Plan A for Microsoft

Is Microsoft’s new version of Windows, code-named Longhorn, a radical innovation or a return to the company’s winner-take-all software strategy from a decade ago?

Longhorn, which had its official coming-out party last week, marks Microsoft’s return to “fat client” application development–software that resides largely on desktop or portable PCs rather than on a shared server or network. The company is even considering phasing out the development of a stand-alone browser, instead building Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and Web-based applications that would run directly in Longhorn as “native” Windows code.

The result would be “increased lock-in to Windows,” said Michael Silver, an analyst at market research firm Gartner. “Microsoft wants enterprises to write browser applications that take advantage of Longhorn application programming interfaces (APIs), which means that they won’t work on non-Longhorn browsers,” Silver wrote in a research report last week.

With Longhorn, some industry veterans believe, Microsoft is attempting to steer software development back toward the Windows desktop and away from software such as browser applications that can run on other companies’ OSes. Longhorn reinforces Microsoft’s commitment to the notion of powerful desktop machines that have large hard drives. [CNET]

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