Definitely read it. But here are the highlights.
MS view their newly friendly relations with Sun as their access to the standards communities, where Sun are big players.
MS knows it has to give up on
- a) locking users into proprietory formats, and
- b) long term roll-outs of complex upgrades of stand-alone, desktop applications
Instead, MS want to move towards renting access to light-applications, hooked into back-end services. So expect, for example, the new Office and newer versions of Windows to depend more heavily on MSN.
This, getting out of big, stand-alone desktop applications is also their response to the challenge from free-software. Source-code is less important, servers and services more so.
MS think Google want to compete in the same game, using OpenOffice as their front-end; but in fact Google will want to truly wrap and commoditise the desktop OS and client by going full AJAX and doing everything in the browser.
Sun will sell the back-end servers for Google.
Beyond this, Cringely, modestly claims he can't see.
Here's one way it might go. Amazon have Z-Shops. EBay exist to allow one customer / user to sell to another.
Google are one of the "infrastructure giants" of the internet. Do they really want to be selling services direct to the users? Or even reselling Sun servers to users? What they really want to be doing (I suggest) is helping wire-up other people who sell services to each other.
Of course, that's why they're in Grid computing, providing WiFi, and encouraging other people to mash-up their map data. AdSense monetizes the relationship between content providers and content readers. Google will want to monetize application builders selling to application users.
And anything that helps application builders, helps Google.
Which means that if Ning turns out to be at all succesful, I suspect Google would be very interested.
BTW : I notice Ning now seems to have a cool biodiesel finder app.