Here's the situation. For years Microsoft played a fast follower role to innovative developers (a fast follower targets innovators and quickly matches their innovations). However, its success as a fast follower have all but killed funding for an independent developer community focused on innovative products for Windows. It now finds itself forced with the task of leading development for the next generation of desktop software — which is a task that Microsoft is particularly ill suited for. Note: this is almost the same situation we found ourselves in circa 1994.
It is pretty clear that the next generation of desktop software will remake the PC into a true “Internet Desktop” which includes three new technologies:
1) A desktop database (+ CMS ++ HTTP Server)
2) P2P connections (for IM, file transfer, Web service transport)
3) Connections to Web services
Blackcomb is expected to include these technologies, however, without an innovative independent developer community Microsoft is at a loss as to how to weave them together into compelling products. There are developers out there with a clue on how to do this, but given the history of competition with Microsoft there isn't much chance they will get the support they need to go forward. [John Robb's Radio Weblog]