Last week, my access to Google went away. Must've been some local cluster outage, but in Canberra, I couldn't get to any Google sites. That was weird, because I couldn't check my mail. Couldn't get my document from my Gmail inbox to work on. Couldn't complain to the world about it because I couldn't get to Blogger. And so I sat around and twiddled my thumbs and waited. And it dawned on me how reliant I am on this company for access to my own information.
I'm not usually in the habit of defending Microsoft - but David Kirkpatrick's article Microsoft Plays Catch Up seems to me to be a little unfair. Sure, Microsoft are really behind. They don't have a strategy for the new web, just like they didn't have a strategy for the old one.
But the first time I ever heard the phrase ' Software as a Service', it was from a Microsoft Employee.
Remember Hailstorm? (My Services) Microsoft were totally ready to pounce on this stuff, about four years ago.
And then there was this unanimous public uproar about 'I don't want Microsoft looking after my data' and somebody in Redmond got spooked, and pulled the whole thing days before it launched. I'm not sure if they were planning to give it away for free, but it certainly wasn't 'baby steps'. There would certainly have been MS built web clients to access them. For a while these services were billed as an integral part of Windows XP (which may have been why they were pulled - maybe more legal reasons than otherwise)
So here we are, 4 years after Hailstorm died, and things are different. Now, it seems we're all happy to have a single company store all our information somewhere else, no complaints.
I don't think that it's quite right to blame Microsoft for lack of innovation around software services- truth be told, they drove a lot of it. They just weren't in a position to gain everyone's trust, which it turns out is what you need for all this stuff to work.