Monday, January 08, 2007

Okay, so I was not really back!

Welcome to 2007! The last couple of months have been hectic for me -- and probably for all of you as well. Entering entries here on Ask Uncle Mark require dedicated time and thought. Oh, I know that some bloggers just spew their thoughts down ongoing during the day, but I can't really do that. When I write something, it can't just be an unbacked opinion, or just a comment on something someone else said, but it should have back-up and some analysis. Otherwise, it is just rehashed news.

For example: last night at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Bill Gates gave a keynote on "Connected Entertainment." The "house of the future", "PC in a car", all that stuff. Today, there is a lot of blog entries and news stories about it. So -- the news is out. Not only that, these are written by people who were actually at the show. So, what can I, at Ask Uncle Mark, add to the conversation?

My answer is not to just rehash the information already available. All these people are rehashing what Bill said, and reporting that he said it. What I can add is the question: "Does it matter?" analyze the overall scene of Microsoft and computing. One keynote does not really change much of anything. I've seen several keynotes by Bill Gates over the last thirteen years, and, to be frank, his message and vision have been pretty much the same: Computing everywhere, making our life easier -- if we use Microsoft products. Microsoft, according to Bill, is there to make your life easier by making computing technology do more for you.

I try to take a broader view -- such as the above. Microsoft has been around for a long time, and Gates's vision has been consistent during this time. What has changed is that Windows Vista is bigger and does a lot more than Windows 3.0 and Windows NT. But, Microsoft was pushing pen computing in 1995 and 1996 (and earlier), and I saw my first demo of the Auto PC in Redmond in 1998. So, is this new? Not really.

So, what matters? What matters is:

1. Everything is going digital.
2. Everything is getting connected to the Internet.
3. Everything that is connected to the Internet "wants to be free."

Look at Google, Linux, Yahoo, Napster (before it was killed), iTunes (free, with $1 songs), YouTube, Skype, Firefox, Instant Messenger programs, etc., etc.

The Internet is driving the cost to communicate in all methods down, down, down -- to less than $100 per month per household. The main cost is the attachment to the Internet itself, and the cost of the computer. Even the cost of connecting is going down -- more and more communities and stores are providing free wireless internet access! Once that is in place, the rest is almost free.

So, Microsoft built this huge pig called Vista, and in actual fact, it is not much of an improvement over Windows XP. Microsoft is only in business now because Linux is still too hard to use, and Apple is preventing OS X being run on non-Apple hardware. Despite these two issues, Apple is gaining market share, and Linux use is moving up, up, up. Linux is already taking over the data center. It is far superior to Windows as a server operating system, and the tools are free.

As the year moves forward, I will post shorter, more concise posts, and see how it goes. But, if only by doing so I can add some context.

Cheers, everyone, and Happy New Year!