Google News: Why You're Getting So Much Google
Everybody should have a chance to spend a summer weekend here in
Boston when the Yankees are in town to play the Red Sox. There's
real electricity in the air all over town, and a fire in peoples'
eyes everywhere you go. Everybody here cares -- everybody, even
native Texans like me who like football better than baseball or
those who don't care about sports at all. It's an event,
a happening, a big deal.
That's because Yankees vs. Red Sox is a rivalry, and everybody
loves a rivalry. Everybody needs a rival, too. A great rivalry makes
make both sides better -- it forces them to concentrate, to innovate,
to keep pushing forward in order to gain some sort of advantage
in the competition. It encourages both sides to stay sharp and not
get lazy. For the most part and when not taken to ridiculous, soccer-hooligan-style
extremes, rivalries are healthy, necessary things not just in sports
but in life. Our economy, our capitalist system, to some extent
even our culture are all built on rivalries.
When a great rivalry dies, the competition it once enflamed just
isn't that much fun anymore. The Olympic Games, you have to
admit, are pretty lame now without the USSR around to play Ivan
Drago to our Rocky. And so it is in the software industry. Microsoft
has swept away all before it, conquering IBM, Apple, Sun and everybody
else who dared take on the Windows monolith. Pretty much every other
player in the industry sails on the good ship Microsoft now, making
money off of Redmond and playing along with the company's
plans. Granted, Microsoft is still doing a lot of good things for
users and partners. However, it, too, needs a rival -- somebody
to keep the company from becoming any more bloated than it already
is and provide some serious alternatives to the dominant and increasingly
expensive Windows and Office mainstays (more on that in a minute).
And that's why you're reading so much about Google,
Microsoft's would-be, should-be, will-be rival. The battle
for Internet search is well under way, and Google is winning big-time
in a contest into which Microsoft is pouring serious resources.
Now, with the anticipated battle for the desktop gearing up, any
shred of Google news gets OJ-style coverage from the tech press
(as readers of this newsletter can attest) and pretty good penetration
in the mainstream press as well. This week, Google announced that
it is releasing a simple
spreadsheet application, and the virtual ink began to flow.
Everybody got into the act. Headlines screamed that Google was gunning
for Microsoft. Then, the
"experts" had their say, revealing to us that Excel
might just survive the Google onslaught after all.
News got in on the act.
Well, duh. What Google is releasing isn't comparable to Excel and
isn't even supposed to be. (Take a look here.)
It's just that everybody who picks up a pen to write about technology
these days is so desperate for somebody to take a real swipe at
Microsoft -- for somebody to be the Red Sox to Redmond's Yankees
-- that we're all making Google out to have more than it has, for
now. Will Google be a real player on the desktop and provide a real
alternative to Office...or Windows? Probably, someday. But not right
now and not anytime soon. For now, it is users and partners who
are going to have to put whatever pressure they can on Microsoft
to stay focused. It took the Red Sox 86 years to finally overcome
the Yankees and win a championship. Google probably won't take that
long to become a serious contender for Microsoft's throne, but the
desktop rivalry isn't quite ready for prime time yet.
(And while we're at it, there was yet another Google-Dell
story today -- just because you couldn't get enough.)
Are you tired of reading about Google? Unload here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your Two Cents on the Price of Office and
Thank you, thank you, thank you. We are now getting more
responses to the newsletter than we've ever had before. Now
for the bad news: I don't have room to run every e-mail in
its entirety. So, here's a sampling of the responses that
I got last week when I asked about pricing for Office 2007 and Vista,
which I said seemed pretty expensive. Apparently, you agreed with
me -- and maybe open source really does have a following after all:
Curtis, a proponent of open source, says:
"I think $670 is a lot for Office, when there is free stuff
out there for the asking. Goodbye, Microsoft, is all I have to say."
Kevin's a happy open-source guy, too:
"Open source offerings are certainly becoming more appealing.
Within the last three months, I bought a 2GB U3 USB drive and now
have Thunderbird, Firefox, Skype, Trillian and OpenOffice running
on it, all for the $120 cost of the USB drive. I am VERY impressed
with this toolset...This from a Microsoft-centric developer. I have
an MCSD and make my living being a SQL Server and Microsoft BI expert.
Outside of my professional role, I can't imagine shelling out even
$200 to upgrade my OS, and my family would be happy not to have
dad upgrading/changing the computer for years."
Bruce has similar thoughts:
"Sometime back I even heard that 90 percent of the users use
10 percent of the features (in Office). I see a time coming when
those looking at the bottom line are going to be asking more questions
and looking at other options. It will soon reach a point when management
realizes it costs less to employ the IT staff to support open source
applications than does to buy the software. It has already started
with small to medium-size businesses that can't afford it or don't
want to put up with the hassles licensing causes. When that happens,
Microsoft will have done what its competition have not been able
to do in years."
John writes that the new stuff could be a tough sell:
"The vast majority of my clients are small businesses with
a shoestring budget for IT to begin with. I have a hard enough time
convincing them they need to upgrade that 6-year-old laptop running
XP to a newer model. The cost of the software is going to curtail
many expenditures and keep the old software in use."
Rob writes from all the way in South Africa that Microsoft isn't
doing right by its customers with Vista:
"Microsoft's licensing policy will create the problem. With
the Vista release date slipping, I doubt that [its] artificial update
release, brought out in order to appease those who purchased update
protection and who would have received nothing for their sizable
investment, fools anyone.
If MS had offered a free upgrade option for Vista, it would have
sat better; but as it is, my impression is that the purchasers of
upgrade protection are beginning to feel that this was simply a
money-grabbing ploy. Of course MS may still change their game, which
would be the clever thing to do, but then again [its] investors
are looking for bigger dividends. Talk about a rock and a hard place!"
column was originally published in our weekly
Redmond Partner Update newsletter. To subscribe,
And Bill says that trying to manage Vista upgrades just seems a
"I don't know about the cost, but there is no good reason
I see for upgrading, and six versions of an OS? Who are they kidding
Good question, Bill. And maybe there is a little open-source revolution
(or evolution) slowly brewing. Very slowly. As long as Microsoft
keeps jacking up the costs of its software...the door is open.
Thanks to everybody who wrote in, and thanks again for reading.
I'm always available at email@example.com.
Big Guns at the Security Showdown
It's on in the security space, with Microsoft
moving in on both the desktop side and in the e-mail
and anti-spyware space. It appears that Antigen, the anti-spyware
applications, won't be bundled into Vista or Exchange. Let's
see how they do competing without being part of the meal ticket.
If you've had some experience with Microsoft's security products,
give me your impressions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is Microsoft Business Intelligent?
We're going to find out soon enough. Redmond
is serious about this hot market...watch this space for
more perspectives on BI in the weeks to come.
Posted by Lee Pender on June 07, 2006 at 11:53 AM