Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Who will kill who?

Internet Outsider blogged So the big story these days is that Google and Microsoft are going to war and that either could win. This is a big story because it's a great story: two undefeated heavyweights preparing to bash each other's brains out. Alas, it's also fiction.

Despite ten years of effort, vast technological and financial resources, and a legendary intensity, Microsoft is running a distant third in the web wars (behind Google and Yahoo!)--and it continues to fall farther behind. Importantly, this is almost the same competitive position Microsoft occupied in 1995, when Yahoo! was run out of a dorm room and Google didn't exist. Microsoft was trying desperately to win the Internet war then, and it has tried desperately every year since. And despite all its assets, the best it has been able to do is run a distant third.

Microsoft wants to swallow everyone, but as this indicates, they lost the search market, and their AoL Killer, MSN, certainly did not achieve its objective either.
From a high level, this is not surprising: the leader of one technology revolution rarely dominates the next. Microsoft is an enterprise software company, not a consumer web services company, and therefore its success on the web is commendable. Commendable does not mean dominant, however, and those who argue that Microsoft's new search technology will suddenly overthrow Google are forgetting all that has happened in the last ten years.

In the absence of disastrous mistakes by Google and Yahoo!, Microsoft's best chance to win with MSN is to merge it with AOL and spin it off. This would be extraordinarily challenging, and it would not guarantee success: the merged company would still run third behind Google and Yahoo!. A combined MSN-AOL, however, would be far stronger than either company alone.
AoL has passed it's hayday. They bought Netscape in an attempt to kill off Microsoft's IE, and totally failed. They are now milking the AoL Cash Cow to enable them to use the Netscape name to undercut NetZero in the dialup market place, but dial up is on the way out as broadband takes over.
Click here to read a PDF Document The Web War is Over and Microsoft Lost

Microsoft Watch blogged 'GoogleOffice': A Microsoft Office Killer? - If 'GoogleOffice' ever materializes, it won't be going head-to-head with Microsoft Office. Instead, expect some new MSN services in the pipeline to emerge as Redmond's secret weapons. To hear Sun, Google and the Anything But Microsoft campers tell it, Microsoft Office will be officially toast any day now. I say they're wrong. But not because Microsoft Office — even with 90+ percent of the desktop office suite market share to its credit — is unbeatable.... Whenever — and if ever — Sun and Microsoft deliver a light-weight, fast, cheap Web-based Office alternative, Microsoft Office will not be its primary competitor, however. Instead, the growing collection of MSN Services, especially the pending "Kahuna" Hotmail upgrade and Microsoft's as-yet-unannounced hosted SMB collaboration bundle, will be what the Redmondians pit against the new "StarOffice in the sky" offering.
Remember a number of years ago when Microsoft was pushing the idea of Net Applications, where your access terminal did not have a hard drive, and you stored your data on the net, and paid for the applications by paying a small amount each time you used it? That idea really bombed, and I think this is going to be a repeat of that bomb.
Microsoft Office is a "smart" (a k a, fat, bloated — choose your beefy synonym of choice) client. It's not meant to run over the Web. Ask folks who've tried using a hosted version of Office. It's a slow and painful experience. Outlook Web Access and Kahuna (the Hotmail/Outlook Web Access successor, also known as MSN Mail) are Ajax applications. They were designed from the get-go as Web apps. Kahuna is currently in a small private beta test. The Kahuna team, which has been blogging and Channel 9ing its way into visibility, has said to expect Kahuna to look nothing like Hotmail. The app will look and feel a bit like Outlook, but will be faster, simpler and safer than its predecessor, team members have said. No word yet on when it will go live or how it will be distributed or packaged. But it will be a "brand new service," the team members promise. Kahuna isn't the only potential competitor to a Google Office. Sources have said to expect a new hosted collaboration suite aimed at small/mid-size business customers to launch under the MSN banner some time soon. The bundle will include e-mail, unified messaging, instant messaging, VOIP and data-conferencing capabilities all rolled into a single, hosted collaboration suite, partners told Microsoft Watch. With its latest reorg, and its decision to unify the platforms and MSN services teams into a single division, the Microsoft brass put in place a structure better suited to defend against Sun/Google-style partnerships and their associated services offerings.

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