10 Web Companies That Microsoft Should Fear Most

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10 Web Companies That Microsoft Should Fear Most

by Don Reisinger

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Google is the most obvious choice for a company that Microsoft needs to fear. The search giant grew from a startup to become one of the most powerful companies in the tech industry. It's now competing with Microsoft in search, advertising and soon operating systems. In other words, Microsoft better be wary of Google.

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Although Microsoft recently finalized its search pact with Yahoo, it can't trust the online firm. We can't forget that Yahoo agreed to the deal only after receiving some great terms from Microsoft. If Microsoft believes that Yahoo, which is a direct competitor to several Microsoft products, is truly a partner, it will realize quickly just how wrong it is.

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Facebook might not immediately come to mind when one thinks of Microsoft competitors, but the social network is undoubtedly a company to be feared. Recent Compete.com figures say Facebook is now the second most popular Website in the United States, just behind Google. And judging by Facebooks user engagement and the site's immense growth, it might only be a matter of time before the social network capitalizes on its huge user base to take on other Web firms.

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Although Google owns YouTube, the video site is one that Microsoft needs to keep an eye on. YouTube isn't just a place where folks can share and upload videos. It's also a traffic powerhouse for Google as the company continues to generate advertising revenue from all its many services. Microsoft needs to worry about YouTube.

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Twitter is another company that might not seem like an obvious Microsoft competitor, but it could cause trouble for the software giant. In recent months, Twitter has been entering into strategic partnerships with Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. For now, the company says it's doing so to help its own operation. But wherever Google is, Microsoft needs to be concerned. It's as simple as that.

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The Linux Community

OK, so the Linux community might not be a single company, but it belongs in this list. In recent months, several Linux vendors have said they plan to double-down on the cloud. That's a troublesome issue for Microsoft. With Google already dominating the Web, the last thing it needs is the open-source community delivering more cloud-based services via Linux. Granted, Windows is far more recognized, but Linux users are fiercely loyal. And the more companies there are competing in that space, the harder it will be for Microsoft to dominate.

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Last week, Hewlett-Packard announced that it will be deploying cloud services targeted at the enterprise to compete with similar services from IBM and Dell. Part of that plan could include helping companies build cloud networks. Microsoft has a vested interest in playing a part in that space. The sooner HP works on capitalizing Web-based initiatives, the harder it will be for Microsoft to break into the market.

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Mozilla has been a thorn in Microsoft's proverbial side for a long time. The company's Firefox browser continues to gain market share as Microsoft's Internet Explorer declines. Internet Explorer is a key product for Microsoft as it attempts to control the Web. The more people using Internet Explorer, the greater the chances of Bing gaining popularity. That could potentially translate to increased advertising revenue. We can't downplay Mozilla's importance to Microsoft's Web services.

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Amazon might just be an online retailer to some, but the company is slowly creeping its way into the hardware business. And by competing with Apple, it has put itself on Microsoft's map as a potential ally in its fight against the hardware maker. Perhaps that's why the two companies recently signed a patent-licensing deal. By getting closer to Amazon, Microsoft might be able to help several of its businesses, including Bing.

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Few people consider MapQuest in a discussion of map services on the Web. But MapQuest's site is the 21st most-popular site in the U.S., according to Compete. That matters to Microsoft. One of the key features that differentiates Microsoft's Web services is Bing Maps. It's widely regarded as a superior alternative to Google Maps. But if MapQuest can continue its success and offer a map service that bests the competition, Microsoft will lose that advantage. That won't be good for business.

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