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Sometimes you're the Louisville Slugger
Sometimes you're the ball
~Mark Knopfler, The Bug

Technology moves so quickly it's a bit like the weather in New England. If you don't like it, wait five minutes. To prove this, not long after I published my post last week, Microsoft Misses the Boat in Albany, in which incidentally I asserted that Microsoft completely failed to grasp the idea of web-based computing, it announced the Mesh Platform, which if I understand it correctly, shows that Microsoft in fact, does get the web (at least, in its own way). And yes, the Microsoft engineers did read that 2005 Ray Ozzie memo I alluded to.

The Mesh Platform, which is explained nicely in this Beta News article, Microsoft Mesh Platform aims to Become the Universal Window to the Web, is a series of tools that in its final manifestation should give users access to information wherever they are, regardless of device. It’s ambitious and it is forward-thinking, but it is also something that Transmedia Glide Digital offers today. The difference, however, between a small company like Transmedia solving the riddle of seamless, device-neutral computing, and a company with the reach of Microsoft is enormous. If Microsoft can pull this off, and that remains to be seen, it will achieve a major transformation, something I will admit, I suggested it was incapable of doing in my Albany post.

Just to show that I’m not wrong all the time, in my post last Friday, Offline Access is a Must for Online Office Suites, I stated that the ability to use applications offline, then sync automatically when there is an internet connection is a core piece of functionality for online productivity software, and this notion is at the center of this initiative by Microsoft. Ray Ozzie is a brilliant guy by all accounts and he clearly has been paying attention to what’s going on in the marketplace around him. His job is to pull a company firmly entrenched on the desktop into the online world, and the Mesh Platform offers the way there.

Microsoft has never been known for innovation in a true sense. What it has always been good at, in my view, is surveying the landscape and building on existing ideas. Windows wasn’t original, but it won the market share. Excel? Word? There were WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3, long before they came along, but Microsoft has owned the Office Suite market since the 1990s. So perhaps Microsoft is a little slow afoot. Maybe it’s not creative, but if a company the size of Microsoft turns its eyes to the web and puts its best foot forward, it has a chance to transform mainstream computing (again). So I’ll admit I was wrong in that Albany post, and tip my cap to Ray Ozzie. By jove, I think he gets it.

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