Microsoft's two-front war for the future

From the edge to the core, Microsoft is feeling the heat from Google and Apple -- and the downside of being chained to the desktop

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I might go further than Willis. As business employs increasing numbers of mobile devices and applications, it will become more likely that execs will consider alternatives to the traditional desktop-centric applications they now use as a default.

Google strikes at Microsoft's core
At times, Google reminds me of an incredibly intelligent 10-year-old tripping over his own shoelaces while walking down the hall to an advanced placement calculus class.

The company made a bunch of amateurish mistakes when it tried to redefine the wireless communications market with the ill-conceived Nexus One, embarrassed itself by accidentally vacuuming up data with its Street View cars, and now it's apparently made another dumb mistake by claiming that Google Apps for Government has FISMA certification when it doesn't.

My colleague Ted Samson did a good job beating on Google for its amateurishness, so I don't need to. But while Ted and others were giving it the dope slaps it deserves, hardly anyone was stepping back and talking about the implicit threat to Microsoft.

It seems pretty obvious that Google's entry into the government IT market strikes right at the core of Microsoft's business. The company already has taken some major hits in Europe, where open source is being adopted by various entities, and in parts of the United States.

Google launched Government Apps in early 2010. Doing a quick, yes, Google search on those apps doesn't show lots of traction, but there certainly is some, including the cities of Los Angeles and Orlando, the state government of Wyoming, and the Berkeley Lab, which is run by the Department of Energy. My sources at the lab say the rollout of those apps, including email, went well and there are few complaints about the switch from Office.

On the scale of things, it's probably more accurate to see those examples as the camel's nose in the tent, rather than a mass defection. Shifts in core enterprise technologies (unlike consumer tech) start slowly, but shift they do.

Ballmer is no dope, but he and his company are in a very difficult position trying to keep up with the tectonic changes rocking the technology industry while continuing to protect a revenue base rooted in the past.

Watch out for those arrows, Steve, they're likely to smart.

I welcome your comments, tips, and suggestions. Post them here so that all our readers can share them, or reach me at bill.snyder@sbcglobal.net. Follow me on Twitter at BSnyderSF.

This article, "Microsoft's two-front war for the future," was originally published by InfoWorld.com. Read more of Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog and follow the latest technology business developments at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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