Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Emails from the Edge, the Clueless Version...

Yo Mo-
If you like, here's another hint for the clueless.

Want to see what is bedeviling the masters of move? Check out what Joe Wilcox says:
Microsoft's Dare Obasanjo raises concerns over Google Gear's synchronization capabilities. Microsoft should be very concerned that Google might do synch right.
Gears is Google's attempt to provide software developers a means of offering offline access to just about any online content. Synchronization is essential to the whole concept, where content would automatically synch in either direction.
Obasanjo blogged last night that something is missing.
"It seems that without providing data synchronization out of the box, Google Gears leaves the most difficult and cumbersome aspect of building a disconnected Web app up to application developers. This may be OK for Google developers using Google Gears since the average Google coder is a Ph.D but the platform isn't terribly useful to Web application developers who want to use it for anything besides a super-sized HTTP cookie."
Quite possibly, synchronization is the killer app that will determine whether desktop software maintains its relevance or the Web becomes the more popular platform.
Synchronization Hub
The natural place for synchronization services is part of the operating system. Apple and Microsoft moved in the right direction, but neither reached the destination.
Long ago, Apple made iSync part of Mac OS X and then failed to extend it—or .Mac synchronization—in any meaningful way. Apple had an early lead on Microsoft that wasn't exploited: Synchronization as part of the operating system. The Mac maker should have made iSync a more pervasive service leveraged by its iLife software and extended to third-party applications and hardware. Instead, iTunes is the synchronization hub for Apple software and services. The approach lets the company bring products like iPod and Apple TV to Windows but blocks a natural place to really extend and differentiate Mac OS X.
Microsoft has done no better—in fact, much worse. There was so much promise! During its 2003 developer conference, Microsoft promised synchronization as a core service of what was then called Windows Longhorn. Windows Vista does ship with feature Synch Center, but it's no unified, universal synchronization service. Windows Mobile devices need separate software to synch with Outlook, for example, and there is no real support for Web services.
Microsoft should worry lots more about universal synchronization than it does. Microsoft offers too many synchronization mechanisms that simply don't play well together, if at all. Take the so-called RSS platform introduced with Internet Explorer 7 and extended with Windows Vista. The service is its own silo, yet Microsoft promised tons of extensible functionality. But where is it and how does it work with other content?
Microsoft's MTP (Media Transport Protocol) has the makings of universal synchronization process, but where has it truly been extended? Windows Media Player? It's odd enough to synch photos, movies, music and contacts with iTunes.
Next to security, synchronization should be Microsoft's top development priority. The company that solves synch—and so far Apple is way out in front—will rightly connect together the Web, the desktop, the server, consumer and commercial generated content and data stores ranging from cell phones to the display on the refrigerator.
Risky Business
If Google gets synchronization right before Microsoft, it's game over. Google would be able to extend the relevancy of the Web platform back to the desktop on its terms; think invading army. If Microsoft gets synch right, it can drive desktop relevancy the other way, invading Google turf. Microsoft missed a huge opportunity by failing to deliver synchronization as a core Windows Vista service. Google could exploit this failure.
Google Gears is much greater problem for Microsoft than all the fuss bloggers and news organizations make about Google apps competition with Microsoft Office. Google may not have got synch right today, but there's always tomorrow. There are enough Web startups and established Web 2.0 players to make synchronization the possible killer application for the Internet. Everyone would want it.
The Web platform's promise is access to content anytime, anywhere and on anything—as long as the user has Internet access. Google Gears could bring some of that information offline, further extending the Web platform's promise. Universal synchronization would be game changing, however. Synchronization of content anytime, anywhere and on anything would be the paradigm shift for digital devices, desktop software and the Web.
Today's situation reminds of the PC 15 years ago, when competing formats and applications didn't work well together. Eventually, the market consolidated around products and file formats rather than universal synchronization mechanism allowing peaceful coexistence. Microsoft emerged major victor from the bloodbath.
Today's situation is like a good game of Risk, where rival camps gain territory. Microsoft obviously is one player, while Apple and Google are others. Apple is a player because the company got synchronization right with iTunes and iPod. I contend that synch is perhaps the major foundation for iPod's succees. Apple got this fundamental process right and then extended it to other content types and Web service. Synchronization likely will be an iPhone hallmark, given Apple's record with iPod and integration with AT&T services like voice mail.
Google has so much to lose and even more to gain, if it could extend universal synchronization from the Web to the desktop and to devices. Content synch also could include advertising.
To be clear, Microsoft takes synchronization seriously. The concept is built into products as disparate as Vista, Windows Live and Xbox. But missing is universal synchronization—usable by software and hardware developers—across all platforms. In Risk there is one winner. Microsoft, play smart or you could be the ga(m)e's biggest loser.
Thank you, dear Baby Joe for spitting up that clown pacifier.
As Apple proves out with iPod and iTunes, synchronization between systems in your own proprietary way is a killer. Microsoft touts such capability in their .Net frameworks via “interoperable” file standards, but only barely demonstrates such interoperational synchroned transactioning amongst their own applications. They also appear to try mightily to accomplish that with others but so far no dice.
We all should know by now the word “extend” is data industry code for an XML linkage from one thing to another.
Notice what Dare Obasanjo (way cool name, no?) says: “without providing data synchronization out of the box, Google Gears leaves the most difficult and cumbersome aspect of building a disconnected Web app up to application developers“
Oddly enough (not odd at all for us VCSY longs but for the software world at large this is way puzzling) this has been the track Microsoft has used with .Net ever since it was conceived. It has never provided agnostic binding to all platforms because it has no native ability to transact a deterministic interchange between varied data stores. THAT is the hard part in building web applications and linking proprietary operating systems and applications with disparate systems.
Techies know that and they will immediately recognize the problem if they are given a clear enough view. I think the view is becoming very clear these days.
If you peruse the XML Enabler Agent capabilities (the newbie will have to dig into Patent USPTO 7,076,521) you will find the collaboarative data collector is designed SPECIFICALLY to synch up proprietary data resources (from operating systems, applications and streams) with XML systems and to provide synchronization from XML systems back to proprietary data stores (in OTHER operating systems, applications and streams).
This is why the XML Enabler Agent concept is so at home in TPF (Transactional Process Facility) and any other area of data collaboration between different systems.
Now. Here's the BIG question. If Google can't do it, and Apple flubbed the dub, and here Microsoft says “Oh yeah that's a real problem over there at Google and the like.”... why hasn't Microsoft done it before? Why hasn't it been accomplished by ANY of them?
So, you see, the SiteFlash patent can't possibly be the only item under negotiation between Microsoft and VCSY. Why? Because you can't leverage the SiteFlash patent on agnostic platforms unless you first virtualize the collaborative capabilities between the various platforms with all other collaborative capabilities with all other platforms. Get it? Baby Joe got it. Of course, IBM doesn't seem to have any trouble with that. Neither does NOW Solutions, emPath.
Now, let's see how squirmy things get as Google, Apple, Microsoft and who knows who else wrestles to find a way to employ some sort of transactional synchronization facility between them and every one else. If they don't? They dry up and blow away from the web or find a proxy to do it for them.
Microsoft's deal with Linux appear to me to be a negotiating tactic (a very poor one but when that's all you got you throw out the lifeline with the kitchen sink attached) to say “oh we can use Linux to do the synching for us” given that capability will likely become open source one day. But “one day” isn't today as the emperors prepare to strut their stuff in the summer of virtualization without even a speedo to cover the chappies from wind and weather.
Fun stuff watching this play out. I wonder just how “smart” the MSFT lawyers are. LOL Not very from the looks of their “wait and waver” strategy.

Did somebody say VCSY was a “gamble”? HA I'll tell you what a “gamble” is. A gamble is when you fumble around trying to be graceful while somebody is climbing over your fat butt in the race to the finish line.
I wonder what Microsoft would pay for exclusivity? Would VCSY allow that? Or have they already made their commitments with others and Microsoft just thinks they're the dawdling first and only?

I would be willing to bet (since we're “gambling” here) Microsoft is like one of those girls who chase the rock stars thinking they're really the one and only. It is in Microsoft's nature to think that given their past activity and demonstrations. It could be Mister Niro and Mister Wade have let them simmer in their own delusions of lone superiority on the mountain top of gizmo... while others build out their frameworks for the final mutinous overthrow.

But, who am I to say? Just another blathering sherpa looking for something not yeti apparent.

No comments: