Ozzie: Move over PC, web is the new king

Microsoft’s chief software architect has admitted that the PC’s reign at the centre of the digital home and office is over.

Ozzie: Move over PC, web is the new king

The PC at the centre has long been a Microsoft mantra, but in a memo sent to Microsoft employees, Ozzie admits that a fundamental shift has occured.

“Over the past 10 years, the PC era has given way to an era in which the web is at the center of our experiences – experiences delivered not just through the browser but also through many different devices including PCs, phones, media players, game consoles, set-top boxes and televisions, cars, and more,” he wrote.

Ozzie’s memo also tacitly concedes that Microsoft may once again have missed an opportunity with the internet. “More than two years ago when I wrote the memo entitled The Internet Services Disruption, much of the company was still focused on bringing our Office 2007 and Vista products to market,” Ozzie claims. “Aside from MSN, IE/IIS and our tools groups, it was truly ‘software’, not ‘services’, that was top of mind.”

“Since then, we’ve made tremendous progress in our expansion toward ‘software+services’ – from the long-term quests we’ve undertaken and customer scenarios we now envision, to the great services and service-enhanced software we’ve begun to bring to market, and the amazing projects at various stages within our development pipeline.”

Live Mesh

One such service is Live Mesh, which Microsoft has launched in a closed beta. Live Mesh aims to brings together a person’s pictures, documents and other data scattered across a growing number of machines with the goal of allowing people to access their information from anywhere and at any time.

It uses the internet as a data hub, synchronising files across computers, phones and other devices, so, for example, a digital picture frame at home could show a picture minutes after it was taken by a mobile phone.

Initially the program will be limited to 10,000 US Windows users, but Microsoft said it plans to extend Live Mesh over the next few months to mobile phones, Macs and other devices connected to the internet.

Industry analysts say the product may signal a watershed moment within Microsoft to embrace a technology that the company viewed as a threat in the past. “We may be seeing signs of a Microsoft that is newly focused,” says Jonathan Yarmis, a vice president and analyst at AMR Research. “This is exciting because it has as much to do with who is doing it as what Microsoft is doing.”

The software will also let friends and colleagues collaborate and share documents more easily. For example, if a shared document is changed on a work computer, those changes will be instantly updated and available on any device or computer that the user has registered with Live Mesh.

Microsoft plans to release Live Mesh in a wider public beta before the end of 2008.

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