Bill Gates says Microsoft will move away from prepackaged software and into web-based applications:
"We must act quickly and decisively," Gates wrote in an Oct. 30 memo to Microsoft executives. "The next sea change is upon us."
In the four months since Gates put his company on notice, the maker of the Windows operating system and Office productivity suite has embarked on a restructuring no less significant than its adoption of the graphical, mouse-based user interface 20 years ago or its embrace of the Internet a decade later.
This time, Microsoft wants to diversify away from pre-packaged software and toward Web-based services that provide steadier, faster-growing income streams. In this vision, users would lease access to online software or use services in exchange for putting up with on-screen ads.