Its been a tough year for Microsoft, and its only February. First, the company was attacked simply for taking .Net out of its server naming strategy. That led The New York Times to question whether Microsofts strategy was effective.
Then the SQL Slammer worm, which affected Microsoft SQL Server implementations across the planet, nearly crippled the Internet for a day. As if to rub salt on a wound, Reuters then reported that some security experts gave Microsoft an "F" in its security policies. (Talk about going out on a limb!)
Perhaps worse than those things, however, was Siebels decision to support IBMs WebSphere in addition to .Net.
To be fair, even while Bill Gates was keynoting at Siebels user conference in October, Siebel officials said the company was not limited to supporting .Net.
Now it seems that Siebel was simply hedging its bets. The IBM announcement seems bigger. After all, Siebels bet-the-company strategy revolves around UAN (Universal Application Network). Siebel officials said IBM was the first to jump on the UAN bandwagon, so IBM gets the commitment back from Siebel.
The world according to Siebel is still evolving, but it looks something like this: At least half of all packaged applications in the enterprise, such as CRM solutions, will be running on J2EE application servers; about one-third will be running on .Net servers; and there is the chance that a majority of desktops will stick with Windows and use some of Microsofts new Office technology, such as Windows Forms—a solution that provides better client features without sacrificing network capabilities.
It all makes sense—no one has a clue. But if a company is going to hedge its bets, it may as well do it with the biggest partners it can find.
I have a clearer crystal ball. Things like Windows Forms are going to be incredibly powerful as long as Microsoft doesnt exercise the perceived "lock in" that the company is known for. IBM wants to dominate the world like it did in 1989, but it feels Java is moving too slowly. Its going to start running its own extensions. Siebel will continue hedging its bets, brushing off the threat of being split apart by its commitments to two different technologies.
When will the reality behind Web services finally hit? Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.