Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A day late & A dollar short: Microsoft In a Web based world

So the proverbial Cat is out of proverbial Bag, sometime back Bill Gate sent a memo to his staff, (Direct Reports, Distinguished Engg and Executive team). In this memo Mr. Gates acknowledged the threat of Web based application and alerted them about the upcoming seismic shift in the software industry. He also assured them that they have anticipated it (.net & Windows Live) and they are still in the leading position in the market.

Are they? Well on the face of it both of the claims are true. Microsoft had anticipated the trend but miscalculated the magnitude and velocity of change. One company, which was mentioned prominently and explicitly in the memo, was Their CEO Mark Benioff sent a memo to his staff telling them that there time to take over the world has come. Its there hour of glory and now Microsoft doesn’t have a chance to stand anywhere in this Web service Eco system (Benioff called it Business Web) finally he shouted “Aloha” and concluded the memo.

All very (Yawn.) interesting.

As a web service enthusiast I admit Microsoft’s stance is good news for me. They have finally validated it as a feasible and sustainable way of doing business. With all its financial muscle and development bandwidth why is Redmond giant so afraid?

I think they are in real panic to make up for the lost time. They have realized that they were a bit late to respond to change and there delay can cost them dear. They are in habit of imposing their standards on developer community but web services are evolving on their own course. Microsoft doesn’t have the clout to mould it in their favor. With Longhorn in pipeline and Linux of its head I think Microsoft is having a little bandwidth available to actively monitor this arena. This alone explains the phenomenal rise of Ray Ozzie in Microsoft. They neither have time nor bandwidth to handle this they are basically “ A day Late & A Dollar Short “ in this situation.

On the second thought this situation is not new for them either. They were late in browser war and nearly gate crashed the party and killed the opponent (Read Netscape). But things are a little different now. In the past all the brilliant move of Microsoft were based on the strategy of “Operating System Integration” now as I mentioned in an earlier posting that OS Monopoly is not an (sustainable) advantage anymore.

Web service is alive: :Is Windows Dead??

It is commonly believed that any company which leads in one wave of computing is rarely a leader in subsequent wave. It’s hard to be on cutting edge of innovation if you have a big turf to protect. When a firm adopts “Process” mindset, innovation is usually it’s first casualty. So it’s easy to conclude that Microsoft can’t innovate and its end is near. True but not very true.

Bill Gates in his book “The Road Ahead” said, “We often overestimate what will happen in next two year and underestimate what will happen in next ten years. Market are by definition very optimistic on a short term basis”.

I agree, market work on a quarter –to – quarter basis and there memory is also limited up to previous quarter. I hear everywhere that company like & will be the replacing Ms-Office but when people shout that this is a new idea I can only scoff in pain. Idea of having web based office productivity software is perhaps as old as Internet itself. Nothing new here, Borland tried it in past and failed, Google said to be doing it and so does many other companies. These companies might have the technology to pull this stunt but nobody ever come up with the good enough explanation/strategy to offset the “My Data-on –your Server “ fear of enterprise customer.

If you look it more closely the very idea of Web service is not totally new. It’s just a next step in Mainframe-To-Fat Client-To-Thin client –To –Internet, series of evolution. . They are as some skeptic call them “Glorified Web Based Light weight vendor neutral API”.

Well the difference is that the buzz has caught a Grass Root fanfare. This time it is not confined in the realm of Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) only. As this is the “Hot “ Technology every smart developer wants to work on it and Microsoft has very little to offer him. Though they have .net but there standards are still an “Also Run” along with BEA, Sun One, WSDL, SOA and other dozen such standards.

Surprisingly all these consortiums are cooperating with each other up to now but I doubt it will be the same when there will be a mass adaptation of this techniques. Standards are still in flux and nobody know who will be the winner .I can bet that sooner or later companies will have proprietary implementation of some service specification and that will contaminate the open source culture of web service. The low level service may remain “open Source” but higher level, business critical service will be proprietary and so interoperability will be an issue. No matter what we love to believe we should remember that Software firms love to lock the customer. For them marketing is just the art of making better mousetraps.

Coming back to the question of Windows. I think the web service is a good, much needed but still and evolving technology and this hype will do much harm then good to it is still very far from becoming a viable way of business so any talk of being a windows killer is just crap. Windows is very much alive and if at all it will die its own death under the weight of Longhorn. We don’t need Linux or to do it.

The only beneficiary of this saga is and Mr.Benioff. He has cashed this opportunity to secured some good lead and must have made a good PR and promotion stuff out of the memo I salute him for his business sense. The guy really knows how to make most out of the given opportunity.

Post Script: on last update Microsoft is pulling its act together they are sniffing the market for some desktop based feed reader, which they might provide free with Vista (Like IE). Still stuck to the old method of “Operating System Integration” old habits goes hard. If they can’t take desktop to web they will bring web to desktop. Its so typical Microsoft act. J

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Hello Delhi !! I am Back

So After Two days of Rock Climbing In Shimla & Himachal , i am back in Delhi . Trip was Damn good . for someone who is living in Gurgaon for past 3 years it was much needed to see nature at its best . high mountains ,greenery and you know view was breathtaking .

do you know how it feels to drive sumo at 4:30 in morning on a Fog clad mountain and see sun rising gradually through valley . I tell you it feels great . it was worth the trouble of waking up and taking a bath 4'o' clock in Morning . i feel a little bit more energised now to go through the clockwork of Delhi life for some time .

I think once in a while we should escape from this hustle bustle and be one with the nature . i wanted to share the photograph but right now . but forget to bring my Camera with me . you will have to wait for that . maybe in next posting tomorrow .

after this much needed break i can say "Hello ! Delhi I am back " . I will tell you details of trip soon . need to go back to work



Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Going To shimla

There was a lot of action @ workplace. So much so that my last posting  looks like to be irrelevant . but thank god its Friday tomorrow i am planning to go to shimla . a lot has happened and a lot of thoughts are cooking, fermenting inside my head  i will spit them out sometime later in the day today


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Groundhog Day @ Work

Today I wake up to a dull morning. I wake up at 7:30 in but stayed in bed till 8:30. When maid arrived I have to drag myself out of bed. Sipped a cup of hot tea .I went through the drill of daily routine and rushed my way to work. I was not looking forward to going to office I kind of pushed myself toward it cause I didn't wanted to stay home either.

Today was not different from any other day in past few months. Life has reduced to this daily grind of home -office-client-home. I am working on a project, which is all ready behind schedule, but nobody cares as we have raced the money. Yesterday I meet a guy with whom I was planning an implementation rollout since past few months and he informed me that he would be leaving the company soon. He asked me to do a document for the purpose of "Knowledge Transfer" to new guy who will be replacing him next week.  I came to know he had resigned around the same time since we started this whole exercise of chalking out the rollout plan, defining the milestones & all that crap. Now I am supposed to do the fucking "Knowledge Transfer" to a guy I hardly know. But guess what?  I am neither sad nor angry. I have kind of accepted it as a sort of fate in modern day work order.

Sometime I feel life has reduced to this clockwork. I am only 27 if I assume avgas age of 60 I still have 33 long years of this drill. Ever heard of a movie called "Ground Hog Day " where Tom Hanks goes through the same day of his life again & again. Well I think I am also having a Ground hog day but I am not Tom Hanks neither I have Andy Mc Dowel around me.

Some time in reflective mood I wonder if that was the reason for which we are put on earth. I don't fancy my self as super hero or some thing who is there to save or change the world. I don't compete with the Gandhi, Hitler or Laden of world. But still I believe that I am here to make a small dent in world. But only dent I seems to be able to make is in my chin, when I smile  & I don't smile much unless I guzzle a beer can.

There has been a lot of noise lately in newspapers about the high attrition rate in Indian IT firms. People change their jobs more frequently and nobody knows why. Than they blame it on money. I don't think that explain it pal change jobs because change is the only kick they have in there life. Hard core process driven mindset has sucked joy out of IT firm.

Ever poured beer in glass? Well when you do that for initial 2-3 minutes it full of bubbles, it over flows than it settles down. Work is also like that only initial few months are full of excitement after that its like drink a warm beer with out bubble without fun. No body likes to drink a warm beer and eventually every beer became warm so the idea is to pour more often. Well isn't that make sense

So I concluded  that this is the time this beer has became warm. I should log on to and see the new beer in stores. But guess what they have blocked this site in our network and I am too lays to go to cyber cafĂ© after work.


Tell me what to do? Wait for this beer to boil.

Live through the groundhog day and wait for my Andy McDowell


Prashant Singh

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Google Video

got an email from Google informing that they have launched Video search .  i jumped to check it out .  it was great until i clicked on a link  .it showed google video is not supported in your country
i tell you it sucks !! we are not geographically neutral yet in cyberspace

Can anybody explain why India is not allowing this search . problem is with Technology or Law . any way i will soon  find out a way to by pass this . will definitely inform you about that
till than
check it at


Sunday, November 06, 2005

Google Napster & Law : Is there a thread ?

 All of us love patterns. Pattern, routine, framework, predictability  .It give us a set path to live our life. Human race is by nature programmed to be conformist.  Most of the time we want our future to be a continuation of past only. Not only continuation but also past perfect continuation. J

I admit I like pattern too. In my personal life, my room, traffic on my way to work. I want a total pattern & predictability there. But I don't expect a pattern in few things like my girlfriends & Internet market place. In this respect past few months have been very amusing and puzzling for me. First I had no girlfriend for a month now and secondly the funny things happening around Google Print.

After recovering from a 4 yearlong slowdown in economy. Market is on high again. Veterans say that it's almost like mid 90's when entrepreneurs were hero and big ideas were everywhere. History seems to be repeating it self. Market has come a full circle. Yesterday Napster and Netscape was torchbearer of this spirit. Today it's Google. I agree. But some folks go a step further in their quest to find the pattern.

Recently Google Announced and rolled back its plans for Google Print. The grand vision of putting all the books in world for search was a dream comes true. If anybody can do it was Google for sure.
But after facing a huge protest form publishers and Authors Google decided to limit its plans to those books, which are already in public domain. A great idea killed in infancy.

Google enthusiasts, copyright lawyers and blogger have a field's day chronicling this saga, and as we are living in 90's like era again. It was not surprising that people compared Google Print to Napster. Victim of copyright law. Martyr in the quest of democratization of web, people give fancy titles to both companies. And a pattern is born. There is a similarity in both stories     a common thread. Is it? Is there a common thread here?
If yes than what is it? Lets see.

Honestly I have never used Napster myself. I only read about it. It was a P2P site for file swapping and people used to use it for exchanging mp3 files. It was a gross transgression of copyright law. Music companies sued Napster and it was forced to shut down and now it's working in pay per download way. Napster is dead but P2P file swapping is not. We have lime wire, kazza, and other file swapping sites on net. Nobody seems to bother about them.

Now it looks right to close down Napster as it was causing copyright infringement. But if you look at it more deeply you will find that closing down the Napster has nothing to do with copyright. Napster was a file swapping network nothing else. If I fancy myself as an Elvis Presley in waiting, I can record a song in my voice, upload it on the site and if anybody wants they can listen to it. Where is the issue?

Million-dollar Question is can an application service provider be held liable for misuse of his application?

 I don't think so. If that is true than we should close down AK47 factories in Russia as terrorist world over are using it. We should close down Gmail as any terrorist might use it for exchanging information. We should close down all tea stall and bars in downtown Bombay as most of the drug deals are scripted there. But we don't do that we only choose to shut down Napster. Why?

Now what about Google Print?  We all are going to library since childhood. "Soochna Kendra " in my neighborhood was my fav. Hangout in my teen. Do you think library as a copyright infringement?   I don't think so.

Now if your neighborhood library decides to make a little money by putting small advertisements on the walls of lobby. Will you cry foul? I don't think so. Google Print seems to be doing the same thing.

There is surely a pattern here. But I think most folks diagnosed it wrong. Pattern is not copyright, pattern is Money and power moneybags have to mould the law for their own good.

Problem with our law is that they are mostly based on interpretations. Courts in this case have supported the moneybag's version of law. Big business group in publishing, media and entertainment are afraid of the massive reach of Internet. A neighborhood library can help only neighborhood kids it can't serve whole world. But Google Print can.

 Publisher or record labels both are middlemen so they will be worse hit if singer /author find a platform to directly reach to Listeners / Readers. Both Napster and Google were morphing in to such platform. For any emerging hot technology like Google or Napster. this type of resistance in expected . so why did Google survived and Napster busted ? because Google is a listed company and have pile of cash to fight back . Its again the money factor .

Amusing observation is the timing of launch Google Print . it s very near to the announcement of goggle's  quarterly result . and you will be happy to learn that all this buzz , noise and cacophony over Google Print  has caused a 7 fold rise in goggle's stock . If it was a calculated move then  I  salute the marketing folks at Google. 

Moral of story :

Follow the buzz and you will find the honey &
all things boils down to money .


Prashant Singh
Ladies & Gentelman ! Take My Advice
PullDown Your Pants & Slide on ICE