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Who Do You Pick in the Battle of Google vs. Microsoft?

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From Microsoft's Bing to Google Docs, the two companies are in an all-out tech battle.  So who do you think will emerge victorious in the end, and what are the key moves each company needs to make?

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  • I will pick Microsoft over Google till such time we have a Google Operating System on the machine. This I will predict for the next 5 years. Hundreds of millions of computers around the world today when they power up boot up Microsoft - almost 90 to 95% of all computers by number! Unless this changes Microsoft will continue to rule the applications markets also.

    I will switch over to Google as the winner in the longer term (next 5 to 10 years time) if they manage to make the Android Operating system the standard for small form factor devices. Five years from now, smart phones and little handheld tablets will totally replace laptops and netbooks just as laptops displaced a large part of desktops over the last 3 or 4 years.

    If Google does not manage to make the Android Operating system the standard for emerging small form factor devices then Microsoft will win by default since they are sure to come up with their own versions for these small devices also.

  • In the short-term, this is the wrong question - they'll work together increasingly often and well at a client-level (witness google's frame for IE6). It won't necessarily be done in a nicey-nice way between these two firms, but it will happen anyway because it is how Google will try to subvert the Microsoft install-base advantage. And it will happen because Google's hosted software can be adapted to interface with MSFT thick-client clients faster than MSFT can update and/or change those clients to create new incompatibilities or new features that aren't addressed (but which customers actually want).

    In the long run it isn't clear who "wins"... I suspect by the time that battle appears to be won, it won't seem like the main battle to address. Rewind to MSFT vs. IBM. Most people would say MSFT won... but IBM is the $100B company, and MSFT is struggling these days. So who won? IBM changed the terms of debate and focused on other markets that MSFT just doesn't play in.

    We may see the same sort of thing with Google and MSFT. Its hard to imagine MSFT winning on Google's home turf, but at the same time, MSFT has enough heft and revenue - and other markets (xbox for one), that likely 10 years from now MSFT will be a different company than it is today - perhaps different in ways we didn't anticipate.

  • I just heard someone recommend that I "Bing Map" a location to see something. First time I heard "Bing" used as a verb. Though I can't imagine us "Binging" for information anytime soon.

    Still, never underestimate Microsoft. They may fail in a technology attempt, but they will just keep coming back and coming back and back again until they get it right. Microsoft still has much deeper roots in enterprises as well.

    Still, I don't plan to be "Binging" anytime soon.

  • The corporate world has become more cost conscious and is unlikely to return to unquestioned spending even when things pick up again. This just helps Google in my opinion.

    Although Google wants to put out an OS of its own, there are plenty of good Linux distros that already do a great job. Ubuntu is probably what Google is aiming to be in this regard in terms of usability and perception. For Google, why fight it? There's not so much money in the OS, by Google's standards. And being open source, you're limited to how much you get to control the desktop and what goes on it, which I'm guessing is their real goal.

    Instead, Google is likely to commoditize a lot of enterprise software, by pushing it out to the cloud or into appliances (and this is true of many other SaaS offerings). Gmail, Docs, Web analytics, Enterprise search, are just examples of where they get in the door. I hear, for example, though I haven't validated the truth of this, that Saleforce.com has transitioned to Google Docs, at a huge cost saving.

    If I were Microsoft, I'd be less worried about Google with respect to the server and desktop cash-cow, and more worried about a growing, trained and certified workforce with Linux skills and preferences. If perception rises and a skills base reaches critical mass, Linux, on premises or in the cloud is likely to be the problem for the big M.

    Google embraces Linux enough to benefit. Microsoft - well you can Bing stuff, but then I'd much prefer to Google.

  • Because the question doesn't clearly specify "win what?", I will broaden the discussion and say that Google will clearly win because it will continue to successfully set the standard for next-generation web-based services (design, breadth, utilization, usefulness, etc.). In doing so, Google will eventually have more influence over our daily lives than maybe any other computing company.

    On the other hand, Microsoft has no track record of actually innovating in any substantial area of computing. They have mastered the art of copying others and using their market presence and platform(s) to create a big company and huge profits. But, the sands are shifting and the new knowledge worker has little need for the traditional desktop and server-focused software Microsoft has dominated for the past (nearly) 20 years.

    If you don't believe me on this, spend some time with a 17-year old and see how much interest they have in Microsoft products (vs. Google). Then ask yourself, which company will have the most influence in the next generation of computing?

  • Google hands down. Once the new G OS hits netbooks it's all ova...

    After watching Pirates of Silicon Valley the other night I can't wait until microsoft and apple become irrelevant.

    By the way, install Disqus....

  • Great answers. Here are a couple more angles.

    From a branding perspective Google is clearly the new world and MS is the old world (evil empire). But the technology market is so huge that both of them will have their place. And, to Scott's point, IBM is still the monster. Many considered them dead and gone in the late 80's.

    Google enjoys a monstrous valuation while MS has been languishing so from a market performance perspective, Google is winning on that front. But, how long can that sustain?

    From a culture perspective, MS is a predator and a cut throat competitor. Anti trust or not, they are a formidable competitor that can "hand to hand combat" with the best of them (including Larry). Google has a reputation of being much more intellectual and innovative (re Wave). Is Google bringing a knife to a gun fight?

    They are going to duke it out for a long time but I wouldn't count MS out.

  • I agree with Doug Mow, technology market is huge ,Google and Microsoft will have their place. Google is yet to catch up with enterprise market they are far behind in collaboration tools and Enterprise Applications , may be 10 years from now we can ask the same question which one to pick. Right now I will pick Microsoft.

  • I have to jump on the bandwagon with Prakash and Doug. Each is going to have their place. Google has a LOT of work to do before they can catch up in the enterprise application space. Couple that with the market reality of Microsoft being solidly entranced on the desktop and in the minds of millions of end users. Microsoft isn't going away anytime soon, but at least Google is actually giving them some competition to worry about.

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