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End of an era in computing ?

When the founder of Microsoft retires this year, it will not only mark the close of a remarkable business career. It will signal the end of an era in computing.

“The next sea change is upon us.” Those words appeared in an extraordinary memorandum that Bill Gates sent to Microsoft’s top managers and engineers on October 30 2005.

Belying its bloodless title – “Internet Software Services” – the memo was intended to sound an alarm, to warn the company that a new revolution in computing was under way, and that it threatened to upend Microsoft’s traditional business.

What had always been the linchpin of Microsoft’s success – its control over the PC desktop – was fading in importance. Thanks to the proliferation of broadband connections in homes and offices, people no longer had to buy packaged software programs and install them on their computers. Instead, they could use their web browsers to tap into software supplied over the internet from central data-processing plants.

Read more A revolution is taking shape at ft.com

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