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Summary:

Like clockwork, every twelve months Bill Gates gets up on stage and delivers a keynote at the CES, outlining his vision of the future, demoing products and PowerPoint-ing his way through a wide array of products. He takes a few well deserved swipes at His Jobsness. […]

Like clockwork, every twelve months Bill Gates gets up on stage and delivers a keynote at the CES, outlining his vision of the future, demoing products and PowerPoint-ing his way through a wide array of products.

He takes a few well deserved swipes at His Jobsness. The undercurrent in his big speech – Microsoft will be everywhere in the future. To hammer in the point, he meets with bloggers who don’t exactly ask the tough business questions. Somehow the future doesn’t happen.

This year was no different, though I have to admit, Microsoft’s vision does look quite tasty. Tasty enough, that this time it might actually happen. I am not holding my breath, just like I am not holding my breath for an Apple Phone, or an iTV box as part of Steve Jobs’ Macworld keynote. Nevertheless, my opinion doesn’t really count, given my Mac bias, what do you folks think? Take our poll, and rank the chances of Microsoft domination of the digital future.

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  1. It seems that Microsoft will inevitably win out in the digital distribution world. They’re the first to deliver a secure (from Hollywood’s perspective) platform for content. I haven’t even heard anything about HDCP in Leopard.
    Microsoft’s reach is a lot greater, as well. Apple’s sold a lot of iPods, sure, but Microsoft’s DRM is much more flexible (again, from a content-owners perspective), and eventually things will shift in that direction. Apple could stem the flow if they opened up and started licensing, but they never will.
    With Xbox360, Microsoft already has an HD-capable set top box in nearly 10 million US homes. It’s already a media extender, offers HD movie rentals, and they’re planning an IPTV rollout (though that’s still nebulous to say the least). I just don’t see how Apple competes with that.
    Apple will, no doubt, come late to the party with some really good products. In the end, just like their OS, they’ll not capture the same marketshare that Microsoft will in the living room of the “digital future”.

  2. Aaron Johnson Monday, January 8, 2007

    I believe they will be very influential in the sense of Microsoft has something that works. That is a formula and knowledge that is complimented well by resources. MS’s formula has a lot to do with trends when it comes to consumer products where the digital age is more targeted to. Market trends are more about the advertising, rather how good the product or service really is. Hence all that Microsoft is throwing at the Xbox360, from movie downloads to live television; – oh forgot to mention the gaming – once they have a community it is then a trend setter. It is never hard for a company that just for the 360 and Zune alone, has an advertising budget for a few hundred thousand shy of $1 Billion USD – for two (yes those 2 fingers) products.

    Granted these technologies and services that make up the digital age has been silently growing for years away from Gates labs, Microsoft is the one who has the implementation power and resources to create new fads, and commodity based products and services – software and hardware. In any of those aspects Microsoft has the power and minds to enter any area they please. Take a look at the history with other competing companies from Netscape to a wimpering Novell – point blank Microsoft knows what is good out there and have the bank roll to replicate or monetize just about anything to a further degree .

    On a wider scope or should I say more in the future we the people are going to run the digital age as we are doing with the internet now. It is all about evolution and growing which that is what the internet has become. It is an ever growing portal of information where everyone can use it now to their advantage. The internet is growing through the people and from our material and so will the digital age. We will see others start taking their new and improved cell phones, PDA’s, UPMC’s and the like with camera features to start their own content reservoir. If it is interesting and gains an audience, there will be solutions to get your media viewed even more. This will push people, just as fame for open source, and elaboration for the internet. Could be YouTube cleaning the crowds up, or video blogging to be iTuned, or getting a channel for a few IPTV services like TVP – people will push harder to copy the trends, not just follow them (view).

    We have to think of how cheaper material and information is becoming for this as well where anyone can be a journalist, singer, movie star, host, at their own level easily. So this is why I say Microsoft will have a big hand in it but it will involve showing the users how to get things done, how to implement, platforming, etc… So I have to say they will be a huge influential father to the digital age that is being made up, under the sense they have a wider audience that wants to learn and the digital future we are controlling.

  3. I think MSFT will be a player – not the player in digital entertainment. The internet will become the distribution channel and everyone one else will be just a enabler – transferring bits to different devices.

    http://www.onlinevideopunch.com

  4. MS is brilliant at selling to enterprise or going to corporations and selling them a turnkey solution for digitizing and DRming their content but they are CLUELESS about selling to consumers. They’ve had a 90-95% market share for 15 years and what have they managed to sell besides PC’s? NOTHING.

    Hell,, they can’t even get anyone to use MSN search and it’s one click away from google – CES likes to get bigwigs to talk the keynote but really CES is about alarm clocks, telephones and wiring – like having Mike Dell there, he’s really a visionary? He’s a super smart salesguy who figured out how to squeeze another $.07 from wiring – great for him but a visionary? bwhhahaha – as for BG’s keynotes, just go back and re-read or listen to his previous keynotes. He has ZERO clue about consumers because he’s not interested in anything we are – can you even picture him listening to music or watching movies or a TV show that isn’t a CEO roundtable? BG’s keynotes and “predictions” could have come from me or you – if the guy from Radio Shack says those exact words, no one would care.

    MS is great at enterprise and selling to them but they do not know how to sell to consumers except at a great loss

  5. i think that “own” won’t mean what, a half-decade ago, it looked like it might

    and the reason for that is that we’re entering a new phase of relevance for the Web browser itself, not just content over IP enjoyed through specialized apps

    my favorite example of the moment of how MSFT has a lot of the pieces in place to LEAD the way into the digital future (whatever about “owning” it) but for a variety of reasons is NOT pulling it off in the way they could is: http://gigagamez.com/2007/01/06/nintendo-leading-the-way-in-the-digital-age/#comment-213

    of course, that very example also points out the continued relevance of WINDOWS in the new phase of the Web ecosystem – because of all those hundreds of millions of hard drives out there with folks’ personal media on them, with broadband connections, etc.

    it’s a bit ironic that the big M’s key asset in its battle with google (on both the consumer-media and the IW fronts) is precisely that its primary ecosystem asset – windows – is more distributed

  6. Jesse Kopelman Monday, January 8, 2007

    You need another choice: not own, but be a major player. Influential, but marginal player is more an Apple sort of thing.

  7. Your poll is fatally flawed. As somebody who thinks Apple will be influential… hey, they make actual products instead of pre-announcing vaporware years before they come out (with featuresets close to what consumers expect)…

    My only choice to say Microsoft won’t make much of a dent in the digital home is to sound like your stereotypical Apple fanboy – and call others a demeaning “Microserf”.

    Sorry, but your MS bias shows in your poll selections. Sigh.

    Or is that a “heh”, since as an owner of AAPL for a few years now I’m well past doubling my money. (Can’t say that abour MSFT this century.)

    Peace.

  8. Microsoft will be influential due to their dominance in the desktop, due to their financial strength and they have been working on number of related technologies. The got fair chance of becoming #2 or #3 player.

  9. Microsoft is doomed, and the future will not happen. Bill Gates’ vision is born of wishful thinking: it is a future in which thick client, software-stuffed boxes dominate enterprises and living rooms. Ridiculously, he’s touting a Home Server product. Presumably, corporate servers aren’t complex enough, so we really need to complicate our lives at home. Hopefully, the nanny will have a Masters degree in IT for when the server crashes.

    The future is on the internet. Already, Gartner predicts that by 2010, 30% of software will be offered as an online service. This means the PC will become thinner and thinner. Since storage on a central server will always be cheaper than local storage due to economies of scale, the idea of ‘downloading’ anything will become archaic. With ubiquitous wireless broadband, we will never need to store anything locally: all our software, movies, music et al will be on web servers available for streaming 24/7.

    The devices we use will dramatically fall in price, as they will have little more than web browsers installed. Imagine a $200 ‘laptop’ with which you can access your Netsuite financial software online, your Google Spreadsheets and Google Docs documents, plus all the movies and music you want at your favorite online provider, simply by downloading a 1kb playlist.

    There’s no room for Windows in this vision. No use or need for servers or server software. In the home, our living room screens will be connected directly to the internet, with no need for any proprietary set top boxes stuffed with Microsoft software. We will surf to movie sites, and watch movies in real time.When jogging, our portable devices will link to the web via WiFi, and stream music live, with no need to download.

    The network will be the computer. Scott McNealy, not Bill Gates, will be shown to be the real visionary.

  10. The biggest network which is the internet is made up from computers as well my friend El Hakeem but the point your making isn’t coinciding with your statement “There’s no room for Windows in this vision.”

    Come on, these computers we are talking about and platforms where people and users will be making all of this content to be shared and stored will all over on Windows OS’s. From your phone to the PC, TV, set-top box, and portables…they are influential and will be the most influential – so the question is does that define the them as the winner or are they really ruling it? Love to hear some of your views.

    Cy

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