Is Microsoft outthinking Google?

Is Microsoft outthinking Google?

Summary: With WPF/WinFX, Microsoft has a very powerful way to deliver Rich Internet Applications. In the battle for the web office, Google seems to be stuck working within the web browser while Microsoft can deploy a powerful framework to a variety of PCs and devices which gives them a big edge in the race for software as a service.

TOPICS: Microsoft

Microsoft gets a pretty bad rap around the blogosphere. I've always found it fascinating that a company like Microsoft, which has managed to survive, and some would say flourish, in a variety of economic conditions is dismissed by so many people. That's not to say that Microsoft hasn't made mistakes, because it has. The delay of Vista, its inability to break into the search market and the way it has haphazardly branched out into many verticals, can all be considered strikes against it. But recently, Bill Gates & co have been talking up the model of software as a service. Google's acquisition of Writely and its own offerings have caused speculation that Google is going to try and hit Microsoft where they are most valuable, in their office suite. Google has been hailed as inventive, while Microsoft has been labeled as the copycat without any original ideas.


Not only do I think this is unfair, I think that Microsoft is going to be in a better position than Google in the next couple of years when it comes to a "web office". LiveSide reported that Microsoft is looking at ways to bring Office Live to the mobile space. If they can do that right, then that could be huge for customers. Imagine business users running a Rich Internet Application version of Word or Excel on their mobile devices. A purely web implementation of this would be clugy and difficult to do across the wide range of devices that exist today. However Microsoft, with WPF on the horizon, will have a standard way for developers to write applications for Vista and their devices. There is immense value in this because once you break these applications out of the web browser, you open up access to underlying OS APIs as well as free yourself from the question of what will render correctly in the browser. For mobile devices, the web browser model becomes even more problematic.


If Microsoft can deploy their .NET framework and WPF to other machines, then business adoption could be very significant and business will continue to use Microsoft's office suite. It is going to be very difficult to get business to adopt the software as a service model through a web browser. Inherently, web browsers are less secure, not standardized, and perform poorly on devices. If businesses have he option of deploying a rich internet application as their office suite, adoption is much more likely. With RIAs you get the power of the web: the connectedness and the ubiquity, but you can still provide a compelling, engaging user experience similar to one on the desktop. With WPF, I think Microsoft may be two steps ahead of Google in the race to provide office as a service.

Topic: Microsoft

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  • The inexorable laws of nature

    "Is Microsoft outthinking Google?"

    At first, to outthink someone requires that you are capable of a thinking but it is NOT clear that the MS "engineers" or "visionaries" are capable of that.

    Second, Google has already been here fully-fledged in the last 2 years AT LEAST. You can find out almost everything, even where you left your car keys. All the while MS "engineers" are doing their best to .... patch IE (and not very successfully as everyone can see).

    I would be glad if MS could come up with something innovative OR AT LEAST with DOING SOMETHING BETTER than others, vs. coppying out or pushing smaller (but smarter) folks out of the way.

    BTW, the fact the the MS advertisements take more space than the actual posting is telling.
    • Not Enough Credit

      I just don't think MSFT gets enough credit, and in this case, I think they are being visionary, but we won't see the fruits of that for a little while. Google has some great projects, and the competition is going to be good for everyone. I'm just not sure they're moving in the right direction long term. That may change, but isn't the case right now.

      Also, I just liked the Office Live picture; it wasn't supposed to be an ad. I need to be more careful. Thanks for reading Michael.
      • Unfortunately, MS gets way more credit than they deserve

        Overall, until now they have done nothing visionary or innovative.

        They promoted and largely convinced users to buy into the FAT PC client paradigm (keep a copy of all the data + apps you need in your PC) where YOU have to keep maintain its s/w apps, and take care of the data itself. Unsacalable, insecure and too much overhead / user to maintain everything.

        Now that others are trying to offer Office app functionality over the browser (for convenience) MS is trying to offer "server-centric data and functionality distribution and it tries to lock out competing server vendors by NOT making thes desktop to server protocols public (thus leveraging their desktop monopoly to push people to their "server" products).

        Where is the innovation or visionary or other worthwhile contributions? I could do truely distributed grapical applications and processing/ file sharing, etc. with X11 since the 80s in UNIX.

        Don't get impressed by the fancy GUIs. Technologically were never significant for anything. They are rich but not technologists.
        • you're short sighted

          You make it sound like people wanting to keep their data on their devices is a bad thing... just because YOU don't like it, doesn't mean others don't.

          Bottom line, I'm one of those that likes to keep my stuff with me, protected by me, and if lost, its by me, not someone else. The fact of the matter is, all this "webify" movement is doing is taking us back to the mainframe days with a richer interface...

          .... and we all know how well that worked out.
          • Where did you [u]see[/u] me saying that I do not want people to

            maintain data locally?

            I am NOT in favor of having to maintain N copies of the SAME client s/w or even worse, N copies of the SAME DATA on N PCs. This IS MS "model": you pucrhase and maintain as many copies as you have PCs.

            For serious environemtns data and common code can saved SECURELY on robust servers and maintened ONCE. If you cannot afford higher end server just stick to a good PC.

            Do you keep BACKUPs of your valuble data? IDE/ATA drives are NOTORIOUS for failing if usage is anything more than mild one.
        • you're half right...

          You hit the nail half on the head michael_t, MS marketing sucks and the people who like to mouth off all do so saying how much MS technology sucks, but they couldn't be more wrong nowadays.

          For example, when you talk about MS engineers (and architects presumably) as not being able to think then boy, oh boy, have you got it wrong. It might not have started out that way, but in its current state, the .NET vision just blows me away with how well put together and all-encompassing it is.

          I used to *HATE* just about every single Microsoft technology that came out. When Win2K came on the scene, I started slowly
          changing my opinion of their OS and now am very happy with XP (not into Vista yet tho). I still hated their developer technologies (e.g. DirectX, COM, MFC and many other
          totally ugly APIs) and was thoroughly dismissive of .NET as an uber-lame Java wanna-be when it first came out.

          But now, with the .NET Framework at version 3.5, I am doing a complete about-face. I now consider .NET the ultimate foundation for any future software development work.

          For someone who bothers to educate themselves in technologies like WPF (and related ones like XAML, XBAP, etc...), the DLR/CLR, the foundational changes that we are seeing in the Windows OS architecture, (e.g. driver architecture enhancements) and also considering the fact that Mono is maturing well, we realize that NO ALTERNATIVE IN THE OPEN SOURCE OR JAVA WORLD EVEN COMES CLOSE to how Microsoft is putting all these things together in a synergistic way!

          I am so glad open source exists because it seems quite obvious that it is the very worthy competition from it that is driving Microsoft to excel the way it has been doing lately.
    • yeah yeah yeah

      Whatever. MS trash talk.
      MS was the innovator of AJAX related technology. They came up with it and used it in the 90s. That is the crux of all Google is....w/o that they would be nothing. All the great ideas in the world can't fly without the right engine to drive them.
      So Google can thank the engineers at MS for that one and all the other MS technology Google is exploiting, e.g. the mmc.
      But you are probably right. Surely MS has no technical staff whatsoever any better than a bunch of Joe's off the street with a vo-tech cert in Dataprocessing.
      • I agree with you

        ``But you are probably right. Surely MS has no technical staff whatsoever any better than a bunch of Joe's off the street with a vo-tech cert in Dataprocessing.''

        and this is clearly corroborated by the lengthy history of unstable and insecure s/w.

        I just wonder if MS produced the AJAX technology that you claim is behind Google's successful infrastructure, WHAT did MS do with it and WHY MS did not offerd a Google-like service BEFORE Google? They definitely MUST BE Joes off the street with a certificate in DP.... ;-)
        • I neither agree nor disagree, here's where i'm at.....

          "Is Microsoft outthinking Google?" And so who really cares. MS puts out a browser. Google puts out a search engine. They are mutually complementary, neither functions well without the other.

          What we have is the case of the roadmap. But the roadmap is generally worthless, particularly the detailed city portions, without having an idea of what you are looking for. Google provides the detailed locations to go to to find the corner grocery store, the corner liquor store, the corner drug store, etc.

          Without the map, all the stores would be a simple list with no way to get there. Without the search engine to find specifically what you are looking for - an address - the map is just another pretty picture.

          But to the larger question. I have enough trouble maintaining security on my own computer and system. I know what these troubles are like and the added difficulties they can cause. files are here at hand, on my computer and on my backup media.

          My programs may have cost a pretty penny - actually Word Perfect (roughly 10X better than MS Word) was only about $25 Cdn. New, registerable, on CD.

          Knowing my needs, why would I ever trust some massive outside server to store my data, making it far more vulnerable (as a composite package of hundreds of people's work) to theft or compromise, making it vulnerable even to my own access by my own ISP downtimes as well as the server's downtimes and failings. And why would I subject myself to working on a "leased" program per use, also subject to myriad failings and resultant loss of work while I'm working.

          My data is proprietory - all my graphic designs over the past 15+ years, all my original art work, all my original digital photography - and stored on my own computer it is far more secure than on a distant server somewhere.

          Don't get me wrong, I'm sure this is the coming wave of computing. Just not now, and definitely not ever for me. Maybe in another 20 or so years it'll be the only game in town - but I'll be gone by then, one way or the other and won't care any more. For now, ain't no way. Windy
          • I accept what you said and I am only advising

            that you keep your valuable data in a "recoverable fashion": meaning regular backups on redudant media. Also, if you are a heavy user of storage and you can afford it, invest on scsi or SAS (NOT SATA) disks. They are **many many** times more reliable (let alone faster).

            As for the centralization: in larger organizations (workgroup and above) the above functionality of secure, recoverable, shared and fast storage can only be implemented on central locations.

      • Really asynchonous access to a browser was MS idea???

        I seem to remember programming call back methods into my java applets as early as 1996 (Java 1.1 RMI classes loaded). I also seem to remember loading my first OpenORB java web applet client in 1998 where I was doing CORBA calls back to two different appservers (one J2EE the other Orbix). So now that the call back is in Javascript you want to call it new? Now that the DOM is hammered out (who standardized the DOM.. MS... I don't think so)you want to redeclare innovation? Don't lie about who innovated inside the browser without the nod to our friends in the Netscape and Java communities in the 1990s. You have a very selective and short memory.

        May Adobe Macromedia stone us all.....
  • A stupid question ...

    deserves a stupid answer:
    Reverend MacFellow
    • You are right.....

      That was stupid answer.
  • Internet applications should use standards, otherwise, call them

    priprietary network applications. Microsoft is trying to create a private, Microsoft only internet. This will give them lock-in and let them keep charging monopoly prices. This has nothing to do with security or anything else. As a matter of fact, how can you assume that any of this will be secure since there will be millions of lines of new code and also given Microsoft's reputation.

    Yes, it is a good strategy, but not for the reasons you gave.

    Let this be a call to Google and others to figure out how to do rich interactive web applications with Firefox extensions.
    • Lock In

      You're absolutely right that Microsoft is trying to create a private, Microsoft only internet. I think we both agree that's not in everyone's best interest. But they will provide some compelling applications via that private internet. Unfortunately, companies don't seem to mind being locked in. Thanks for commenting, this is great stuff.
    • Rich internet applications... with nonstandardized Firefox extensions?

      "Internet applications should use standards" ... "Let this be a call to Google and others to figure out how to do rich interactive web applications with Firefox extensions."

      Last time I checked, Firefox extensions weren't "standards" approved by a standards body such as W3C, ISO, ECMA, etc. Your posting smacks a bit of hyprocrisy.
      • Rich internet applications....

        "Last time I checked, Firefox extensions weren't "standards" approved by a standards body such as W3C, ISO, ECMA, etc. Your posting smacks a bit of hyprocrisy...."

        So does yours....MS totally ignored all the WWW and Java and other standards and created their own. This is why, when you look at a Frontpage designed web site in Netscape, Opera or Firefox (or many others) you won't see it display as it does on IE.

        Why? Because IE/Frontpage (up till the newest releases) was MS Proprietary standards, not WWW html standards. Windy
    • Firefox? What a joke

      First of all, getting Firefox to do some of the things that IE can (like ummm, processing XML?) is a nightmare.

      If Google was really smart, they'd be teaming up with Firefox folks to upgrade that browser in a way that it BADLY needs it. As it is, most of the public uses IE... what incentive does Firefox give?

      More security? LOL. Tell you what, I'll spend the extra $20 to buy security software that covers M$ shortcomings in favor of the

      *****feature rich*****

      web experience, and um ps: based on the widespread adoption of certain products (like iPod, iTunes, IE, PLASMA TVs) I'd say the public at large leans heeeavily towards features over stability of function.
      • Deja Vu all over again

        [i]First of all, getting Firefox to do some of the things that IE can (like ummm, processing XML?) is a nightmare.[/i]

        Perhaps, but getting IE to do some things that Firefox can (like ummm, running on all operating system platforms) is also a nightmare.

        This reminds me of the [i]data processing[/i] world before PCs and Microsoft. Everything was on the mainframe running on proprietary IBM hardware with proprietary IBM operating systems (MVS) using proprietary communications protocols (SNA). It worked ok, but there was an upstart operating system called UNIX that that stuff wouldn't run on. IBM really wanted no parts of UNIX in those days (late '70s, early '80s) and just wanted to lock the world into their stuff. Along came the PC and left an opening for Microsoft and Compaq, and suddenly it was a generic world. They were forced to accomodate the PC, including UNIX (XENIX and others), TCP/IP, and eventually Windows. Customers didn't want to be locked into a one vendor solution that required them to use, for all intents and purposes, that one vendor's solutions for everything. Technology may have changed, but I can assure you, people haven't. IBM, by the way, seems to be doing just fine in an "Open Systems" world ($8 billion profit on $91 billion in sales, employing 329,000 people). They just don't "own" computing anymore. The same will happen to Microsoft, it's just a matter of time.
      • besides XML, Firefox is better at all

        I have yet to find something that Firefox doesn't do better than IE with the only exception being XML via javascript...

        also, there are extensions which fix that... it isn't easy nor simple to make extensions for IE, but firefox gives you all you need in order to do it...

        Firefox has the huge repertoire of extensions, too, so, if you want barebones, you have it... you want all kinds of features, just cruise the extensions, you'll find all sorts of features.

        also, firefox is compatible with the prime trio of OSes out there... and only the naive think that Linux isn't growing in power...