But don't think Microsoft. If there's been a constant presence in the background of my career in and around IT it's been Microsoft. The Microsoft who used to own the Desktop in every house and every company. The Microsoft who dominated the productivity - Office - software market. The Microsoft who could set pretty much whatever price they wanted for what they did because no-one else could credibly challenge it. Comfortable, turgid old Microsoft who were caught napping when Apple stole the music market. And then the tablet market that Microsoft had failed to get right. The Smartphone market that MS had a real headstart on... but fell asleep over at just the wrong moment. Microsoft who watched Google develop services in the cloud - GMail, Google Docs, Picasa, Search... and made miserable copycat attempts at the same, too little, too late. Microsoft who have been running to catch up with the whole cloud thing for the last 5 years, whilst Amazon, Dropbox, Box, Google leached our data into the sky and began to persuade the companies that we work for that the whole data - and services and infrastructure - in the sky thing might be a bit of a corporate imperative. Microsoft who looked on aghast as the world decided that the desktop computer wasn't the be-all and end-all of existence, the mobile device was the new Pope and blooming heck we have nothing to offer in that market unless we embark on a big and expensive catch-up exercise which everyone will sneer at because we are already history. Sad old Microsoft who cling onto their office apps, attempt to challenge the Unified Comms market (with increasing success, to be fair - Cisco and Avaya are running scared), fret about the absence of a social and collaborative offering in an 'I wish I had more friends' way and look less visionary than me, sitting in my kitchen, banging out musings on this crappy Dell laptop. Poor old Microsoft, led by their resident crazed loony. Microsoft, once kings of all they surveyed, now best recognised in the average household as the maker of a fine videogames console. They're dead in the water.
Except... I think they may not be. Because, the thing is... 99% of people who read this won't have a clue about what I'm talking about. The incremental leaps and occasional bound in the sectors that Gartner like to call The Nexus of Forces are of no interest to most people. They want computing in their houses that makes life easy. They want it on all the devices they carry about, want it secure and safe and backed up and functional. Above all, they don't want to have to think about it. They certainly don't need to follow the incremental developments in cloud storage and cloud applications and voice and video and blah blah blah. The minutiae of technology are for eggheads and gadget pervs. People like me. (Obviously, mostly the former).
So, what has Microsoft done? They've caught up with a very big chunk of all this, all at once. A tablet device that runs a desktop OS as well as a tablet OS (Jury out on that until the hardware is proven, but it's very appealing). A desktop OS that can do touch as well - and I like it enough to have installed it across my house, for no better reason than that it works a bit better than the last one as a desktop OS and seemed a natural thing to do if I wanted to really get to grips with what was coming next. But... critically... a new version of their Office suite that rethinks the offering completely. Everyone will know the old Office apps - because everyone uses them at work - that cost a fortune if you actually dared to consider having them at home, legally. No more.
You can go try out the new office for free, for a month. It's absolutely worth a look.