptops, desktops, wherever you like, even on Linux. Boy, did that one blow their minds. Almost as big as the shock we created when we rolled the OS (and everything else) into Office and killed the Windows brand. But like Steve and I agreed, if you're not running Office, then you don't need Windows. And as long as your software streams from Office.com, then we don't care where it lands. Run it on Linux or even a Mac, if you can still find one.
Hard to believe there was a time when people thought they would run serious apps in a Web browser. I guess maybe they thought they would have to. Gotta admit, we were really milking that Windows and Office cow. Still, Google apps? In a Web browser? I love the way Ballmer put it that one time, during that meeting with Jerry Wang and Yahoo. Running an app in a Web browser is like living without a penis. Exactly. Boy, I wonder what Jerry Wang is doing these days. Idiot.
Well, Steve and I can laugh now. Steve did a super job of keeping the train on the tracks. Like I told him when I stepped down, keep doing what you're doing. All the important pieces are in place. Keep hiring the best engineers, and make sure we've got our hands in all the important stuff. But don't give the engineers too much control. Engineers always want to be first, and that's the one sure way to kill our business. The shift to "on demand" is going to happen, but not how people think. It's still the software market. We own it today, and we'll own it tomorrow. Let's not be in too much of a hurry.
Yeah, everything worked out just fine. Soon as the Chinese banks hit a rough patch, we'll be No. 1. Even now, why can't people see that software is bigger than money? Anyhow, Steve was smart to hire all of those business guys. They really held the course. I'd much rather spend time with engineers than the MBAs -- I just had to get out of there. But you gotta admit, engineers have no business sense. Engineers would put a kitchen in a skateboard if you'd let 'em. Idiots.
See what other futures may be in store for Microsoft:
Overview of Microsoft's post-Gates challenge
1. The "Borvell" scenario
2. The "slow decline" scenario
3. The "streaming" scenario
4. The "Oort services" scenario
5. The "Gates was right" scenario