Paul Graham is an excellent but eternally controversial author. I read his book Hackers and Painters when on holiday in Spain some years back and my poor wife got repeated fragments of arguements against what he had written throughout the holiday. It's not that i don't agree with everything he says - and i don't - but it's that he is so purposeful in his writing that is causes a reaction in me. Which is cool as I love arguing about this stuff (with a wife and two kids it's the only kindof arguments i have a hope of winning!).
So he wrote an article entitled "Microsoft is dead". I tried to comment and reply using both IE and FireFox (I only changed through my own suspicions...), but the software just falls over when i try to post. Luckily i kept a copy of the data locally in notepad and so it didn't get lost when i posted (erm, is that already an advantage of desktop versus browser based software??). So here it is below - i will try and repost at some point.
They're are easy target and i had this discussion over drinks with some friend last night. I actually think their software in the last few years and what is coming through is getting great respect from hackers.
Also, a few things to remember.
1. Search in only 10% done.
2. Pervasive devices are taking over as the key interface to systems.
3. Collaboration is the big wave on the web.
4. Privacy/Trust - things like google apps work for some data (and are a great addition) but add in trust and privacy in business and they're screwed. Open ID is thinking about identity, but there's a long way to go.
For these reasons there is a long way to go before anyone can be considered alive or dead. I for one think Google will be overtaken by someone in the not too distant future as well. It may be a resurgent Microsoft - remember Netscape.
Oh, the have an ace in their cards. Ray Ozzie is Chief Software Architect (a position Gates himself used to hold) and created probably the more powerful collaboration software in its time at Groove. He's been very quiet recently and his emergence may be their resurgence.
Not everyone is going to want to create 5 minute web 2.0 software to get bought by Google - a big change will emerge as happened with Netscape and AltaVista. Stay tuned.