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Use any search engine you like to query Google, Microsoft, Battle, and you'll get tons of hits from major news publications all the way down to the littlest blogs. A superficial look at both companies reveals no reasons for the two companies to clash, but look a little deeper and you'll see that nothing less than the future of computing is at stake. For the appropriate context for this battle we turn to the Star Wars movies. Not the lame add-on movies, but rather just the original three. I know what you are thinking, and yes, the popular press has begun to copy Internet sites in calling Microsoft the Empire (though their editors don't seem to allow for the word "evil" just yet)- but the truth is that in this battle, both companies are the Empire. For Google, its Death Star is its Internet Search offering. Most reports suggest that Google handles two-thirds of all Internet searches, and Google has leveraged that power into a multi-billion dollar revenue stream. Microsoft's Death Star is its iron grip on desktop operating systems. Most reports claim somewhere in the neighborhood of a 90% market share. Likewise, Microsoft's Death Star has been leveraged to provide its own multi-billion dollar revenue stream.
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Countdown to Battle
The seeds for battle between the empires actually began before Google even thought about creating a Death Star. In the mid-1990s, a rebel alliance called Netscape launched what appeared to be potentially the most important computer innovation since the debut of the graphical interface. The rebels' product allowed people from all over the world to connect to information and data regardless of where they were located, and regardless of what computer operating system they ran. When it became clear that this band of rebels and their "Internet" were not a passing fad, Bill Gates disbanded the Imperial Senate and maneuvered the Death Star to Netscape's home planet. Microsoft charged up its Death Star and fired by including a free Internet browser inside its operating system, thereby ensuring that it would be included on virtually every personal computer sold. The Netscape home world collapsed quickly, and fear kept the regional systems in line.
But, the more Microsoft tightened its grip, the more star systems slipped through its fingers. As the Internet grew and bandwidth got faster and cheaper, the Internet emerged not only as a way to read jokes and download pictures, but also as a legitimate way to do business. Soon, the problem was not what the Internet could do, but what rather finding what you needed. And so, arrives Google. The emperor did not feel the disturbance in the force quickly enough and by the time Microsoft reacted, Google had constructed its own Death Star.
Like many conflicts, no one is really sure exactly how this one got started. Many would point to the release of Internet Explorer 7. When first released, the free browser with dominating market share had the now ubiquitous search box directly embedded in the browser interface, and that search box came set to search Microsoft's search engine. This set off alarm bells at Google like Russia putting missiles in Cuba set off alarm bells in America. So, the cold war began.
While originally confined to the field of search engines, today the battle rages on many fronts. Both companies compete on search with Microsoft reportedly spending millions or even billions of dollars to out maneuver Google in the search result game. Meanwhile, Google now offers free applications that perform the same functions as Microsoft's cash cow MS Office. Both companies offer free email, and free picture utilities with free storage for those photos to be shared with others. Both companies are competing fiercely in the business space as well. Google Sites provides many of the functions of Microsoft Sharepoint. Microsoft responded to the launch of Google Sites by announcing that it would launch a hosted version of Sharepoint. Microsoft's hard push into the online application and services world has now become a serious company focus largely branded through Microsoft's Live platform.
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Clash of the Titans
Today, it seems that every announcement from either Google or Microsoft is quickly followed by a counter announcement from the other. Microsoft touts the increasing value of its browser, operating system, Internet offerings, combination for the enterprise, as well as the home user. Google promotes its increasing portfolio of services and products, noting how their offerings are available to a user anywhere he goes- and perfect for users with multiple locations and computers, because you don't have to license everything again and again on a per computer basis.
So, how does it end? We don't know for sure, but the strategic plans of each company have begun to emerge. Expect the unexpected in this battle royal.
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Did I say expect the unexpected? I did.
As I was preparing this article for publication, Google announced that it was releasing its own browser called Chrome. See how Chrome fits into the Microsoft versus Google battle.
I love it when a plan comes together.
The Ongoing War between Microsoft and Google
- Microsoft versus Google - The Battle Lines Are Ever Expanding
- Google versus Microsoft - Google's Strategic Battle Plan - Part 1
- Microsoft Versus Google - Microsoft's Strategic Battle Plan
- Google versus Microsoft - Google's Strategic Battle Plan - Part 2
- Microsoft Versus Google - The Battle Lines Are SO Expanding
- Microsoft Versus Google - Microsoft Battle Plan - Part 2