Has Microsoft Given Up on Internet Domination?

by Preston Gralla

While Google and Yahoo over the last year have been busy introducing countless innovative Internet services, including RSS readers, podcast sites, blogging services, putting massive libraries online, and even a bid to provide free WiFi service in San Francisco, Microsoft has been uncharacteristically quiet.

Can you name a single, innovative, forward-thinking Internet service Microsoft has introduced in that time? I can't.

What's its biggest online news of late? It's redoing Hotmail so that it looks more like Outlook. Mercy -- stop the presses!

Why has Microsoft fallen so far behind? It's not just that the company is distracted by trying to get Vista out the door. I think that it's recognized that it's lost the Internet war, and so it's not even trying any more.

I don't think that's a bad thing. Better the company focus on its core mission --- to provide the best operating system and applications possible --- than to spend resources on something that, frankly, Google does a whole lot better than Microsoft will ever do.

So I for one am glad that Microsoft has apparently ceded the Internet to its competitors. That means it can focus better on Vista and the upcoming new version of Office.

Do you think Microsoft has given up on providing innovative Internet services? Let me know


2005-10-11 08:12:38
this example is neither innovative nor recent...
...but Microsoft has a search site which aims to compete with Google (even has its own desktop search bar): http://search.msn.com . Do I use it? No. Is it as good or extensive as Google's? Probably not. Is it another case of playing catch-up ala IE with the old Netscape? Yep. Although Microsoft isn't innovating, it isn't sitting still either.
2005-10-11 09:27:38
Boy, I wish I weren't a pessimist
To be honest, I'm more inclined to think that Microsoft is indeed giving ground on Internet standards and the standards compatibility of Internet Explorer because the latest round of MS back end software, specifically that aimed at small business, is aimed not at using IE for a client, but at using Office 12 and the media tools in Vista itself as fat client software. It's aimed at using the 'network' instead of the 'Internet'. They no longer have to worry about the limitations of HTML/XML/etc... They'll share static document formats in open formats all day long to keep the open standards crowd happy. But the dynamic delivery of live, centralized data won't be based around Web Servers/Web Browsers at all - it'll be a direct two-way interaction between many small pieces of MS-written commercial software. The dissemination of data is what makes Web2.0 so interesting, well, that's exactly where MS is headed. They just sidestep most of the open standards issue by removing the web browser form the entire equation. It's a strong strategy, and I can't fault them for it. But it's scary.
2005-10-11 09:39:17
Dream On
When Microsoft embraces MPEG in favor of its own proprietary WMA, and it embraces Java in favor of its own proprietary .Net, and php in favor of asp, Apache over IIS, the w3c over its own HTML tags, Postfix or Cyrus over MS-Exchange, etc., ad infinitum, then I will be inclined to believe Microsoft has given up the internet war.

Jeff Mincey

2005-10-11 10:05:03
Dream On
So basically Microsoft has to become another flavor of Linux for you to believe they've given up the "Internet War."

Why the hell would they do that, exactly? Can't really see it happening, given that they've been moderatly successful doing what they do already...

2005-10-11 10:13:42
Dream On
Excuse me, but no. Java is a platform-independent language and interpreter that runs on Windows itself -- except of course Sun had to fight Microsoft in court over it. Java runs on OS X (the UNIX-based Macintosh OS) and on virtually every UNIX variant. It even runs on VMS.

Apache runs on Windows as well as on many other OS's -- not just Linux. And the same goes for php and all the other technologies I have named.

Do you mean to suggest that merely on account of not using its own Windows-only proprietary technologies that Microsoft becomes another Linux?

The internet is predicated on the assumption of platform independence. We should be able to use the operating system and browser which WE prefer -- all with the full expectation that web sites we access will be fully operable to us. But Microsoft has long adopted a policy of proprietary technology in an effort to lock us into Windows and Internet Explorer. This defeats consumer choice and undermines the independent spirit of the internet. And it need not be so, if only Microsoft were content to let its products compete up or down on their merits -- sans lock-in.

Jeff Mincey

2005-10-11 11:54:27
What an odd post
The idea that MS has not been participating in the Web over the last year -- and has given up the ghost -- boggles the mind.

MS has done more than anyone in establishing and building Web Services standards. Virtual Earth, start.com, ASP.Net 2.0, MSN Spaces (18 million users, btw), and as you mention, rewrites of Hotmail and MSN Search. They are putting RSS at the heart of Vista, and probably IE7.

And, MS employees are blogging in every direction, in stark contrast to their competitors.

Sorry if I sound like a partisan here, I really have no particular allegiances. Except, perhaps, reality. And of course MS are doing these things for business reasons, before anyone objects...

Meant with love... :)

2005-10-11 20:16:55
Imitation Takes Time To Catch Up
Microsoft hasn't given up. It's just that imitation of really innovative ideas takes time, patience and hard work. Please have a little compassion. Microsoft will catch up.
2005-10-12 19:53:48
Can You Spell Stealthy Determination?
Furthermore, anybody that claims Microsoft does not innovate is clearly biased or misinformed.

Does A(synchronous) JA(vascript) X(ml) ring a bell? AJAX would not be prevalent if Microsoft had not innovated by developing the XmlHttp Object that showed the LAMP camp which direction web development must be headed.

Furthermore, it is also interesting to note the FireFraud constituents bray about 'standards' when in fact they adopted Microsoft's innerHTML which is not a W3C DOM standard.

Even the FireFraudsters understand innovation when it means getting the job done at a fraction of the time and cost of trying to use standards which are rarely timely and often simply not up to snuff for the rigorous real world.

I don't believe for a moment that Microsoft has given up or lost anything. They are clearly stealthy and determined but I can't explain how I really know this to be a fact or I'd have to kill ya'