A Microsoft Renaissance

Slalom Consultant Greg Martin

Greg Martin is a member of the Slalom National Mobility team which incubates emerging technology solutions in areas such as mobility, user experience and alternative application hosting.

It seems to me that Microsoft is going through a bit of a renaissance as of late.  Microsoft is a company that I feel no matter where your technology preferences lie, you’ve got to give them their due respect for, frankly, creating the industry we work in everyday.  Over the last 10 years or so it has seemed to me that Microsoft hasn’t been able to catch a break in a world of Googles and iPhones, but here we are in 2010, and to me, it looks like they are turning it around.

Search

Google hasn’t had much of a competitor in the search space for a while, and I’ll admit, when I first heard Microsoft’s latest effort was going to be called “Bing” I assumed it was yet another re-branding effort that wouldn’t amount to much.  Well I was wrong about that, at least if you look at their market share numbers which have been increasing steadily since launch.  I use Bing Travel all the time, I had been a fan of the technology since it launched originally as Seattle based startup Farecast, and their iPhone app is really quite good.

Windows

Windows Vista received a lot of criticism when it launched.  Many IT departments simply refused to adopt it, sticking with their tried & true Windows XP.  Windows 7 appears to have alleviated many of the issues that came a long with Vista and is getting far more praise and recently passed the 10% market share mark.

Cloud Computing

Microsoft’s cloud computing solution, Azure, is fairly young when compared the more well known Amazon Web Services, but that’s not to say they aren’t a competitor.  You can find many posts on this blog focused on how to leverage the Azure platform.  Microsoft’s model is decidedly different than Amazon’s.  They are following a Platform as a Service model by exposing their existing .Net and SQL technologies to developers in the cloud.  Amazon provides more of an Infrastructure as a Service model, exposing raw computing power in EC2.  Both approaches have merit, and can even work together, it is not unheard of for an enterprise to utilize both services.  Microsoft is making a big investment in the cloud and if Azure is any indication, they are definitely going to be a leader in the space.

Rich Internet Applications

Silverlight has made it to version 4.0 in a few short years.  In that time it has become a viable Flash alternative and adoption has been strong.  Microsoft is clearly standing behind the technology with even deeper integration into other Microsoft technologies, such as SharePoint, and the recent announcement that Silverlight will be the core technology for the upcoming Windows Phone 7 release.

Mobility

And last, but certainly not least, mobility.  Almost moments after the iPhone’s initial launch Windows Mobile’s market share began to drop.  In a world of high powered devices and platforms with mobile browsers capable of rendering nearly any website, the antiquated platform looked like it was on its way out, and in a way that is true.  Microsoft’s recent announcement of Windows Phone 7 is not just an upgrade of the old, but a complete re-imagining and re-design of how mobile devices based on Microsoft’s technologies will work.  They are taking a page out of Apple’s book by controlling the user experience  heavily and based on what has been shown so far, Microsoft is putting themselves back in the mix as a real competitor in the mobile space.  I’m excited to see how the platform stands up when it is launched in the fall.

– Greg

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