Dave posted an interesting opinion from his corner as a self-procalimed Microsoft fan, commenting on one front of Microsoft’s battles, that with Google. Recently we have had disputed news of Steve Ballmer vowing to ‘kill Google’, however the battle with Google is having interesting effects within Microsoft.
Living within a few miles of Microsoft’s UK HQ, I do know a few people who either work for Microsoft themselves, or work under contract. Apparently, as a result of the rising tensions between Microsoft and Google, all staff have been told to stop using Google for searching, and instead use MSN Search, the Microsoft equivalent. The order to swap over is being made primarily on the grounds of loyalty. However what is interesting is firstly that not everybody has swapped over (apparently the initial ditch Google memo was followed by a second more forceful version when people carried on), and secondly, that although they could, Microsoft are not using their web gateway to block Google – it is still available to all staff.
So why is it that if they want people to stop, Microsoft haven’t just blocked the site? Also, why is it that the employees aren’t swapping? To be blunt, it’s because they’ve found that Google gives better results. As an example, I’ve been shown a patent search that produces nothing in MSN Search, but on Google produces the full text of the patent. Whilst there are numerous examples of the inferior product winning a battle (think VHS/Betamax for a start) does Microsoft really have a hope from this far back, or should they as Dave suggests, stick to their core markets?
Update: In amongst the unfounded rumours about Google doing a deal with Sun for Google Office, I spotted this little confession from Scoble, that he still has Google Toolbar installed… Bear in mind that MSN have a toolbar as well, but even someone who is supposed to be evangelising Microsoft admits to using the competition! If you read the rest of the article, Scoble is clear that the IT market is changing again, and that Microsoft is trying to adapt. However, my impression has always been that Scoble is primarily a technology enthusiast, who will praise something and promote something good even if it isn’t by Microsoft, and equally will criticise his employer if they are doing something wrong. But the point remains that if they’re having trouble getting their own staff to switch, why should anybody else?