Tag Archives: Future

Microsoft Office Live

58676031_e7d64bbc3c_m.jpgSo I was wrong. Microsoft, and not Google or Yahoo! as I forecasted, is going to deploy in short (well in short time for Microsoft means at least 5 months) an online version of Office, check www.officelive.com. This is a very clever move from Microsoft, one I really didn’t expect. Gates today announced that “We’re entering ‘live era’ of software”. While Microsoft is late (as always), its new forced online strategy (live.com, start.com, …) is surely interesting and the business models they will try to follow worth close monitoring, given Microsoft current monopoly on Desktop software. I’m more and more curious about what kind of operating system Vista will be.
More from zdnet:
Gates said Microsoft is working on two products, “Windows Live” and “Office Live,” that create opportunities for the company to sell online subscriptions and advertising. Both are targeted at smaller businesses and consumers.
The products won’t replace the company’s ubiquitous operating system or productivity suite, and people don’t need to have that software loaded to tap into the Web versions. “They are not required to use Windows or Office,” Gates said at a press event here.
Gates said that Windows Live is a set of Internet-based personal services, such as e-mail, blogging and instant messaging. It will be primarily supported by advertising and be separate from the operating system itself. Office Live will come in both ad-based and subscription versions that augment the popular desktop productivity suite.
“This advertising model has emerged as a very important thing,” Gates said.
But free products won’t replace paid software. Many of the Live releases will have payment tiers, Gates said, with the lowest levels free and ad-supported, and higher-end versions paid for by the user.
“We’ll have licenses and subscriptions as well,” Gates said. In many cases, companies will have a choice between running software on their own servers or as a Live service.
Acknowledging potential antitrust concerns, Gates said that Windows Live is built off published APIs (application programming interfaces) that its rivals will also have access to.
“It’s a dramatic sea change,” Gates said of the overall shift to online services.

Google+Sun OS announced: check Microsoft’s shares and predict the next future

[Update: re-released under CC-by for Sys-con (my blog posts are usually released under CC-by-sa)]
From Yahoo!News: Google, Sun Challenge Microsoft’s Office
Google Inc. took a big step toward challenging Microsoft Corp.’s dominance in computer word-processing and spreadsheets with the announcement Tuesday that it would distribute Java technology from Sun Microsystems Inc.
Few days ago I got a phone call, it was Jason Stamper from London, wow, I never got an interview call from London. He wanted to know about my forecast: Ajax Office available in less than one year. The article ended up in Computer Business Review and then got slashdotted. Wow, I have never been slashdotted. But let me be clear about it: I opened a project called AjaxOffice on Sourceforge because I was thinking about writing some code (I played with Javascript and the DOM model and you can create magic and this is easy-enough). I was thinking that a community would possibly gather around the project. In the process I set up a wiki and start collecting many similar projects and useful packages (some of them are Free Software). But I received many emails saying that the project is just vaporware, that I just want to get credit for something that other people are doing (I suspect all of them generated from few persons but I cannot tell of course).
So let me clear about it: yes, there is no code and, since I should write my PhD thesis and since there are already many interesting projects, I don’t have plan to write any code about it in the next few months. I plan to shout down the project shortly and just leave pointers to other Free Software projects that are already ahead creating a Web Office suite (Zimbra manages emails and contacts by now but check the video and hold your jaw (it is Free Software). But there are other intersting projects as well, just look in the ajaxoffice wiki).
Anyway, it seems that with the “one year” forecast I have been conservative.

In fact, this post is about the today joint announcement of Google and Sun. This is really disruptive for the entire computer, software industry.
Don’t you think that Google and Sun have already spoken with Hardware producers in order to have their system pre-installed on normal computers sold to normal people? I think so. And I can already foresee the scene in a normal computer shop: the seller is going to ask: “Ok, we have chosen your computer. So, which system do you want on? The crappy Windows XP or the new shiny Sun system with bright OpenOffice and Google widgets already integrated? By the way, the Microsoft one costs 100 euros more.”
Well, if you want a first idea, check the stocks: quotes of Microsoft vs Google (last 5 days) and quotes of Microsoft vs Sun (last 5 days).
And look at what Scoble keeps saying: the thick client is coming back. I understand that you have to say it but really, Scoble, do you believe your own words? Or are you secretly selling all your Microsoft stocks?
Question for you, reader: “which you would rather give up – your browser, or all the rest of your desktop apps?”. First, answer. Ok, Jonathan Schwartz, Sun President, asked this very same question to the audience at a keynote and I can imagine you can predict the answers he got.

Last point of an already too long post: having an alternative in the software market will be simply great for everyone, having concurrency is always better, having a monopoly is always worst. In this way, normal people will start undestanding that there is an alternative (TIAA), i.e. Windows is not the computer. The fact that OpenOffice is in the new system is good since OpenOffice is Free Software, software that gives you freedom. I don’t think that the Java Desktop code is Free Software (see licence) but I think sooner or later Sun will have to release it under GPL. [The fact that most of this new Google+Sun system will use online services, for which they don’t have to release the code, is the topic of another long post].
By the way, I think this is a great opportunity for a Free Software GNU/Linux system to really become available pre-installed on normal computers sold to normal people, my forecast this time is that it will be Ubuntu. Yours?

Trusted computing video

Marco Fabbri comments on my previous post about open standards and recommends me to check the Trusted Computing Video, since I’m interesting in Trust. The video overcame my attention threshold at least twice during this week but when I tried to watch it the site was always down. This time I was luckier and I must say the video is incredibly well done, and released under a Creative Commons licence!
Marco Fabbri (some initial pagerank for a new comer in the blogosphere) comments that I will find especially interesting the definition given: “Trust is the personal believe in correctness of s.th. . It is the deep conviction of truth and rightness, and can not be enforced. If you gain s.o. trust, you have estabilished an interpersonal relationship, based on communication, shared values and experiences. TRUST always depends on mutuality”.
Idea: since the video is under Creative Commons, shall we be a bit Creative and enrich the Commons? Shall we translate and dub it in Italian so that non-English-speakers can get an idea of what this is about? I could easily translate the text but I don’t have any device (trusted or not) for recording the audio.
And just in case you don’t have handy plugins for playing videos (as me), here we have some direct links to the high quality video: http://www.lafkon.net/tc/trusted-computing.torrent, http://yafc.net/TrustedComputing_LAFKON_HIGH.mov

AjaxOffice / WebOS / Microsoft starts shivering

Many possible titles for this entry on Kottke, and all of them means “start counting microsoft’s remaining days”. This is nothing too new for AjaxOffice-aware people but the article is very well written. A question for you: should the code running this apps be Free Software? I think so. Moreover, Kottke reasons that the entities who can create WebOS are just Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Apple or Mozilla Foundation.
And why not the world community starting for example developing AjaxOffice on Sourceforge?
Oh, yes, I was going to forgot; the titles of the post were:
* GoogleOS? YahooOS? MozillaOS? WebOS?
* You’re probably wondering why Yahoo bought Konfabulator
* An update on Google Browser, GooOS and Google Desktop
* A platform that everyone can stand on and why Apple, Microsoft, and, yes, even Google will have to change their ways to be a part of it
* The next killer app: desktop Web servers
* Does the Mozilla Foundation have the vision to make Firefox the most important piece of software of this decade?
* Web 3.0
* Finally, the end of Microsoft’s operating system dominance

Fast forward to the new world: 2025 and signs

I often speak about China and its role in imminent world future face to face but I think I never did it here on the blog. Anyway I’m not going to start now, it is a too long, too complex topic and I don’t see reasons for now for writing about it. But I found this image on WorldChanging and I think it makes an interesting point (an image is better than 1000 words, right?).
Their “FFWD>>” competition presents a series of themes, and asks for images set in 2005 and 2025 as illustration. Five themes have been presented so far (the image above is from “Transport”);

Seb onward

Seb decided to move onward: Professionally, it’s time to try out something new. Research does provide a good amount of freedom, but it can feel lonely and sometimes a bit detached from the action. He posted a list of possible jobs, all of them very very interesting. As a suggestion for Seb, I would add “working with commerce.net on microformats“. By the way, I forgot to mention here that I received a Flickr Pro account from Seb and I forgot to thank him. At the beginning I didn’t know what to think; I mean, I received a gift from someone I never met (but I respect a lot): this is very strange, at least to me. Anyway, Seb, I wish you all the best and I’m sure you’ll find your way in these troubled web2.0 waters.

SocialSearch: risk of moving from “tyranny of the majority” to “the daily me”

On Yahoo!Blog, while presenting its new MyWeb2.0:
The answer a web search engine delivers is what it believes is the correct answer for the majority of users – often referred to as “the tyranny of the majority”. For example, when you search for ‘apple’, the first result on most search engines is Apple Computer. But you may have been searching for information about the fruit or Apple Records.
This is a point I’m making since some years and so I totally agree that this is a problem of current search engines and I totally agree that considering personal trust networks of users is the solution to go (actually this is my my PhD research topic).
But I want also to point out, as I already did some time ago, that on the other extreme (total personalization) there is another, maybe bigger, risk: “the daily me”.
If you only see web sites, opinions, movies, etc of people you already agree with, you will never ever meet new, unexpected points of view, you will never ever need to argue your points with someone that thinks different (and possibly change your mind, at least a little bit), you will simply exacerbates your opinions, you will end up not even being able to understand the language used by people that are not in your “community” of like-minded friends!
If you are an anarchist speaking/reading only other anarchists, you will strengthen your opinions, they will become more extreme. Or if you are a catholic orthodox, or … The same is true for every group: liberals watching and reading mostly or only liberals; moderates, moderates; conservatives, conservatives; neo-Nazis, neo-Nazis. The resulting divisions run along many lines–of race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, wealth, age, political conviction, and more. Most whites avoid news and entertainment options designed for African-Americans. Many African-Americans focus largely on options specifically designed for them. So too with Hispanics

This will produce extremism and fragmentation of society and could have terrible, violent consequences.
The great book of Cass Sunstein Republic.com analyses this risk and more importantly tries to suggest a range of potential reforms to correct current misconceptions and to improve deliberative democracy and the health of the American republic.

First, people should be exposed to materials that they would not have chosen in advance. Unplanned, unanticipated encounters are central to democracy itself. Such encounters often involve topics and points of view that people have not sought out and perhaps find quite irritating. They are important partly to ensure against fragmentation and extremism, which are predictable outcomes of any situation in which like-minded people speak only with themselves. I do not suggest that government should force people to see things that they wish to avoid. But I do contend that in a democracy deserving the name, people often come across views and topics that they have not specifically selected.

Second, many or most citizens should have a range of common experiences. Without shared experiences, a heterogeneous society will have a much more difficult time in addressing social problems. People may even find it hard to understand one another. Common experiences, emphatically including the common experiences made possible by the media, provide a form of social glue. A system of communications that radically diminishes the number of such experiences will create a number of problems, not least because of the increase in social fragmentation.

I think it is time that everyone of us (especially those involved in creating personalized services, and hence in this case, especially Yahoo!) should start thinking about this problem before we are too ahead in the future. What do you think?