Standardizing in defense of Windows

It has been a while since my last entry on this blog … a lot has been going on that I have not been able to give this blog the attention that it deserves. Right now, the upheavals of a new semester are happily running amok all over. Other than that, the Pulse of the web seems to revolve around Microsoft mostly though Apple is getting a fair share of the attention as they announce the next generation of the venerable iPod.

So on to the fellows in Redmond: OOXML does not get fast-tracked to a standard but this is most definitely not the end of the story around OOXML. The questionable tactics that went on in Sweden with regard to Microsoft’s effort to ensure a “yes” vote both revealed the colors of what Microsoft is and even perhaps its intentions for the future. Yes, it is currently being painted as an action of an over zealous employee but then again of greater interest is how many Microsoft employees are willing and can go down the same path.

The now familiar adage of teaching an old dog new tricks seems apt in the context but at the same time the voting surrounding OOXML at this stage also does not discount the fact that the old dog does not necessarily need to forget the old tricks. I am more interested in the details of the manner in which Microsoft can leverage a standard that it proposed and basically muscled through the standardization process. Sure, a standard will benefit all in one way or the other and I am not going to overlook the fact that Microsoft has an overwhelming dominance in the productivity software space which means that the standards they proposal can and should be comprehensive enough to handle current office needs. However, Microsoft standardization can also be leverage by ensuring that you get the best performance from a Microsoft’s implementation (or perhaps even Microsoft sanctioned implementation – the Novells and the rest of them) of the standard. This essentially means that the majority of users will still remain with Microsoft though they are safe in the apparent knowledge that they are using a standard. OOXML vote fiasco at the SIS was perhaps the only incident that came to light which means that similar efforts must have gone into convincing other national standards bodies.

Microsoft’s standardization efforts are not only limited to productivity software and perhaps the seemingly sudden interest in OOXML standardization was prompted by ODF and its standardization but it looks like Microsoft’s standardization strategy stretches way back to the standardization of the blue prints of the .NET framework. Microsoft is centrally involved in various web services standardization efforts since web services is a concept that is baked into Microsoft’s implementation of the CLI. Mono is an open source implementation of the CLI but it seems to be lagging behind Microsoft.NET framework which means the best CLI development experience and user experience are still on the Windows platform. Silverlight seems to be an interesting case of Microsoft embracing the idea of standards and their implementation of standards on various platforms. This announcement of the release of Silverlight 1.0 includes news about support for Silverlight on the Linux platform (all versions) and for the Linux support Microsoft partners with Novell; in this case the target is obviously flash but the manner in which it is happening (the additional platform support beyond Microsoft’s own Windows) is interesting and perhaps points in the central strategy of defending the Windows dominance.

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Silverlight 1.0 has left the building! For a lightweight (1MB) release, Silverlight delivers a lot: HD video, vector graphics and animation, running on browsers from Firefox to Safari and operating systems from Windows to Linux and its myriad of distros.
In this hot-off-the-presses interview, Scott Guthrie (General Manager of the team behind Silverlight and a host of other .NET technologies) gives Dr. Sneath the inside scoop on how he thinks about Silverlight and where it’s heading in the next release.
Check out Scott’s blog post for more information.
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The Netscape threat to Windows was summarily handled and countless threats have been dealt with in similar manner but at this point I think the whole idea is to keep everything revolving around Windows because the significance of increasingly capable mobile devices may shift the center of attention to something else that is not already controlled by Microsoft. Granted, they play in the Mobile devices space through their Windows Mobile OS but their approach to mobile devices is seemingly a transplant of the rules they have perfected on the desktop to the mobile devices industry. A computer company that seems to be winning the effort to bridge computing and mobile worlds is Apple as shown by the success of their iPod and the attention they commanded with the iPhone. The iPhone is an evolution of the iPod concept but the focus for Apple with this efforts is on the hardware and the service surrounding the hardware. It may be too soon to judge the success of the iPhone but Apple seems to be doing a number of things right in this space.

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