they are getting the picture. this is like deja vu time. roughly 1996, microsoft did a big about turn on the internet itself. this is captured in a good case study, "inside microsoft; the untold story of how the internet forced bill gates to reverse course", taken from businessweek, july 15, 1966
this elephant can dance. so i am by no means counting them out. but their core business model is under attack.
if you look at innovation, there are two kinds: a. technological, b. business model
microsoft has been a laggard at (a) but a champ at (b)
what is now happening is that their basic business model, which revolves around controlling the operating system, is under attack. their other idea was "good enough": not the best product, but one that is enough.
yes, it is true that there was the ill-fated thin-client approach circa 2000 by sun, oracle, etc. that was trying to do the same thing and failed miserably.
what i am claiming is that several things are making it different this time around.
a) broadband is becoming widely available (alas, in india, when they say 256kb, you actually get about 50 kb)
b) web services are becoming less wooden (ok, ajax is not as good as running the app locally, but the question is: is it "good enough"?)
c) open source has become almost respectable, including firefox and gnu/linux, apache and tomcat, (esp with IBM behind much of this) so that the FUD put out by microsoft doesn't have quite as much clout any more
d) the other party in the wintel monopoly is under attack
e) the anti-microsoft guys have a champion which is flush with cash: google
does all this amount to a slam-dunk? of course not, but microsoft is, correctly, a little worried.
we ain't seen the end of this puppy yet.