Just as the government is recommending splitting Microsoft into two companies, the software maker is set to unveil its new strategy for Web-based services, which may tie the company's applications and operating systems businesses closer than ever before.
On June 1, at the Forum 2000 event at its Redmond, Wash. headquarters, Microsoft president Steve Ballmer will unveil the Next Generation of Windows Services (NGWS). The presumed companywide initiative is seen as Microsoft's defense against a series of attacks from Web-based rivals, applications, and upcoming operating systems like Linux and the Palm operating systems.
In addition to Ballmer, vice presidents Rick Belluzzo, who heads up MSN; Bub Muglia, head of the business productivity group; and Paul Maritz, head of the platform strategy and development group, will also participate in the day-long event.
NGWS will attempt to address the preponderance of new devices capable of accessing the Internet, wireless appliances, and new Web-based Internet services, analysts say, while at the same time preserving Microsoft's Windows market share.
Other companies, including America Online, Sun Microsystems and Oracle, plan to provide competing Web-based services for these new devices and computers.
Microsoft has been tight-lipped about the details of the plan, describing it only as a "new Internet user experience for developers, consumers and businesses." The plan has been in the works since Ballmer took over from founder Bill Gates earlier this year.
The new initiative is likely to be framed as a suite of Internet services and applications designed to both replace and work with Windows 2000, said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Gartner Group.
"The era of monolithic operating systems and applications is over," said Gartenberg, adding that Microsoft recognizes the market for its software is changing, and "This is a huge transition for them."
One potential kink in Microsoft's grand plan: the U.S. government's proposal to break up the company. If Microsoft is split into an operating system provider and applications company, Next Generation of Windows Services may never get off the ground, Gartenberg said.
"They will have a much harder time making this vision a reality," he said. "It's the single biggest impediment to bringing it to fruition."