The Revolution Will be Advertised

Opinion: Microsoft is moving to an ad-supported Web Services model, but what does that mean for user expectations and privacy?

Are Web services going to be the Next Big Thing? Is the future going to be ad-supported?

Apparently Bill Gates thinks so. In an Oct. 30 memo recently leaked to the Net,Gates states that "This coming services wave will be very disruptive," going on to state that Microsoft has "competitors who will seize on these approaches and challenge us." He goes on to point out that "This next generation of the Internet is being shaped by its grassroots adoption and popularization model, and the cost-effective seamless experiences delivered through the intentional fusion of services, software and sometimes hardware."

Clearly, the folks at Microsoft are worried about a plethora of new competitors such as Google, Skype, Adobe and others whove risen to prominence over the past few years, some seemingly out of the blue. More and more software that used to reside on the desktop is beginning to be deployed on the Web via technologies such as AJAX. Google and Sun have teamed up ostensibly to promote the Google Toolbar through downloads of Suns Java Runtime Environment, but rumors of some sort of "Google Office" coming out of the combo still continue to float around. Adobes PDF formatis fast becoming the online document standard. Bills getting nervous.

And with good reason. The seemingly air-tight strategic decision to integrate the browser with the desktop that Microsofts been working towards for years may end up being its Achilles heel, providing an open window (pun intended!) into which competitors can reach Microsoft customers. Adobes dominance of the document market eats away at the necessity for everyone in the world to own Office (though Microsoft is apparently readying their own document format named "Metro."Linux and other open-source solutions gain more and more traction all that time. And Firefox continues to pull more and more folks away from Explorer.

Microsoft intends to respond to the challenges in a couple of interesting ways. According to the Gates memo, Microsoft must "provide a broad set of service APIs and use them in all of [their] key applications," integrating Internet Services into all their software and providing the development tools that the legions of Microsoft developers out there will need in order to deploy new (presumably Microsoft-centric) applications on the Web.


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