Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Microsoft Beast Stirs

An interesting confluence of events brings me to the conclusion that Microsoft has finally stirred from its slumber in relation to Google.

On the Google side we have, amongst others, the following:
A number of these directly hit at Microsoft. Google's online applications closely mirror Microsoft's Office, the OS, based on Linux will directly compete with Windows. Google Chrome is awesome although pages with .Net code behind them seem to have trouble rendering...

To date, Microsoft, in my opinion, hasn't really done too much or at least not too much of consequence.

However, this has now changed. Firstly, Microsoft has announced it will be taking Office online (http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2008/10/microsoft-office-will-float-to-the-cloud-with-office-web.ars). Google apps has frankly always underwhelmed me. While the concept is great the functionality was simply never there for me and hasn't evolved too much over time. I know of no Windows-based workplace which has abandoned Office to use Google Apps. Hopefully Google will now step up to the plate and actually provide something equivalent to Word and Excel.

Putting Office in the cloud is a passing shot across the bow of S.S. Google. The really smart play is getting their search engine right. Microsoft have recently changed their search engine from Live Search to Bing (http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2009/may09/05-28NewSearchPR.mspx). I'm still in the Google search engine camp because, frankly, it returns better results but let's assume Microsoft get it right. People will start using Bing instead of Google and suddenly no more Google Adverts in search. Based on Google's last annual report, ad revenue was about 30% of their business. That's a big hit to take. Sure there will be Google ads in web pages but I know I happily ignore them and many browsers remove them for you.

The latest Microsoft-Yahoo co-venture (http://www.pcworld.com/article/169295/bing_was_tipping_point_in_microsoftyahoo_deal.html) is the rallying of the troops and providing a potentially viable alternative to the Google search-ad business model. I'm expecting price wars galore, FUD campaigns and wars of attrition. Exciting times.

If you think Google search is too big to be toppled, cast your mind back to the days of Mosaic and Netscape Navigator (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosaic_(web_browser)). There was a time when Mosaic was the only browser of choice for the internet. Now its a distant memory. For a more recent example, remember MySpace or GeoCities (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GeoCities).

The only thing that is inevitable is change and that the victors write the history books.