posted on Mar, 17 2008 @ 08:11 AM
The US-Microsoft anti-trust case was motivated by actions taken by Microsoft when they realized the Web would make the operating system obsolete.
More and more services are being moved online, rather than being handled by a local software client (consider email). Microsoft saw this when they
designed their .NET architecture and made Internet Explorer the part of the operating system that you use to browse files on your computer.
Right now, the computer is like what the electric motor was a century ago. An electric "home motor" such as that sold by Sears was a fine,
precision-engineered, versatile household convenience. You could purchase various attachments that would allow you to use your motor as a
clothes-washing appliance or a fan for cooling and ventilation.
The idiom of practical computing right now is grounded in spatial metaphors, tied to a relatively large piece of physical equipment. Today we have a
computer where we keep our things: we store "files" in "folders" on our "desktop." Even as we become accustomed to "mobile" Internet
connectivity, we are still "scrolling" through web "pages" and looking in our "address book."
When the Internet first became popular, I remember how strange it was when people talked about having the Internet "on" their computers, as though
the Internet were a software application. The physical nature of today's computers reinforce the spatial metaphors that are so common in practical
Before long, however, cities will approach Internet connectivity like a municipal utility service. When all your files are stored "out there" where
you can get at and edit them with equal ease at home or on the road, and this ease is as much taken for granted as getting a glass of clean water in
an American city today, the spatial metaphors will lose their meaning... they will become like proper nouns, no longer descriptive... like "dialing"
a number on your cell phone, or getting up when you hear the phone "ring." The metaphor will be apt, but the mechanical description will be absent.
Computer power will be a resource, like water. Every device with a chip in it will work like SETI@Home. From a market perspective this may be
inevitable, as Moore's Law will hit a ceiling around 2050. Around 2050, the wires inside computer chips will become so small that the classical
physics governing their operation will break down, and quantum effects will take over. Can't have bits just popping into and out of existence, kinda
defeats the purpose of computing. So novel approaches to processor design will become important, as will novel approaches to computation as a
resource, if consumers continue to demand increased performance every few years.