Is Mesh enough to keep MS in the game for the long run? It certainly has the marks of Ray Ozzie and as many bloggers and commenters have stated, it looks like a Groove Web 2.0. Groove was the Ray Ozzie’s project before he moved over to Redmond. And before that he was Mr. Lotus Notes.
Groove is now an optional part fo MS Office, a far cry from the original intentions. And Groove had potential as a Lotus Notes 2nd generation. Why didn’t it succeed?
It was as if Ray Ozzie and his team stopped half-way then, it was trying to be open, but only so much. It aimed at replacing Lotus Notes, but it limited itself to the Windows world. It wanted to break into the small and mediumed business market, but failed to understand the investment decision processes of that market. It wanted to become viral, yet it wanted to charge 70 or was it 100$ per user and many potential customers could not run Groove, because you needed a really powerful PC. It wanted to empower the user to create and share spaces, yet introduced complex and infrastructure heavy top down certifications in order to please potential corporate IT departments. It wanted to become a haven for a developer community, but rarely listened to them. Made important changes without involving their best supporters.
Even then Ray Ozzie seemed a little out of touch, his old blog is testimony of that. He seemed no not understand what openness means and therefore open source. And it looks like he still doesn’t (and here) The paper is nicely written, uses words and definitions, which I like, but mmmhh. It’s the consequence, the solution which doesn’t fit. It tries to put a mesh on Microsoft’s existing world, rather then prepare for what is coming. It tries a unified top down approach, daddy Microsoft will take care.
At the moment the MS family try to adopt Yahoo. Struggles a bit in the embrace that one. MS is now having a big word with the foster parents, the Shareholder. Oh and later daddy will also talk to the rebel kids Mac and Linux and their cousin Google, don’t worry.
I am not worried, because that gigantic top down approach will not work. MS has increasingly had trouble with big projects. And MS has always been a little slow keeping up with the times and now they have Google and all the web players outrunning them. BTW Google despite it’s size has a track record of starting small, sometimes even innocent projects which then take off. Think of App Engine, let’s just get it out with Python, so what, developers trust Google to add other frameworks. And building trust, well let’s say it’s not really the strong point of Microsoft.
I wanted to write just a few words anded ended up with more. An even longer but interesting article can also be found on Bob Warfield’s SmoothSpan blog.