5. Bing Maps is stellar
Bing Maps might seem like a side effort, but it's not. The feature is easily one of the most viable services in Microsoft's wide range of offerings. One of the key elements of Bing Maps is its "aerial view" option. Users can find great views of neighborhoods, special areas and more. It's a great feature with a lot of draw that has caused more users to consider Bing as a viable search alternative to Google.
6. Focus on advertising
Microsoft realizes that a key to its success online lies in advertising. Over the past year or so, it has done a better job of offering companies a more viable advertising platform. And in the process, many companies are realizing that Microsoft is a real competitor to Google. That's a problem for the search giant.
7. Take on the halo effect
There's a key element in Microsoft's strategy that might go overlooked: The Xbox 360 will soon allow users to network on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Last.fm. Considering that the Xbox 360 is so tied to Microsoft and, in turn, Bing, that could draw some users away from Google as Microsoft integrates its online properties with the many products it already offers.
8. Go to the Web with software
Microsoft understands (perhaps better than most companies) that the future is in the cloud. Already, Microsoft has made inroads by preparing Office for the Internet. There's a good chance the company might bring Windows to the Web to compete with Google's Chrome OS. But until that happens, Microsoft seems to have a firm grip on its strategy of bringing software to the Internet. So far, at least, its decisions have made sense.
9. Microsoft sees the future
On those lines, it's important to remember that Microsoft finally "gets" the Web. The company that had at one time allowed Google to grow from under its nose is now doing a far better job of confronting the changing Internet landscape. Bing, just one of many compelling Microsoft Web services, has contributed to Microsoft's resurgence online. Going forward, things might only get better.
10. Microsoft has the cash
Microsoft has the money on hand to invest in just about anything it wants. It can also acquire any company that might solidify its position on the Internet. Most importantly, it can withstand any acquisition battle it wages with Google. And since Google can't out-muscle Microsoft on cash, the company will need to try to beat it on service. That might not be so easy any longer.
Simply put, I think we need to start watching out for Microsoft. It has a chance to take over the Internet. Perhaps not soon. But eventually.