Microsoft plans to offer more services that let you manage and store data online. While most of them are still in early stages or they've been released without too much success, Microsoft promises to open them to developers and to create APIs that can be accessed from any device.
Brian Hall, general manager of Windows Live, made an interesting comparison between the early days of Windows and this new online "operating system". "A lot of what Windows was doing early on was memory management, storage, all of the things today we take for granted. The vast majority of developers (today), they are not thinking, 'how am I going to store this particular piece of data in memory?' It just happens. The same thing is going to happen in the mesh model."
While developers can contribute to the success of a service (like in the case of Google Maps), it's hard to believe that companies will create truly open apps. A service that stores your data online could let you edit a document using Zoho or upload a video to YouTube, the same you can add actions to a context menu in Windows. Your Gmail contacts could be available when you want to share a Flickr photo and Gmail could integrate with Meebo to be able to chat with people that use other IM networks. But companies want to drive traffic to their own products or to their partners.
In a Wired interview, Eric Schmidt (Google's CEO) said this new "operating system" has the advantage of being based on open protocols. "People call this an Internet operating system. And by this I don't mean Google, I mean the sum of this vision. And if you think about it as an Internet operating system, the Internet operating system will have to have all of the normal features of the older versions of operating systems. It will have to have security, it will have to have caching, it will have to have replication, and it will have to have performance." But how about working with other "operating systems"?
Windows Live's tagline is "your online world gets better when everything works simply and effortlessly together". But that "everything" is still limited to the services created by Microsoft.