02 May 2006

Microsoft vs Google

Google (and Yahoo) are up in arms about the new IE7 release which provides an integrated search bar, and, you guessed it, uses MSN. While it is possible to change it quite easily even, all parties know that people don't. I never understood why people accepted the home page of every browser instead of selecting a blank page - at the very least that would have saved bandwidth especially on the dial-up connections at the time. The point is, the average user is just lazy. Only techies choose Preferences or Options the first time they run a program to see what they can change (and this also gives a good overview to what the application can do). To everyone else, they never want to go there!

Google has a point of course - it's this type of approach that killed Netscape, and similar to Real Player arguments which ended up with a large settlement. But it's a little bit rich of Google as they have the same advantages out-of-the-box with Firefox and with Safari, though of course on a much smaller marketshare.

But whether Google is right or Microsoft is right, it highlights once again the box that Microsoft is locked in. This is a relatively trivial (though useful) feature, and yet it causes such contention. It may well end up in court. Whether Microsoft can actually innovate may be debatable (I think there's enough evidence they're struggling with that aspect of their business), but even when they do, passions are aroused (and lawyers called) at just about any new feature that Redmond bundles. Any feature that a user may need is likely to a) send some service revenue to Microsoft that might have gone somewhere else before and/or b) deprive some software company of revenue for a feature that was previously sold. That bodes very badly for the release of Vista which might just signal the start of a whole new raft of lawsuits from companies and regulators all with MS as the defendant. I suspect Vista is already compromised from day one by such (internal) fears, but I think this sort of story will become even more common in the next 12-18 months.

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