Monday, May 19, 2008

The End of the Web? Not Even Close.

Everyone's got their tin-foil hat on today, it seems.

Scoble posted this morning on twitter - http://twitter.com/Scobleizer/statuses/814823578

That if Microsoft buys Facebook and Yahoo search - the end of the web is coming.

There will be a lot shaking out from that but I wanted to reply specifically to this post on Herd Watching - Special Microsoft / Facebook Edition - The End of the Web?

where the statement is made "first off, Microsoft is just evil".

Really? I started to comment directly there but then figured it would be best as a separate post.

First off, MS buying Facebook/Yahoo search doesn't mean the end of the web. To me, Facebook and other "closed" platforms (as they are referred to) remind me a lot of CompuServer, AOL and even MSN in their infancy. The goal was to keep everyone inside their environment.

As the web grew, that changed. This is NOT about being locked into a platform and if it is, it's not going to be good for those involved.

But moreover, I disagree that Microsoft is evil.

(that said, their lawyers and some of their business practices are definitely questionable - but this post is about PLATFORM)

They are a company struggling to come to grips with a slowly crumbling platform in the current world of technology - which is hard to deal with when you were the former giant. (I say former with tongue firmly in cheek - they are still the #1 software company in the world, - at least I'm pretty sure they are. )

So they are clinging on to what they know best - the closed platform. Windows is a closed platform - but because it's everywhere, it doesn't feel like one. But guess what? The Mac is a closed platform - both hardware and software wise. iTunes/iPhone? Yup - all closed. Very few platforms are completely open.

It’s ironic because so many of the great people at Microsoft are very open - and want to share - but MS also knows that to stay successful in business, you DO want to keep people in your platform (hence the reason why they kill off product development on non-important platforms or EULA you to death).

Google is exactly the same but they fight it differently because they are open to where you want to go - they just want you to START with them and ensure that wherever you go, you see them there.

This is the web "platform" of today. (Scoble has actually said as much before so I'm surprised he's jumping all over this - although I just can't find it right now).

Struggle may be a strange word to list next to Microsoft but it is a struggle that I definitely see. It has to do with upgrades in the face of new applications. Another case in point - last year, I would look for a photo editing package to do basic photo fixes like RedEye, etc. Today, I'll use picnik or something like it.

Microsoft isn't evil - they are protecting "their own". If you own or distribute your own product, you likely do the same - and I don't think you're evil.

The main point here is that if they do buy Facebook and try to keep it closed off, they are simply prolonging the inevitable.

Even MS developers don't use ONLY MS products - they use the best tools they can get their hands on. And if that's NOT a MS product , then they try to find ways of bringing similar functionality in those products.

If you make the best products, eventually everything will/should fall into place. Because the end of the "closed platform" era is upon us. And as Ted Roche's blog originally put it, as long as the mission is "Interoperable. Competition breeds Innovation. Monopolies breed stagnation. Working Well with Others is Good.", every company (including Microsoft) will play a part.

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