Tim Bray's second, very short notice, prediction for 2008 is that Windows is going to "look bad". It's probably a good prediction – Vista simply didn't do enough to make Windows competitive for the next 3 years or so they'll take to get the next release out. Obviously Windows isn't going to disappear but there is already a strong trend towards alternate platforms, mostly OS X, which is very likely to increase over the next 12 months. Even my wife has become an Apple evangelist (more so than me) ever since she got my old powerbook to use in front of the couch. It seems the in-laws will be making the switch in the next year as well.
In the anti-trust trial, I seem to recall it being ruled that Apple and Linux were not viable competitors for Windows and thus Microsoft held a monopoly. I probably wouldn't go so far as to say that's no longer true, but it's certainly less clear cut.
As Tim says:
Microsoft’s continuing extraction of monopoly rents is dependent, near as I can tell, on just two things:
- MS Office staying good enough that people don’t mind paying the fearful Windows tax that goes with it. Except for, Office runs better on OS X than on Windows.
- The Exchange/Outlook lock-in. This seems the big one to me.
If Office 2008 (the OS X Office update to be released Jan 15) can read and write Microsoft's new force-you-to-upgrade document format natively1, I think point 1 will be well and truly taken care of – at least until Microsoft break the format again. The current Office for Mac is painful because it runs in Rosetta so it just isn't as snappy as it should be, particularly if you have a number of other apps using a lot of memory.
The second one is going to get very interesting. I don't rate Google any chance of knocking off Office – Google Docs and Spreadsheets is way too primitive and buggy – but their flagship AJAX app is GMail and it's really good. With IMAP support now available, all that's missing is a good syndication system for Google Calendar. There's a lot of work to be done, but if Google can bring it's calendar offering up to par with GMail, we should see it starting to gain significant traction by years end.
What I find interesting in this, is that there's little indication that AJAX is going to take over, it's the combination of AJAX, desktop applications and open protocols to access and synchronize data that makes it all work. In other words, if the major trends of 2007 all came together, you'd really have something.