Microsoft, Bandwidth and Grids

A number of friends and readers have pointed to Slashdot and the article by Mike on Why Microsoft Should Fear Bandwidth. Mike writes:

At present, we find ourselves in a situation unprecedented in all history the average person, in charge of a machine of such complexity that it can calculate anything he or she would want to know in mere seconds. This is almost an untenable situation; this average person often has no idea how to fix the computer when it breaks, and no idea even how to perform the most basic maintenance on it to prevent such breakage. Its also vulnerable to hackers, phishing schemes, and hosts of other plagues.

With caching, smart usage of bandwidth, latency reduction strategies, etc., most users would hardly notice the difference between an application being provided remotely over a high-bandwidth connection and being provided locally by a spyware- and virus-infested home PC with inadequate memory.

In a world of unlimited bandwidth and remote applications, the operating system doesnt matter, and theres no lock-in. In such a world, Microsoft loses its monopoly, and the consumer wins. This is why bandwidth should scare Microsoft more than any other foe out there right now for once bandwidth increases beyond a certain level, remote application provision is inevitable, and then Microsoft is on very shaky ground, indeed.

Mike has a follow-up post in which he adds:

Im not asserting that every client will be some dumb terminal straight out of 1973. We have far too much processing power and storage capability for that to make much sense. It makes sense to distribute it, though, and allow something more manageable for users and companies. Both glean benefits from a more-centralized, less complex approach.

The users can handle what they are good at keeping track of their data, storing files locally, deciding what software they want. And companies can handle what they are good at keeping their networks spam-free, virus-free, firewalled, backed up and provide secure, constantly-updated applications. Most users dont care all about security, or learning anything about it. This more-centralized system opens up a measure of control for corporations that I, and many other people, are not comfortable with, but it has many advantages, as John points out especially if it is marketed correctly.

John Zeratsky adds: “Distributed computing is already here. Most day-to-day tasks of average computer users are online. And it works.”

Interestingly, Slashdot has another pointer to an eWeek (speculative) article on Microsoft’s distributed computing efforts under the codename BigTop, “which is designed to allow developers to create a set of loosely coupled, distributed operating-systems components in a relatively rapid way.”

I have written extensively about the opportunity to reinvent computing in a world where communications exists. This is one revolution which will begin not in the developed markets but in the emerging markets. It will also integrate computing and communications. Our Emergic vision is about making it happen, and bringing in the next billion users to services built around a centralised “commPuting” platform.

Tomorrow’s World (Nov 2004)
CommPuting Grid (Nov 2004)
Massputers, Redux (Oct 2004)
The Network Computer (Oct 2004)
Reinventing Computing (Aug 2004)
The Next Billion (Sep 2003)
The Rs 5,000 PC Ecosystem (Jan 2003)

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.