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Ray Ozzie is clearly more brilliant than I'll ever be, but brilliance doesn't translate into business success. Lotus Notes, years ahead of its time granted, but in use, clunky, unintuitive, slow, convoluted. I remember having to setup the Lotus Notes client for my father, a pretty technically savvy businessman in the day and it took every ounce of smarts (or dumb luck more likely) to get him connected to the company's servers.
I was there for Groove too...much the same, unintuitive, convoluted. And Microsoft's Mesh offering...unintuitive and convoluted!
His offerings were what I've railed against for years, difficult to use, too technical solutions that require too much effort to learn and deploy to be worth the effort.
To Microsoft's credit, way to go recognizing that it isn't a fit. Windows 7 is impressive technology and they deserve props for it. But their web strategy a complete and total mess. And for those here who think I'm just an Apple fanboy, Apple doesn't seem to have figured it out either as I try Mobile Me every year or so and am underwhelmed by Apple's attempts to merge desktop and web too.
Maybe I'm just too old fashioned and desktop operating systems are just too ingrained in my way of thinking this 43 year old, but I just struggle to understand the web based apps, office suites, etc.
The best, sorry, here comes the Apple praise, iTunes...a desktop app that taps into the internet transparently to deliver content. Seems to me that's the best example yet of the benefits of desktop app merged with the internet. The worst, the web based CRM system our company uses. Just don't get it at all. I want ALL my data, ALL the time, local and if I need to sync that's fine but I want local apps and local data.
I pretty much agree with you except about ITunes, just because I don't use it. The pods from Cupertino have always been too expensive for me when I was really into music players and had the time (riding the bus/tramway transportation system to and from my university) and I don't own any Apple product that would require iTunes.
That being said, I have the same feeling about "web apps": I'm somewhat unsettled. In addition to security and privacy concerns, I think the web-based things are taking us back to the 386 and 486 era when desktop PC were painfully slow (which hasn't changed much btw). I value speed and responsiveness before features or "trendiness". But I've been frustrated for years with WinMacLinux.
In the end, I don't like the "cloud" trend and I don't believe in it. I would be more willing to adopt it if the cloud, instead of tuning our PCs into dumb terminals, was all about enabling us to access our data from wherever we are in the world. That's what I like in Opera Unite's webserver, filesharing or music streaming apps (although, before anyone mentions it, it would have been a better idea if it had been made available on all browsers). Cloud? Yes, if it means I can access my files from anywhere there is an Internet connection; I'm willing to leave a laptop posing as a server switched on 24/7, and willing to stand the lower uplink speed from my home for the rather rare times when I need to access that data.
Anyway, I don't see why any "cloud" thing would need that our data be stored at some distant place.
Web apps just happen to have cons for both enterprise and home use. These are however different and not really related.
For enterprise it's maintenance ease. For some reason Windows PC is just too hard to maintain for a typical knowledge worker that uses it at workplace. The PC is however designed around of customization and there's no way around that. So the maintenance burden (upgrades, security fixes, incompatibility) is pushed to IT support. This is not a natural way to handle a PC. Multiplied times hundreds of users times handful of applications its cost becomes unreasonable. So the workaround is too dumb down a PC to become a network terminal limiting the supportable application to a mere browser.
For home use, it's another story. With outbreak of the connectivity, the critical data moved online (to become shareable), and with webapps the principle "put apps where data is" allowing home used apps to be accessible from work has won over better performance.
The maintainability argument still holds here (try a new app without trashing your computer) has a smaller impact. Edited 2010-10-21 18:08 UTC
It's going to be interesting to see who gets to fill the shoes next, and whether they can bring some much needed sense of direction to the company.
EDIT: Reading more closely, apparently no one. Edited 2010-10-20 12:48 UTC
I'm believing that his departure wasn't a totally amiable one. His public disagreements and constant corrections of Ballmer showed that he was out of step there. And really, what power did he have? Gates got his from his stock holdings, Ballmer much the same, plus having Gates's support. But Ozzie? Nothing.
Apparently, he wasn't popular either. I wonder who is less popular there, Ozzie or Ballmer?