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Can Microsoft Tame Lion's Biggest Threat?

Windows 8 may not be enough. Tablets have quickly changed the rules of computing for Microsoft.

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History will cite mighty rivals who tried to slay the Microsoft Windows PC dragon--but the tablet will stand out. Microsoft must announce its earnings later today, in the same week that Apple announced record breaking revenue fueled by an iPad 2 sales "frenzy"--and its Lion OS X 10.7, which brings a tablet-like experience to more computer users.

For many of us, tablets have rewritten our expectations of computing. Personally, it took me just one weekend with an iPad 2 to decide that it was the best web content-consumption device that I have owned. A slick tablet is enough to make your Windows 7 machine look archaic in certain ways. Even Lenovo has jumped into the tablet space. As's Paul McDougall notes, swipe has topped click.

As McDougall says, "consumers and workers who still require a desktop PC now want machines that look and feel like their smartphones and tablets. Microsoft and Apple both know this."

But Microsoft's answer to Lion, Windows 8, won't arrive until late 2011 or maybe 2012. Imagine what Apple can do with the iPad by then.

A Wall Street Journal article Wednesday by Walt Mossberg, reviewing Lion, bore this headline: "Apple's Lion Brings PCs Into Tablet Era."

That's certainly enough to make Steve Ballmer spit out his morning cereal and see red.

Between tablets rewriting the hardware rules, Google rewriting the software rules, and cloud computing reshaping how enterprises attack the biggest computing problems, it's hard to remember a time when Microsoft had such serious competitive threats. Perhaps the 1990's court battles qualify.

To be fair, Microsoft is far from dead. It continues to court enterprise users with Azure on the virtualization front, where frustration is growing about VMware's new pricing plans. Microsoft also announced "Project Daytona," a set of tools and services aimed at people who want to do big data analysis as a service. If you're using the open-source Hadoop platform for big data slicing and dicing, this move will interest you. Guess whose technology can be found inside Project Daytona? Google's.

Speaking of Google, maybe you're one of the users who were warned by Google Wednesday, or earlier in the week, about malware on your PC. How creeped out should this make you on a privacy level? See what's Thomas Claburn has to say about the privacy issues and the security threat.

Expect Google hacking to make some news soon. Two security researchers are putting the spotlight on it at the upcoming BlackHat security confab in August. As our colleagues at Dark Reading report, the duo will unveil tools named "Diggity" to "help enterprises 'Google hack' themselves to identify potential avenues of attack before the bad guys do. The researchers suggest that LulzSec used Google Hacking as one point of entry in recent attacks.

Also, be on the lookout for bad puns related to the name Diggity. I already see the headlines: Hot Diggity! Diggity A Dog. Do You Diggity It?

As if the Lion puns weren't bad enough.

Laurianne McLaughlin is editor-in-chief for Follow her on Twitter at @lmclaughlin.

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