By BoLOBOOLNE payday loans

Google vs. Microsoft: MS Retreats to Hardware

A couple of recent product announcements out of Redmond have me thinking about the current big struggle in the software industry: GOOG vs MSFT.

Frankly, GOOG is eating MSFT’s lunch on the consumer software front.  But MSFT still dominates in the enterprise, and will for a long time.  GOOG’s model is hosted solutions, which enterprises are really hesitant to deploy.  And with good reason — if you were a CIO would you trust all of your company’s IP to somebody else?  Regardless of what promises they make, I wouldn’t.  So Microsoft continues to turn into IBM.

The two announcements I’m thinking about are Zune and Office Roundtable.  Strategically, Zune is an obvious one: they’re taking on Apple in the music space head on.  And they’re doing it MSFT-style: more features.  I think they’re really cool features and assuming they can make them work in a friendly manner (tbd), will make for a fantastic product.  But it’s worth noting that they’re building it entirely themselves, turning their back on PlaysForSure and their ecosystem of hardware -manufacturing minions.  (Perfect timing for RNWK to release an mp3-player firmware platform — oh wait, we did — but that’s another story.)  So MSFT wants to challenge Apple on their own turf.  Good luck I wish you well you’re not paying your industrial designers enough.

IMHO Microsoft Office Roundtable is exactly the kind of product MSFT should be building right now.  It’s an MS-branded hardware product built for the enterprise.  This is a fertile space that MSFT could completely dominate.  Phones, teleconferencing gear, photocopiers, faxes, whiteboards, etc.  By being the shepherd for all hardware device drivers over the decades, they’ve developed a unique skill-set of interfacing gadgets to PCs.  But more important, selling hardware is a great hedge against GOOG eating into their software business.  Building enterprise office hardware will further cement their hold on the enterprise software market, ensuring that businesses continue to need Windows on all their employees’ desktops.  Even if they’re primarily running Google software!

I’m not sure if this is a conscious choice for MSFT yet or not.  But If I were Ballmer right now I would be thinking hard about how to leverage my device driver and hardware experience into protecting some core aspects of the business.  Not that they should give up on fighting GOOG head on.  I honestly think Live search has a lot going for it beyond Google — for one thing it updates its index really fast, whereas changes on the web take weeks or months to show up in Google.  But that’s just one place where MSFT has caught up because they put a lot of effort and some fantastic people on it.  While GOOG continues to build better more integrated consumer software applications at an impressive rate.

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