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Section 1 / Page 22


Microsoft has been strategically manoeuvring themselves for years to become the biggest players in this new virtual market place. The introduction of Vista the Xbox 360 along with their Dot.Net and X-Box live systems is all part and parcel of their global ambitions. Eventually I think Microdollae and its partners would quite like to own it all or at least the bits that are the most profitable. They want their box in your living room - supplied by their network along with the content they either produce or profit from?

At a lower level, Microsoft’s strategy goes back to Larry Ellison chief C.E.O. of Oracle, who came up with the dream of the network box, a stand alone mass produced dumb terminal that could connect to the net. Therefore the user would not actually own software as such, but use software online. This means all the applications software (Office, Word processor etc), would all be stored online, then the user would just link to the applications through a network connection (thin client, now commonly referred to as software hosting). This means that users would not actually own software but rent software out and in real time, over a net connection. This never happened for two main reasons, firstly the hardware and bandwidth etc, at the time, was not up to the job and secondly,  Microsoft and Oracle fell out, Oracle then teamed up with Sun and decided to develop Java, but that's whole other story. But the big M obviously never forgot the concept, so now instead of the network box, they have the X-Box 360 etc, plus a few other devices in the pipeline.

Ubiquitous convergent technologies is what it's all about - in other words all your digital devices - phones / PDA's / your car / your home / your TV / security etc, will all be seamlessly linked via home based and online systems that will eventually in effect be invisible to the user. Eventually the PC as we know it today will sort of disappear into the walls of your home, leaving the user with just the interfaces to reach it, well until the thing crashes because Microsoft programmed it?

The future looks bright, as long as you can afford it?

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