Google’s chances also depend on the PC losing its primacy. Oracle’s Larry Ellison argued as much when he was out pushing his idea of a network computer. So did Sun Microsystems’ Scott McNealy with his mantra that “the network is the computer.”
Ellison and McNealy made little headway. But they were just too early. The Internet has scrambled old assumptions by becoming the new platform. How long before everything resides in the “Internet cloud” rather than terrestrial PCs and servers? Maybe not this year or next–but five years hence isn’t a stretch.
At the same time, there are now lots of alternative ways to access the Web besides a Windows-based PC. That spells trouble for Microsoft’s monopoly franchise, which depends on maintaining the status quo.
Try imagining a future where developers will write to Web platforms without thinking about an individual computer or operating system. That once was Netscape’s dream. If this does come to pass, Google could build an ecosystem around itself in much the same way Microsoft did with Windows. If Microsoft’s latest moves can’t clear out its corporate arteries, the future could be all Google, all the time.