Monday, January 01, 2007

John Naughton's predictions for 2007

I always read John Naughton's column in the Observer, I'm not really sure why. Sometimes he has some valid points but he seems so consumed with hatred for Microsoft that he often completely loses the plot. His predictions for 2007 (towards the bottom of this article) seem to me to be some way off the mark.

First up, we'll see the "continued decline of Microsoft". He's been predicting this for so long, he's bound to get it right at some point. Apparently Vista may be the last version of Windows, er why? There's nothing in the article to back up this theory. Also some customers may have to upgrade their hardware to run it. Nothing new there, that has been the case for every new release of Windows but isn't reason enough for it to fail.

Not only that, "The trauma of producing Vista has shaken Microsoft to the core". Really? Sure, it took longer than expected but then so does every bit of major software. He then goes on to say Microsoft has become a middle-aged company, a point that I do agree with. Of course the bigger question is whether Microsoft can continue to use its huge cash reserves and near monopoly position to overcome that particular problem.

He goes on, "the PC is no longer the cornerstone of our information ecology. The network has become the computer". Hmm, unless I'm mistaken every time I connect to the internet I do it through some kind of computer, I can't mind-meld with Google just yet. And most of those computers still run Microsoft software (about 90% of the ones that hit my sites).

Then he moves on to Google's rise. He says its dominance is "underestimated by the usual market-research statistics, which put Google's market-share in the upper forties". I agree with this point, our logs suggest Google is driving about 70-80% of our search traffic. But as the Internet Outsider points out this is not necessarily a good thing. Google is going to find it hard to increase its market share much more, so where will revenue growth come from, since most of its income is based on search?

Finally he moves onto virtualisation technologies being a big thing in 2007. He correctly points out that server farms use up a hell of a lot of resources but I fail to see how virtualisation is going to help here. Having two virtual servers running on one physical server doesn't double the processing power, since each virtual server will essentially have half the processing power of the real server, in fact slightly less due to the overhead of the virtualisation software. Where virtualisation is useful is for running a piece of software on a different OS. So a Mac can run Windows software or vice-versa. I think this could be very useful to a company like Microsoft, since it can forget about backwards compatibility in its operating system, instead letting incompatible software run in its own virtual machine, which in turn may mean their next OS release will be a little easier to get out of the door.

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