2010-08-16

Oracle/Google lawsuit hinting at Microsoft opportunity?

Oracle's flatfooted approach to Java may present an opportunity for Microsoft.  Before Oracle rather clumsily decided to use their Sun acquisition to shake down Google (and god knows who else) for protection money, Android was the one thing that was poised to make Java the dominant technology for the mobile market.

There are a few things to note here:
  1. Sun never managed to capture the mobile market due to their inept J2ME platform which wasn't usable for anything and which never represented a single target with its gazillion divergent implementations.  J2ME did more harm than good.
  2. The mobile market is both bigger than the desktop market and it is still a long way from being anywhere near the saturation point.  The mobile device is believed to be the computing platform of choice for emerging markets, and the cost of devices is plummeting.  Thus, any argument that smart phones are "too expensive" is at best misguided.  These are not phones.  They are primarily mobile computers.
After running in with Sun and being hassled for money, Microsoft developed their .NET platform and the C# language to create their own ecosystem.  The problem was that Microsoft took a rather myopic view of this so they fell short of the Java promise of being everywhere

I've never really understood why Microsoft would hamper their efforts by limiting themselves to Windows.  Really, it never made sense to me.

Microsoft now have a unique opportunity to end the experiment that was .NET with severely limited portability and go after the same scope that Java has:  be everywhere.  They also have the opportunity to make some adjustments to the stewardship of .NET, to make it safe for others to build on.

If Microsoft were to remove any doubts around their .NET platform, aggressively push interoperability and openness, and work with the developer community on ever better terms than Sun did before Oracle bought them, Microsoft could end up making Java irrelevant.  Microsoft have thus far lost the battle for the operating system on mobile devices and I am not sure they will ever produce a decent OS for mobile devices.  But their development platforms could still play a role if Microsoft are smart enough to realize what it takes.

The actions of Oracle does not only affect Google.  It affects the entire Java community.  Oracle has, in one blow, devalued the entire Java platform by injecting a generous helping of FUD, and alienated everyone who could have helped Oracle go for a vastly bigger, ongoing payoff further down the line.

I can't believe I am saying this, but then again, I had no idea Oracle were going to go nuclear on themselves and effectively cast the entire future of Java into doubt.

6 comments:

  1. Just as "Filing patent suits was never in Sun's genetic code" being trustworthy has never been in Microsoft's genetic code.

    You have a nice theory but founders on the harsh facts of Microsoft's history and current management.

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  2. It is an opportunity nontheless, but I think you are absolutely right when you point out that it is one that Microsoft are not wired to make use of.

    Short-sighted, dumb greed will continue to dictate the order of the day.

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  3. I think Scott Guthrie is leading Microsoft out of the dark ages. Silverlight is cross platform remember. I think what you ask for is probably imminent and inevitable.

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  4. Latest incarnation of silverlight is far from cross-platform. It's mired with windows-specific COM integration

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  5. Yeah I heard about that. I think they wanted it for Office interop although I might be wrong. I can imagine the meetings where this was thrashed out and it ultimately coming down to a higher management decision. I have faith in the Gu though. I've met him and he's a nice fella :-)

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  6. Or perhaps it is just what users really asked for (COM/Office interop that is).

    There's has been a .NET microframework for years now that is largely platform agnostic. MS has been partway there for a while.

    http://www.microsoft.com/netmf/default.mspx

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