Is Google Wave a threat to Microsoft or an example of Google becoming too Microsoft-like for its own good?
If and when you manage to wade through the "Google Wave is the next best thing to Google search" tweets and blog posts, a few interesting counterpoints rise to the surface. A few brave doubters are throwing some tentative questions out there: Is Google Wave bloatware? Is Wave actually useful? Or, is it, as CodingHorror/Stack Overflow's Jeff Atwood tweeted, "possibly the most Microsoft-y thing I've ever seen come out of Google. This is not intended as a compliment, by the way."
Google is pushing Wave -- which it rolled out to developers at the Google I/O conference on May 28 -- as a new Web 2.0 collaboration tool. From what little I've seen and read about it, it looks like a mashup of mail, Twitter, Friendfeed and Facebook. And to be part of the Wave, you need to write to yet another protocol, not protocols or standards that already exist.
- Google Wave: It's still a work in progress.
- Meet Google Wave: a new way to communicate and collaborate
But wait: Aren't these limitations for which Microsoft often is dinged? Reinventing -- or even (shudder) copying -- existing products and technologies? Requiring programmers to write to their protocols, even if the protocols are "open" and/or managed by an independent body or standards group? And is it a coincidence that Google's engineering chief Vic Gundotra is a former Softie?
Microsoft, ever careful not to publicly criticize its competitors, hasn't issued any proclamations about Wave and how it competes or doesn't with Outlook/Windows Live, etc. One Softie, Program Manager Dare Obasanjo, did note in a tweet yesterday that Google Wave bears a striking resemblance to two Microsoft projects, one scrapped (Hailstorm) and one active (Live Mesh). Hailstorm was axed for a variety of reasons, among them that it created too much vendor lock-in.
TechCrunch's Mike Arrington claimed Wave stole all the thunder from Microsoft's Bing rollout. His parting shot: "And while Wave certainly deserves every bit of positive attention it got today, the fact that it’s an open source project didn’t hurt, either. San Francisco engineers love open source like east coast liberals love Obama."
I'd suggest, instead, the Google Wave swoonfest might be a case of the Valley press/blogging core loving their Web 2.0 companies (like Google and Apple) too much to admit when those companies start sliding down the slippery slope plowed by ... Microsoft.