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Google vs. Microsoft vs. Yahoo!

Once upon a time, companies developed a core competency, such as making widgets, and stuck with it for decades. In today’s more competitive world, however, everybody is driven to expand and diversify. Ultimately, everybody encroaches on everybody else’s space. Cable companies start offering phone service. Telcos offer video. Google, the premier Internet search company, is taking on Microsoft (News - Alert) and its Office Suite by deploying Google Apps, a roughly equivalent (read: fewer features) assemblage of functionality that is delivered as Software as a Service (SaaS (News - Alert)), although Google has announced that a version will be made available that runs as a standalone, just like Office. Both of those will compete with the new beta of 3.0, the open source office suite originated by Sun Microsystems (News - Alert) (and which now has a native Aqua user interface for Mac users).

Microsoft, in turn, imitated the imitators with Microsoft Online Services, which followed on the heels of Steve Ballmer (News - Alert)’s prognostication that Microsoft would one day release an online version of every one of its applications. Microsoft Online Services takes at least four forms: 1) Office Live Meeting 2007, the latest version of its Internet multimedia conferencing program; 2) Exchange Hosted Services, for email management; 3) Microsoft Exchange Online, a more sophisticated email management system; and 4) Office Live Small Business, a complete set of services designed for small businesses, including free web hosting, a custom domain name, email accounts, e-commerce, and the ability to store and share documents. You can also purchase additional services. Store Manager enables you to sell products directly from your website as well as through eBay (News - Alert). There’s a new email marketing capability so you can create newsletter campaigns to connect with your customers. Microsoft also offers a free tool, adManager, that enables you to buy, manage, and optimize keyword purchases on Ask Sponsored Listings network, and MSN and Live Search. It looks like Office Live Small Business will make more inroads into the CRM area to compete with SAP (News - Alert) and NetSuite.

Then there’s Microsoft Office Live Workspace, where you can store and share Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files (just like you can in Microsoft Live Small Business). But unlike Google (News - Alert), Microsoft isn’t giving away Office functionality – you can open from and save documents to the Office Live web server and share files there, but the edits are done using your existing Microsoft Office applications sitting on your hard drive. Unlike Google, you can’t work on your documents purely in a browser, sans Microsoft Office. Think of it more as a remote disk drive that will survive a local disaster and can be shared with colleagues.

If Google can encroach on Microsoft’s Office applications space with impunity, the same can’t be said about Microsoft’s attempts to unseat Google’s supremacy in Internet search, namely, its failed attempt to acquire Yahoo. If Google went after Yahoo, the word “antitrust” would be bandied about. But even if Microsoft had managed to acquire Yahoo, it would still need some pretty extraordinary search intelligence to counter Google’s.

Perhaps sometimes it pays to stay in your own backyard.


In the article, “IP Communications Security” in our May issue, the first sentence of the last paragraph on page 67 says that VirnetX, “works with Cullen Jennings (News - Alert) and security working groups at the IETF.” That should read, “We are aware of the work being done by Cullen Jennings and the security working groups at the IETF.”

We apologize for any confusion this may have caused. IT

Richard Grigonis is Executive Editor of TMC (News - Alert)’s IP Communications Group.

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