If you listen to the folks at Google, a new "Microyahoosoft" could be bad for the Internet. According to Google's official blog,
Could the acquisition of Yahoo! allow Microsoft -- despite its legacy of serious legal and regulatory offenses -- to extend unfair practices from browsers and operating systems to the Internet? In addition, Microsoft plus Yahoo! equals an overwhelming share of instant messaging and web email accounts. And between them, the two companies operate the two most heavily trafficked portals on the Internet. Could a combination of the two take advantage of a PC software monopoly to unfairly limit the ability of consumers to freely access competitors' email, IM, and web-based services?
Given that the Internet originally supported university researchers as much as it supported the Department of Defense, and given that the Web now pervades so much of what we do in educational technology, maybe we should be a bit concerned. Not alarmed, mind you, as I think market forces and the challenges of managing a massive, disparate organization will allow this situation to sort itself out.
However, I spend quite a bit of time convincing people that Microsoft products aren't always the best, let alone the only, solutions to our computing needs. While Microsoft actually provides some very functional products, especially on the server side, the perception remains in many educational sectors that, unless you are using Microsoft technologies, then you aren't providing students with "real-world" experience.
Thus, the concern with the Microsoft-Yahoo deal is an increase in this perception. Are Microsoft Web technologies going to become the de facto standard? Will educational institutions favor Microsoft flavors of Web-based office suites? How about email applications? It seems that, for too many institutions, there is no consideration of non-Microsoft products (except, perhaps, in the server room or on student computers in the occasional dorm room); will this deal create a similar mindset on the Web side as institutions look increasingly at ways to leverage Internet technologies?
It remains to be seen what effects, if any, this deal might have for educators. However, I don't think that Google Apps, Zoho, MySQL, etc., are going anywhere, regardless of whether this deal comes to fruition.