• United States
IDG Enterprise Consulting Director

A look at DEMO 2004

Feb 20, 20043 mins
Data CenterMicrosoft

You say you want a revolution Well, you know We all want to change the world.

You say you want a revolution

Well, you know

We all want to change the world.

The Beatles, Revolution 1

Dear Vorticians,

Short and sweet this week, which is something you all richly deserve after the lengthy missives of recent months.

I’m heading back from a week of travel that included attendance at the DEMO conference, where Executive Producer Chris Shipley ushered the entrepreneurial class of 2004 into the big, wide world. DEMO is a delightful blend of excitement, nervousness and just plain enthusiasm. It recharges your batteries. (Speaking of which, there was a fascinating video about what happens when you squish your laptop/cell phone batteries or stick a nail through them. Advice: Don’t do it.)

As usual, there was a variety of interesting new companies and products, all of which you can learn more about by visiting and then clicking on the “Demonstrators” tab.

What really caught my attention at DEMO were the announcements of two software packages challenging Microsoft in its stronghold, the desktop. One, from a Chinese developer, is a rival to Office, the other is an alternative to Outlook. Can you imagine? The releases prompted a good deal of talk among attendees and the speakers I had the pleasure of joining on a panel about the needs of the enterprise. The debate is particularly relevant in light of our discussions in this newsletter about the future of the IT industry.

Most folks don’t seem to feel that Microsoft is at any significant risk on the traditional desktop platform – the Intel-based personal computer. But all bets are off when you consider that the very definition of personal computing is changing – something that was clearly in evidence at DEMO.

As the devices we use to access information and the Internet continue to morph, as open source expands its reach to the desktop and other areas of the enterprise, things begin to look quite different. These fundamental technology shifts are compounded by other issues, such as customer concern over security vulnerabilities, pricing and feature bloat, and the desire for alternatives to the giant from Redmond.

So my questions for you all this week is: Is the era of Microsoft’s dominance coming to an end? Beginning to come to an end? If so, how will it come to an end?

As always, reach me at Bye for now.