Drinking too much Google Kool-Aid

Drinking too much Google Kool-Aid

Summary: On the Steve Gillmor Daily show podcast (here and here), Steve and I debate about an upcoming battle between Microsoft and Google for dominance in the next wave of computing. Of course, the notion of Google laying siege to Microsoft's cash cow is over-hyped, over-analyzed and presumes that all kinds of things will neatly fall into place.

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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On the Steve Gillmor Daily show podcast (here and here), Steve and I debate about an upcoming battle between Microsoft and Google for dominance in the next wave of computing. Of course, the notion of Google laying siege to Microsoft's cash cow is over-hyped, over-analyzed and presumes that all kinds of things will neatly fall into place. Steve believes that Google's piecing together of an ad-supported Office-like suite will force Microsoft to bundle whatever Office Live is becoming with Windows Vista when it ships. The land-locked Office 2007 bundle is dead, he says.

My take is that Steve, a dedicated Gmail/Gtalk user, drinks too much Google Kool-Aid. Microsoft will have a slick ad-supported Office in its bag, but the GMail, Writely, Blogger combo isn't unassailable or competitive anytime soon with Office 2007 for the installed base of Office business users. Even if Google adds the basic spreadsheet, presentation capabilities and more collaborative features--no rocket science required--what would make it so compelling that users would flock to it?

Clearly Microsoft is responding to Google's challenge (here's a list of the Windows Live services in the works) as it did to Netscape's a decade ago. It's not about rich client desktop applications versus rich client networked applications. For Microsoft, given its heritage, it's about having the best of both worlds, integrating online and offline, e.g., Windows Live Desktop. There's no mystery about what direction to head (see the photo below), it's all about speed and execution. And, remember, Microsoft is the company that came up with Live Clipboard.

MSLive2.jpg

Online is emerging as the dominant architecture for everyday consumer applications, but business applications will require more and more reliable bandwidth and grids, software infrastructure that meets corporate and regulatory requirements and major mindset changes. It won't be next year, or the next. Microsoft will have its online Office Lite, giving users a choice and promoting the "seamless integration" theme. Then it becomes an issue of whether customers want to say in the Windows fold or go with more open and composable, and potentially lower cost, alternatives.

No doubt, Microsoft's historic business model is stressed as open source, ad-supported and less costly alternatives to Office, Exchange, Windows, etc. gain traction, but Microsoft eventually figures out how to adapt. Google dominates search and is soaking up the ad revenue, but that doesn't mean it gets a free pass for other categories or that a drag effect uniformly applies.

What we end up with is a period of great hyperactivity and innovation. None of the companies are standing still, and plenty of start-ups creating innovative applications are praying that AOL, Google, Microsoft, News Corp., Yahoo and others in the hunt will compete for their favors. Google vs. Microsoft is going to make both companies better, but Google better hope that the ad revenues continue to rise like interest rates...

Topic: Microsoft

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  • Too much Google Kool-Aid indeed!

    "For Microsoft, given its heritage, it's about having the best of both worlds, integrating online and offline"

    I think you hit the nail on the head. The thing that none of these web companies know how to do is offline operation. Native code rich clients once they adopt the best of the web world will indeed offer the best of both worlds without the bloat and performance issues. Too much Google Kool-Aid indeed!
    george_ou
    • Too much Google

      http://www.analogstereo.com/chrysler_owners_manual.htm
      uk_forum
  • George is right Dan. You nailed it.

    Google Kool-Aid drinkers need to study their recent history a bit more before proclaiming that Office is dead (as Gillmor loves to say). Microsoft can be slow to react, maddeningly inefficient in getting products out the door, and often appear more than a touch complacent, but they do react, they do ship products, and they have no desire to lose.

    Things are just beginning to get interesting and, as George has written often, the combination of a powerful offline client and access to your stuff online is a tough hand to beat in a game of tech poker.
    morchant
    • Yes, because people want it all

      "the combination of a powerful offline client and access to your stuff online is a tough hand to beat in a game of tech poker."

      People want their cake and eat it too. The fact that Microsoft will bundle these applications in to Vista isn't going to hurt either. Google is already nervous about IE7 because of the default search settings. Sure you can change them to Google or whoever else, but most people won't. Google is so nervous about this that they actually ask people who are running IE7 to download an EXE file to automatically change the default IE7 settings.

      GMail?s biggest ?feature? was the GB mailbox and storage. That really isn?t a differentiator anymore since Microsoft can afford to give you a GB too (not that you?ll come close to using it since broadband is too slow for larger files). The other biggest feature of GMail is that you can use it anywhere inside a browser. Microsoft?s been playing the AJAX and webmail game for a long time before anyone every though of the word AJAX. One of these years, Microsoft might actually buy enough of a clue to get search right.
      george_ou
      • Unfounded Assumptions

        [i]Google is already nervous about IE7 because of the default search
        settings. Sure you can change them to Google or whoever else, but most
        people won't.[/i]

        What makes you believe this? I've used IE7, and that's the first
        thing I changed. Most search users are [i]not[/i] agnostic about
        their search engines. This comes from years of the search engine
        [i]not[/i] being a part of the browser in IE or the old Netscape. I
        know people who [i]refuse[/i] to use Google and use Excite
        exclusively. I also know people like me who'll only use Google on a
        regular basis (although if I'm really stuck on something, I will try
        other engines). Compare Google's userbase to the MSN Search userbase.
        Those numbers tell you something.

        [i]GMail's biggest "feature" was the GB mailbox and storage. That
        really isn't a differentiator anymore since Microsoft can afford to
        give you a GB too (not that you'll come close to using it since
        broadband is too slow for larger files). The other biggest feature of
        GMail is that you can use it anywhere inside a browser. Microsoft's
        been playing the AJAX and webmail game for a long time before anyone
        every though of the word AJAX. One of these years, Microsoft might
        actually buy enough of a clue to get search right.[/i]

        First, GMail is up to 2.7GB now, so the space is still a
        differentiator. Secondly, Gmail does have a limitation in terms of
        its usefulness with large files, but it's largely self-imposed. (It
        won't let you transfer files > 10MB, IIRC.)

        The Web-based nature of GMail isn't in any sense a "biggest feature".
        Webmail has been done to death, so that could never distinguish a
        player in the field. What Gmail does better than anyone in the field
        right now is help you [i]organize and search[/i] e-mails better than
        anyone else.

        Just in general, I think you're also making a big mistake when you
        talk about offline versus online. In a few years' time, there won't
        [i]be[/i] an "offline", in the sense that wireless will be ubiquitous.

        I don't have any idea which company, if any, will dominate the field
        10 years down the line. But I do know that the company which makes
        the best assumptions about its competitors and the future will be in
        the best position. So far, it looks like the field belongs to Google.
        bhartman36
        • What about Google snooping the emails

          Google provides better email search but at a price. This is an open secret that Google scans the emails and profiles us for what...TARGETED ADVERTISING

          Would you have agreed to this same arrangement if Microsoft provided the same kind of email search while profiling us by snooping our emails??

          I am always amused to see how people bend of backwards to accept anything that Google does.
          -debp
          TrueSpeak
          • Searching

            Hi, debp.

            You said:

            [i]This is an open secret that Google scans the emails and profiles us for what...TARGETED ADVERTISING

            Would you have agreed to this same arrangement if Microsoft provided the same kind of email search while profiling us by snooping our emails??[/i]

            First -- and most importantly -- it's [i]not[/i] an "open secret". Google tells you right up front that they're going to index your e-mails. Secondly, it's not really profiling. Profiling would be, "We know this guy likes cars, so every time he hits the website, hit him with a car ad." Gmail hits you with ads related to each particular e-mail. (Sometimes it does this well. Sometimes...not so much.) The ads that do show up alongside your e-mails are completely unobtrusive. There's no graphics, no pop-ups, etc. Most of the time, I don't even notice that ads are there.

            Now, would I trust Microsoft with the same kind of system? Because of Microsoft's history, I'd have to say no. Microsoft has a history of [i]not[/i] disclosing things, and of not dealing fairly in the marketplace. They're very different companies, in that regard. Now, if Amazon ever came up with an e-mail service with similar features, I might be more willing to trust them. That's not really their line of work, though.
            bhartman36
          • Wait until Google has a history.....then you will see

            I dont agree with the way Microsoft handles many things the way they do, but the fact is, a company thats been as rich as Microsoft is, for as long as Microsoft has been, they all get more then a little used to doing things "Their Way". Which is not always the best way for us. Its not right, its just the way it always works out.
            Now Google....If you dont like Microsoft, well in about 10 or 15 years you will be also dealing with the same problems and worse from what by then will very likely be the "Google Monster".
            Google is getting rich a lot faster then Microsoft did, and Google is breaking out of their original market in alot of areas alot faster then Microsoft did.
            All these years after the original start up of Microsoft, most of the public can still just think of Microsoft in terms of operating systems and now the X-Box. Ive got a feeling if Google is left unchecked before we know it there will be Google everything. And, like all rich companies, they will be doing it "Their Way" most of the time, which is not always the best way for us.
            Cayble
  • Web-based apps: WHY?

    There was a lot here for me to respond to, I had to blog on it separately:

    http://techrepublic.com.com/5254-6257-0.html?forumID=99&threadID=184332&messageID=1987918&id=2926438

    J.Ja
    Justin James
    • Bad link...

      Speaking of lousy online apps... here's the right link:

      <a href="http://techrepublic.com.com/5254-6257-0.html?forumID=99&threadID=184332&messageID=1987918&id=2926438">http://techrepublic.com.com/5254-6257-0.html?forumID=99&threadID=184332&messageID=1987918&id=2926438</a>
      Justin James
      • BAD LINK ONCE AGAIN

        <a href="http://techrepublic.com.com/5254-6257-0.html?forumID=99&threadID=184332&;messageID=1987918&id=2926438">Link here</a>

        The anger and frustration of trying to post a simple bloody link to ZDNet is amazing.

        Your software stinks.

        I just tried wrapping the link with a <a> even though the directions don't mention any code to do a link. It made the problem worse.

        If after 10 YEARS of web development, a simple system for posting a link can't be found, what makes people thinkt hat an entire application is going to work?

        J.Ja
        Justin James
        • This is rediculous.

          I am beyond amazed now. Apparently, I can't put &lt;a&gt; in a post without it attemtping to make a link, even though it shouldn't make a link.

          I can't even post a long-ish link.

          Give me a week on the payroll there and I will recode this to work correctly. And build in an "edit this post" feature. And build in a "preview post" feature. In fact, give me a DAY on the payroll to do this things.

          In fact, let's put ZDNet's "outsource everything!" philosophy to the test: I'll do this all for $15,000 as a 1099 contractor.

          J.Ja
          Justin James
          • outsource everything

            http://www.analogstereo.com/chrysler_300m_owners_manual.htm
            uk_forum
    • Try this link

      <a href="http://techrepublic.com.com/5254-6257-0.html?forumID=99&threadID=184332&messageID=1987918&id=2926438">link here</a>
      george_ou
      • ZDNet Server failure

        It failed both for him and for you. Why am I not surprised? He is right, ZDNet software stinks and they should hire someone new to fix it.
        balsover
        • Grow up

          [i]He is right, ZDNet software stinks and they should hire someone new to fix it.[/i]

          Sure, they can fix the ZDNet servers, if there was something to fix. Or you can realize that you are dealing with a text area and that they are [i]choosing[/i] to ignore certain tags. In that case, just paste plain text, and any techie surfing this site with a clue, can cut n paste it into their browser.

          Sounds simpler than trolling to me.

          Also... if ZDNet software stinks, why are you even using it, or this site for that matter?
          kckn4fun
          • That is what was originally done

            That is actually EXACTLY what was originally done, because it has always worked like that in the past. Thus, ZDNet's software stinks. :)

            And yes, the severe problems that ZDNet's comments system have had over the last few months is causing me to serious consider whether or not to continue to participate in the TalkBacks. It is a real kick in the croth to take time out of my day writing a comment that could frequently be a blog post unto itself, only to have their servers or software trash it.

            J.Ja
            Justin James
        • Take original URL without spaces

          There are some software issues that inject spaces in to the URL.
          george_ou
  • Like everything else it will be here sooner than everyone thinks

    Just the hype alone is persuading Microsoft to offer these type solutions, Office Lite or Office Live, and creating an alternative for even large enterprises. We have 10,000 users that really just need an Office Lite solution, not a $300 a head, underutilized Office 2007 suite. As usual, market forces help the market get what they really need.
    ccisat1dxj
    • You already have one

      Try using Wordpad for your word processor, it is more than enough for most documents and it is included with Windows. If you need more than that such as spreadsheets then perhaps you should be paying $300/head
      balsover