Desktop will sink below the cloud

17 Dec 2007

Having just recovered from a fatal computer crash, I paid more than usual attention to this New York Times feature on Google's looming "office" clash with Microsoft.

With broadband that is both ubiquitous and gaining in speed, the game is clearly moving to Google's favor in delivering productivity applications online.

Right now all but 10% of applications are feasible via the online delivery model. Those 10% of apps a high-speed graphics processing, but the other 90% make up the business that's up for grabs, thinks Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Right now I'm willing to go with Google. After my Toshiba laptop suddenly expired a week ago, it took the best part of a day to get back up and running. Less than half that time involved the acquisition of a new one; most of the time was spent locating and installing software.

If that critical software had available in a cloud, I could have saved a good deal of time and stress. More usefully, I wouldn't have had to relearn how to use the software. One of the inevitable features of MS, as several hundred million Windows users know, is its tendency to complexity, to put it politely.

That, along with its agonisingly long product cycles and high prices, is a feature of incumbency.

It's also Google's opportunity.

The Microsofters emphasize this in amusing fashion with their state of denial.

"It's, of course, totally inaccurate compared with where the market is today and where the market is headed," says Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft's business division, told the Times.

A pretty standard response at this stage of the proceedings. Even as Raikes mouths those lines his employee is offering some applications and plug-ins from the cloud itself. Inevitably Microsoft is going to disrupt itself a good deal more as Google Apps grows. It's a classic disruption play.

It's also a nice business for small or mid-sized ISP to get in on. Google must surely welcome channel partners in Asia.

I'm thinking about how I make my switch to the cloud. I won't be the last.

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