The New York Times has a story on the battle brewing between Google and Microsoft. The story doesn't add anything new or Google knols to the converging paths of the two companies. Google's CEO Eric Schmidt said 90 percent of computing action--“almost everything you do in a company, almost everything a knowledge worker does," he said--will move to the cloud.
Microsoft's head of business software Jeff Raikes calls Schmidt's assertion "competitive self interest" aimed at making Microsoft look out of touch with reality. But the reality for Microsoft and proof of concept is 500 million users of Microsoft Office and a concerted focus led by chief software architect Ray Ozzie on bridging the online and offline worlds, delivering on the usage scenarios that customers want. Even Google with its Google Gears recognizes that offline support is a requirement for business users today on the not alway on planet.
Chris Capossela, vice president of the Office group, expresses Microsoft's stance toward competitors: “Needless to say, we are going to do everything we can to remain the leader in this space. And whoever comes our way, we’ll certainly be waiting for them.”
"Waiting for them" means that if Google Apps or Zoho or whatever cloud-based office suite gains traction, Microsoft will have a competitive product ready when it needs it.
As Don Dodge, who works for Microsoft said in his blog post:
Ultimately the customers decide who wins. Great companies adapt to changes in the marketplace. Lazy companies cling to their "tried and true" business models in the face of disruptive forces. Microsoft is a great company...so is Google. Both will be successful in their own way...and the customer wins either way. That is the American way!
However, Google has one key advantage that could be a differentiator as more applications transition to the cloud over the next decade. Search will become even more central applications as more data and Web services are accessible--both offline and online--via increasingly smarter search engines.
There is a scenario for search-enabled applications. Need a formula for a certain calculation--type in or say what you need in natural language and the engine finds the appropriate formula and can even trigger the calculation. Or tell the search engine while you are in your document processor to find your notes on a topic and combine it with the most high ranking articles on the Web. Google currently is the search brand and dominates the category with about 65 percent market share
The idea of building deeper and smarter connections between search and applications is not lost on Google or Microsoft. In the end, the competition is all good for customers.