Microsft launches Equipt: "The Microsoft Equipt bundle -- formerly code-named "Albany" -- includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, plus OneCare and a handful of existing free Windows Live applications." [AP] Microsoft has already entered the SAAS market space with Hosted Office (for business). Now it enters the consumer market.
I wonder how much of this is a function of all the online apps (like Google Apps, ThinkFree, GE Whiteboard, etc.) coupled with a growing piracy problem. Let's face it, Gen Y doesn't like buying anything - music, movies, software. (They think it should all be free, unless of course, they wrote it - then that's a different story). There is a perception that shrink wrapped software sales are dying. Even Intuit has moved to an SAAS model (or Monthly Recurring Charge (MRC) model) with QuickBooks Online. Add in that there is a (very slow) migration to a smartphone (like the iPhone, Blackberry, and Nokia) replacing a laptop in certain situations. Online apps become more efficient, like Hosted Exchange service. It just makes more sense with a mobile, always-on business segment.
I have one more observation on Microsoft launching Equipt. Vista was not the typical success for Redmond. Petitions abound to keep XP around, because many don't want the pain of upgrading to another bloated and unstable Microsoft O/S. Vista's launch was a perfect time for folks to switch to Apple. If you had to learn a new O/S, it might as well be the cooler one. Now Redmond has to re-invent itself to keep the money machine going. Microsoft used to be able to squash or buy its competitors to maintain its monopoly hold, but those days are gone.
You look at all the markets that Microsoft is in: web O/S, mobile O/S, office apps, IPTV, IE, search, MSN, IM and desktop. It really only holds mindshare in the desktop and office apps space. Open source software like Apache, Simbian, Firefox, Thunderbird, Zimbra, OpenOffice, and others have taken a bite out of its dominance. IPTV and search just aren't working. The mobile O/S is behind Nokia, Apple and Blackberry worldwide.