Microsoft's expensive investment in Facebook got a lot of press last week. So the prospect, raised in a commentary by John C. Dvorak in PC World, that Steve Balmer and crew were "duped" into making the high bid for Facebook is especially delicious. Early reports cited the ruffians from Redmond as having "won" the bidding war. Not. In a stroke of dissmisive brilliance, Google followed up the announcement by releasing their OpenSocial platform and API, signing up almost the whole A-list of serious web 2.0 players to their team including MySpace, and then; a day later, highlighting 3rd-party apps that were already coming in to support the environment. Slam-dunk. And so well done, it takes my breath away. Gives a lot of credence to Dvorak's point-on hunch. Now I admit I've got a dog in this fight. I watched quite helplessly during the late 80's as Microsoft crushed and consumed a number of my clients. Just ate em right up, with prejudice.
The high-tech industry would be far better off had Microsoft failed in attempts to stave off anti-trust constraints. But they were too big and too vocal an opponent for the Feds - who declined to break up the company when it made sense to do so. Now, the marketplace is taking care of that piece of business. And let me go on the record right now: Google has already won, and Microsoft has lost - regardless of their recently reported profit from forcing Vista down the throats of their closest partners. And the GooglePhone, which promises to change the model for wireless voice communication forever, hasn't even hit yet. The anticipation for that launch is palpable and growing.
The world is moving, as well it should, to open systems and web-based software, storage and communications services. It's a good thing. Google gets that, and is facilitating the migration - making itself invaluable in every area of web 2.0 (and beyond) in the process. It's has the air of inevitability about it at this point. Microsoft's continuing relevance to this process is not clear, and certainly not inevitable as in the past.
I've posted about Google Apps before, here. I use many of Google's useful services, including: iGoogle, Google Apps, AdWords, Blogger, Picasaweb, Google Earth, Google Maping, Google Check-out, Google Page Creator and Google Alerts. What's really cool is that by combining the free and efficient services in creative configurations I can actually architect and build my own personal system, dashboard and communications platform from a single point. I love this stuff. And if you've still got confidentially worries, there's always the Open Office Suite running on the latest Ubuntu rev. as a viable Microsoft alternative. As the various flavors of Linux mature, developers respond with more applications and Open Systems gain market share. The ultimate effect of this trend seems pretty obvious to me. And I'm sure the scenario is creating indigestion on the fabled Microsoft campus. An image I confess to enjoying.