Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Microsoft and WWGD - What Will Google Do? Time for Pre-Emptive Innovation.

Google is off on a high-quality staffing spree and even Microsoft is not immune to the pouching.  The folks who Google hired (including some Microsofties from a nearby building) are best-of-the-best scary smart.  What will they deliver? 

Is Microsoft fretting, waiting to go into reactive product-development mode?  Or can we out-Google Google (especially without the MSDN-Camp posting to their blogs entries regaling the world to "Just wait until Longhorn and Avalon and Whidbey - Ooo, it will be great then! [ed. 2006]")?  I feel like we're playing a chess game and only looking at the squares immediately around our opponents last move.  You'd figure with all those researchers we keep hiring (and express continued intent to hire more of) we'd be able to outsmart Google without even breaking a sweat.  Maybe those guys and gals aren't our salvation...

Let's say Google is giving everyone a big data pile in the sky, with all sorts of browser-apps and publicly defined innovative services on-top of that data pile.  They start with email and then move to more interesting data (pictures? calendar? contacts? notes?).  While they might augment your data view with targeted ads, they might also augment it with targeted relevant data in your pile as well, helping you connect the dots (or perhaps augment it with publicly shared data of those you've added to your Google-tribe).

What is one thing Microsoft could do?  How about providing a personal Microsoft-branded data-space: free.  And ad free.  Hook this up with a Passport if that makes you feel strategic but make that optional.  Make it a data space that people could for a lifetime throw their data into, perhaps even providing a sync up/down service for all their PCs / laptops / handhelds / smart-phones (leave out the stupid watches).  Make parts shareable and augmentable, but start with the data first, and let the applications follow.

Key to this: provide free, well documented HTTP-services on-top to appeal to the web-app aficionados.  Let Microsofties publish their own little PowerTools for people to use in their browser for organizing their MSN-Data.  And don't go tying this to Longhorn or silly 2005 / 2006 crap deliverables.  Make it work within IE 5.5.  Hell, make it work within FireFox.

Next, how-about for a small yearly fee we provide MSN-PC: take that cool VirtualPC product we bought and, using that nifty terminal-server application (or an ActiveX control), provide a VirtualPC that people could always have access to for simple work, where-ever they are.  It would be sandboxed and always up to date with the latest fixes.  Sure, I'll continue wanting my desktop but having a VirtualPC to rely on no matter where I am would serve as a focus point.  And MSN-PC would also be a nice way to manage my loveable Microsoft data space.

Anyway, just me typing some stuff as my Starbuck's latte cools down a bit.  We can out-Google Google, but it's not going to happen if we only swing the bat when we think it will rake in at least $1,000,000,000.  Let's start being happy with lots of little projects bringing in profits in the millions.


Anonymous said...

cool, you just reinvented Hailstorm. Don't say that H-word around MSN execs - they start twitching nervously and uncontrollably.

David said...

Great idea...! Except it depends on the fact that the people using such an Internet-Virtual-PC have to trust the organization behind the technology. Leave me out if that means leaving my data in Microsoft's sandbox.

Thanks, but no thanks. I'm sure there are a few others who share my opinion of Microsoft's trustworthiness. Sorry, BillG. You might have a few smart people remaining (or they may have all left by now) but they're not generally regarded as the most ethical bunch outside the campus.

Keep up the thinking. It's good to know somebody with a brain is still hanging out somewhere along 156th...

Who da'Punk said...

"Don't say that H-word around MSN execs - they start twitching nervously and uncontrollably."

Ooo, I didn't mean to go there (although twitching and eye-bugging would be fun to watch). Here's the thing - our next exciting stategic moves should be small and simple, yet open to encourage creative folks to pile on.

Something like Hailstorm is an aircraft carrier bearing down on the world (or, a dog and poney show to which the world goes, "eh."). To heck with this "bet the company" every group with their finger in this new pie mega-stategic technology. Too many fingers and not enough pie left afterwards.

As for trusting data stored inside of Microsoft servers - folks are just going to have to make that decision and be wise.

Anonymous said...

"What is one thing Microsoft could do? How about providing a personal Microsoft-branded data-space: free. And ad free. " - excellent idea and use SharePoint as the infrastructure.. I think MSFT has a great product in SharePoint as an 'info-hub' and they should leverage it to the max! Your idea is one I hope the decision makers take serious!

Anonymous said...

Word on the street is that Microsoft is basically hiring all the Google leftover these days. Everyday google interviews like 3-6 MSFTers. And let's just say many of them are GOOG No Hires.

Anonymous said...

Hailstorm, are they twitching uncontrollably ? What term makes google execs twitch ?