We all know that Google will stop sponsoring Mozilla in 2011. We also know that over 90% percent of Mozilla earnings come from this sponsorship. We also know that last year Google released its own web browser based on WebKit and will soon launch an operating system based on it.
The rise of HTML5 will change drastically the apps that we use. A lot of apps have moved already to the browser but the use of WebSockets, WebThreads, local storage for web apps will boost the migration. How does this relate to Google and Mozilla? Well they eat the pie of Microsoft. Personally I found myself using more and more GDocs than any desktop office application. Microsoft never embraced the web. No support of the open standards, no innovation, not any great web strategy, an ageing browser still being around and even the last IE cannot support any modern, fluffy web technology.
On the same time Firefox is getting more popular and the Mozilla foundation predicts its dominance by 2013. Microsoft is wasting a lot of money on IE and still cannot build a modern and usable browser. Google on the other hand is promoting hard the Chrome browser and the Chrome OS will make people realize that a browser is all they need.
We should not forget that the desktop becomes less important and the mobile web is omnipresent. The mobile arena is the sector where Microsoft cannot even compete anymore and the Windows Mobile seem more like a relic. WebKit is the default in the mobile world. Sometime back some people asked if Microsoft would opt to use WebKit as the rendering Engine of IE and Steve Ballmer has replied that they could take a look to it. eLater on he stated that they would just look at it for some inspiration. Microsoft could use WebKit since it uses the LGPL lisence. Apple does the same. But could Microsoft collaborate with Google and Apple. Never say never but it will be a cold day in hell if that happens. On the other hand Firefox is really popular but soon it will face fiscal problems. Could Microsoft back it?
If Firefox switches to Bing as the default search engine, a lot of web users would use Bing. Microsof could adopt Mozilla as the default browser but as this is almost unimaginable they could - at least - adopt the Gecko rendering engine and therefore save a lot of money and have a competent browser that people would like to use when using their in-browser apps.
Microsoft has changed the latest years. Some years back Steve Ballmer was stating that GPL is a "virus". Now they have an open source lab and a few years back they invited the Mozilla developers to fine tune Firefox and Thunderbird for the release of Vista. Some time ago a Mozilla developer warned users to switch away from Google to Bing as it has better privacy issues. As Google grows bigger more people will start loving hating and if Microsoft decides to change and it become more open it could stand as an alternative to the Google dominance. The first need they have to do it to ditch IE, hello Firefox!