As Microsoft looks ahead, will Vista be the end of an era?

A UK Times article by Rhys Blakely talks about Vista which he suggests that "Microsoft executives admit will be the last of its kind, as their company finally gets to grips with the internet age."

I think there is more to this story than Mr. Blakely spoke about. I think the ability of any single company to coordinate something as complex as a modern operating system (whether it be Vista, MacOS-X, Linux or any other) has peaked, and the companies that will survive are those that better collaborate.

I really believe that the hardest transition for Microsoft will not relate to competition with their cash cows of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office, but the growing competition to the legacy royalty-based business models for infrastructure and productivity software. The growth of "open collaborative models for the production of public goods", "peer production", "peer distribution", and other social and economic language used to describe Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) will prove to be the most important advancement. Businesses need to learn how to fund and make money off of software from fixed costs, allowing the free market to bring the marginal costs to customers be equal to the marginal costs to producers of software -- which is zero.

There is clearly money to be made in software, and software clearly costs money. The transition is one away from marginal costs to fixed costs, a transition that is part and parcel of coming to grips with the so-called "Internet age".

Does Microsoft have a future? Time will tell, but I am sceptical that such a large company will be able to, or fully recognize the need to because of ideological blinders, steer away from the iceberg ahead of them.