Please Bill, no more platform wars

During his keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Microsoft chairman Bill Gates presented his vision of the second digital decade.

Gates sees the Internet as being all encompassing, with users being able to access services and store personal data in the Internet cloud. This sounds very much like what Sun chief executive Scott McNealy was speaking about over a decade ago when he famously said, “The network is the computer.”

It may not be obvious, but this is very much the way computers are used today. Imagine how much of a disappointment the new PC you bought in the sales would be, if it lacked an Internet connection.

Readily available low-cost Internet connectivity has meant that we can, indeed, store and retrieve documents from any device via the Internet.

This blog entry, for instance, has been written using a mobile phone with Internet access, on a train with wi-fi connectivity.

My point is that Gates’ so-called second digital decade is here now. And it is marked by Microsoft losing control of the developer community that has made Windows the most dominant desktop and server OS. Perhaps the first decade was marked by the battle betweem Java and .net and Macromedia. Today developers can using programming interfaces into Google, Facebook etc.

For what it’s worth, I think the second decade of the Internet wll be marked by the end of the ludicrous platform choices we seem to make today. Instead, the platform will be the Internet, the browser will be the universal client and applications will be weaved together as mashups using web services.

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