The above is a screen shot of the Download page for Microsofts one-up on Google Earth – call it Microsoft Universe. This software, which requires a huge machine and a great connection to the Internet produces from the wealth of Hubble and other astronomical images a brilliant adventure in Space. I have seen Hubble images before on NASAs website and these are their equal and are more plentiful and some would insist much more carefully integrated into the whole telescope viewing experience. So Microsoft WorldWide Telescope deserves the buzz that is getting.

Instructive on Directions

But this program is instructive on directions that Microsoft is taking in small and large ways. Small- most of the promotion for the website has been viral, much like Windows and Office used to do in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Small 2 – all of the promotion on the website uses Adobe Flash. Microsoft knows well in terms of runtime availability and speed of operation, their own SilverLight is still not a match for Flash. So use the oppositions software to get best possible exposure for their program. Again this is the old Microsoft (but SilverLight 2 which is due out shortly may change the speed equation).

Medium factor – the runtime requirements are huge and will easily eclipse many school and PC machines older than 1-2 years. This is a Vista promotion; but it also emphasizes the bloat factor associated with Vista. Medium factor 2 – MSWWTelescope also eats bandwidth – if it becomes popular, Sprint/Nextel/Clearwire and the other broadband providers will love it. Medium 2 – Science, astronomy, math, physics and computing in schools gets a boost because of the ability to create shows from WWTelescope. But hiring, training and mentoring domestically would do as much if not more. Microsofts heavy use of and lobbying for HP1B Visas is counter to Bills message that domestic computer schooling needs help. If Microsoft would foster home talent, the incentives would be there. But computer development and support recently has had plateau wages yet high stress from forever workloads and poorly managed change – no wonder students are gravitating elsewhere..

Large – IBM, the new HP behemoth, Apple starting to nibble more ferociously at Windows market share, Oracle reinvigorated – none of these are the targets of WWtelescope. This is mano a mano with Google. The Yahoo play, Re-emphasis on Windows Mobile and WWtelescope is Steve Ballmer endeavoring to make good on his Khruschevian promise to “bury Google” – exposed when a certain talent was hired away by Google(shades of the manpower pirating that Microsoft used to regularly do to Borland, Digital, IBM, Lotus and countless others).

I do commend WWTelescope but not the broader effort to humble Google. Between the two – Google has done much to establish the World Wide Web on a largely software and hardware neutral basis. In contrast, Microsoft has been and continues working with Machiavellian guile to systematically control and setup its monopoly mechanisms to work on the Web. Silverlight, LiveMesh, WWTelescope and much of Redmond Web work are all technically commendable to varying degrees while at the same time carry the abominable seeds of monopolistic intentions.