Google in Microsoft's territory
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Google in Microsoft's territory

The giants of New Economy are at war and so far there are no clear winners, writes Punnet Mehrotra.

india Updated: Aug 30, 2006 22:23 IST

This is a four-year old war. No clear winners. One salvo from the first camp follows retaliation from another, and another bigger missile fired from yet another camp. The giants of the New Economy are at war. The stakes are high and so far there no clear winners in this one. Welcome to the battleground-- Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are at war.

Intruding into Microsoft Territory

Around four months back when Google launched Google spreadsheets, I had written, 'Invasion into the heart of Microsoft' and if audacity had an award, the clear winner would be Google. Invasion right into the heart of the biggest organization on earth heads on. No guerrilla tactics, no behind the back strategies or even remote diplomacy. Pure war, heads on.

The war of desktop supremacy has been on for three years now. But the attacks got direct recently when Google acquired Writely, a direct competitor of MS Word. It's taking the war further by the overnight launch of a test version of Google Spreadsheet.

Penetrating yet deeper in Microsoft's territory

The above could have been forgiven as whims of a nouveau riche enterprise wishing to flaunt newly acquired wealth and what better way to than attack right in the Emperor's kingdom. But Google definitely doesn't fit in that category. It is a leader in the thought economy and it is just penetrated yet deeper in the Microsoft domain.

Google has recently launched Google Apps for Your Domain. This suite is a set of hosted applications for enterprises that wish to provide high-quality communications tools which Google says, 'can share ideas and get things done more effectively' to their users without the hassle of installing and maintaining software or hardware.

In addition to customizing the user interface with their own branding and colour scheme, organizations can tailor the service to their needs by mixing and matching the e-mail, messaging, calendaring and other tools. You can design and publish your organization's website, too. Google hosts them all. So there is no need for you to install hardware or software for you to maintain.

If Google offering such nice applications wasn't enough for Microsoft, Google has gone further and given the most fatal blow. The applications on Google Apps for Your Domain and the online Microsoft Word clone Writely and the Microsoft Excel clone Google Spreadsheet are all available for FREE!

The next generation applications

As desktop applications get ready to transform into their second generation, applications like Writely and Google Spreadsheets gain importance. The future is server-based applications. No longer would we need to have programs loaded on our systems. Just go to www, do your work and save it or share it.

Google wants to capture the major portion of the visitor online experience. First it was "search" then "email" and now "office". Writely, a direct rival of MS Word was acquired by Google two months ago and now Google Spreadsheets.

The importance of being Google

When a university professor's son creates the most wonderful application in the world and goes to become a rival to the biggest company under the sun, it speaks volumes of the kind of brains at work, which we imply as the 'thought network'.

The Stanford University Network and the Google connection are well known. Most things Google has produced have been absolutely wonderful. In fact each Google application is absolutely superb. Right from design to development to usability, Google applications are absolute stunners.

This simply isn't possible without the right brains at work. Why haven't the other companies, some bigger giants than Google managed to get even half the kudos? The answer is the thought network Google has. And this is absolutely awesome. One very good example is Google scholar. I covered it a few years ago when it was launched. Google has written beautifully about the academia in the true guru-dasksina tradition (paying back your mentors and teachers).

They still have it on their site today. Google Scholar says, "We recognize the debt we owe to all those in academia whose work has made Google itself a reality and we hope to make Google Scholar as useful to this community as possible. We believe everyone should have a chance to stand on the shoulders of giants."

What's next?

Google and Microsoft have been in news for random acquisitions in the last few months. What's happening with Yahoo? Is Microsoft planning to buy Yahoo or is there something cooking between Yahoo and Google? Will keep you posted.

Puneet Mehrotra is a web strategist atwww.cyberzest.comand editswww.thebusinessedition.comyou can email him

First Published: Aug 30, 2006 09:01 IST