Channel Marker

Apr 27 2008   5:56PM GMT

Microsoft’s Google goggles

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

It’s Sunday and it appears that Yahoo has let Microsoft’s “take our offer or else” ultimatum pass without action.

By now everyone knows that those at the top of Microsoft are obsessed with Google. What’s unclear is if that power structure will be able to do to that market dominator what a Microsoft was able to do years ago to previous rivals: Companies like Lotus, Novell, and Netscape.

Maybe not. With all respect to Steve Ballmer, Ray Ozzie, et al., Microsoft is exhibiting some of the same behaviors that led to the demise of its previous rivals. Namely, they appear obsessed with a competitor to such an extent that they may be missing other opportunities.

Novell owned the file-and-print then network operating system business. It built the best partner channel in technology. But Ray Noorda became obsessed with Bill Gates et al. So much so that Novell management took its eye of the prize. One could argue the same affliction affected Lotus’ Jim Manzi. Excel chipped away at 1-2-3 dominance As for Netscape, well; Microsoft spent billions building its own browser then gave it away. Bye bye Netscape.

Now Microsoft is focused on Google’s Internet search and ad business, but after many years and multiple billions it has thus far been unable to make itself credible. The Yahoo bid convinces some that it’s given up on fighting Google with its own technology and resources.

You have to wonder if the Google obsession has kept Microsoft from executing well both on its cash cows (Vista, Office 2007 etc.) and in new arenas beyond Web search etc.

So an interesting question is whether Steve Ballmer is the new Ray Noorda?

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