Well, for starters, I discovered I already had the word processor that I was searching for during previous entries. Turns out, Works for DOS will save in a text format that doesn't wrap lines in the saved file, but saves the CR/LFs like a proper text editor. Anyways, that's what I came up with, for all of you that care.
So, Sun buys Star Systems, thus giving it a great office suite, and the capabilities to provide services for free over the internet. A day later, Microsoft jumps up and says "Hey, yeah, we're gonna do that too!" The future now has one of two possibilities -- either Microsoft will kill the ability of other people to serve their applications, or true network computing will become a reality again.
When I say again, I mean that for years and years, applications lived on the servers and your computer was just the interface. The PC afforded the power for each person to have enough power on their desktop to replace the fraction of server power that they used before. Nowadays, very little happens on servers, actually; internet servers don't provide action for the users -- they just provide the raw information and the processing is completed on the user's desktop by a browser or a client or other custom software.
Microsoft put their double edged sword into the mix; they created the means by which the personal computer could take the front in computing today, but greed and intelligent corporate strategies limited the options and capabilities to only Microsoft related products had an influence. This meant that only companies embracing Microsoft's philosophies got their way. There were a few holdouts, people using unix or linux for specialized purposes, that kept the previously widespread technologies working and the non-microsoft technologies moving forward.
But, companies have been trying to advance X-Windows, Java, Inferno, and many other technologies, which were contrary to Microsoft's ideals. X-Windows provided server-side processing, Java provides multi-platform compatibility, and Inferno provides a mix of the both and some more on top of that. Unfortunately, what they also do is reduce the reliance on Microsoft/Intel/IBM related equipment, which has a negative influence on those 3 major corporations. There is no other reason to explain or excuse their reluctance to embrace those new technologies, regardless of the benefits and possibilities that they provide.
But, enough people have caught on to the benefits of network computing. These technologies work outside of the standard computing circles that have dominated the industry -- they are created without profit in mind, they are multi-system, multi-platform, and highly configurable, and anyone can write their own programs for them. Here lies the dillema that the computing industry is in today -- how can you stay influential and "ahead of the pack", with a product that you can't make money off of? Profit comes from operating systems, compilers, servers, and the big pieces of computing. If the most you can charge for an operating system is the cost of marketing the disk (as is usually the case with public domain software), then there is no drive to develop the software.
When something stops being profitable, it dies in today's market, just like 8 tracks, Betamax, and any number of formats of video disks. However, if computing technology continues in the open, network oriented direction that it is going, then public domain and open source software will take the front position in everything, from home computers to business applications. This will make the big-money technologies of today unprofitable, but gives the big corporations no direction to go that continues to be profitable. Where will the money come from to develop the software, if only one copy of the software lives on a server and can be used by any number of people? It is possible that advertising co-branding, like that which pays for NetZero. Micropayments made for each access or minute of access to the program could make high-prices software like Office (which costs you hundreds wether you write letters or keep the company payroll spreadsheets balanced with it) affordable by charging people for their actual use. Or, maybe the software design industry will become efficient, saving billions on program design costs by paying the programmers $8 an hour instead of $20 or $30 an hour. Any which way you look at it, consumers are discovering that they can get the same things for much less. They are drooling at the idea of getting access to a high-power word processor without having to buy anything. That slack will need to be picked up somewhere -- either the forward movement that the industry is taking will be stopped by the people who stand to lose the most money, or it will be embraced and the industry will embrace the ideas and find a new way to make their money.