Some of my closest friends and colleagues will find it ironic, yet again, that I am compelled to write a blog post defending Microsoft. After all, I have been engaged in a computing project aimed at removing all commercial software from a computer’s image. Alas, that is a different story, but I will happily report that there is definitely a bright light for technologists but not for the average Joe.
However, once again Microsoft is on the defensive about their products and policies. As an example, let’s talk about Bing. While Bing is an innovative “new” Internet search engine, analysts and writers are preoccupied by its position as the number two search engine in the market (including Yahoo). Everyone wants to know how Microsoft is going to catch Google and become the number one search engine. Why? Does anyone think that Microsoft was going to catch Google overnight? Does anyone believe that Internet search is capturing quality results across all the billions of pages on the Internet? What about Facebook?
Internet search is destined to become like the Walkman™; supplanted by something more innovative and useful. What! Are you kidding me? In the early days, Internet search was a battle of relevance and content. Google won the initial search wars by creating an interface that was clean, fast, and was able to crawl a significantly larger percentage of the Internet. Today, Internet search is filled with hundreds (millions) of pages ranked by relevance, key words, advertisements, and more. Other than me, who flips to page 8 of their search results? Furthermore, how many of us are surprised when a friend, stranger, etc. provides us with a new and exciting website on a topic you covet that you never new existed? Unfortunately, the current paradigm forces us to re-visit the same set of websites over-and-over again while using search as more of a research or curiosity tool.
In the end, Microsoft should be applauded for attempting to innovate in a space that has been virtually unchanged for years. Instead, Microsoft is bombarded with the same old questions about Google’s search dominance. Of course, I am not sure that the innovation will come from the likes of Microsoft or Google, but from the garages, dorm rooms, and coffee houses across the globe. Does anyone remember a few years ago when Palm was all the rage? How about MySpace? Or, the fears that Apple was dying? Do you remember your first slick Nokia Phone, where is it now?
On a side note, this is not a political blog, yet I feel compelled to comment about the Google vs. China Internet mess. There are two very different sides to this story; business and personal. On a business note, Google is an international business “baby” with limited experience and a certain naivety about how they deal with in-country and international laws. China is a sovereign nation that has the ability to pass and enforce their own laws regardless of their political system. If Google, or any corporation, does not like China’s laws, then leave. Perhaps if the West was not so obsessed with spreadsheets and bottom-line results, then China would not be the manufacturing powerhouse and money making machine that they are today. Microsoft is making the correct business decision by staying in China, offering an alternative, albeit censored, to Baidu.
On a personal note, I agree with Google’s moves as censorship has no place in today’s world. Someday, people across the globe will rise up to this evil practice of censuring information for the good of controlling people. However, doesn’t the mere presence of Internet companies such as Google or Microsoft offer people hope? It certainly is a complicated issue as my prior statement alone causes conflict and contradiction.