Your computer's operating system — Linux, Mac OS, or even Windows — is a collection of services that programmers use to create applications. For example, in a word processing application, the application uses services to access the hard drive; other services update the screen. Browsers such as Firefox and Internet Explorer access the Internet through operating system services.
In this article, the authors update the long-standing discussion about how the Internet has become a giant operating system. While this has been true for a long time for other operating systems, the authors claim that now even Windows, under competitive pressure from the Internet, is rapidly relinquishing its monolithic control of your computer by disaggregating into individual services ("APIs"), ones that compete with services provided over the Internet.
The competition, "local" services vs. Internet services, is fierce. Google, for example, has become the de facto service that provides maps; eBay is trying hard to be the de facto commerce service; Paypal (purchased by eBay long ago) is the de facto method to transfer money. All of these companies avoid the enormous costs associated with writing an operating system, and they also have a constant stream of revenue as people use their services. Microsoft, on the other hand, only gets one bite: when you purchase your operating system. That's the reason behind their struggle to introduce "Microsoft Live," subscription anti-virus protection, and other products that even they barely understand: they want a constant revenue stream from each computer running Windows, and as yet they don't have one.
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