Friday Fights: Google vs. Microsoft

Today we're running the first in a continuing series of conversations about everybody's favorite tech brouhaha, Google vs. Microsoft. Every Friday, I'll pit my wits against veteran Microsoft journalist Mary Jo Foley as we discuss competition between the two companies. The friendly fights begin Friday mornings, when one of us posts a note, and then the other responds. You, the readers, are of course invited to leave your thoughts in the comments.

Today's topic: Where should vendors stick their services? You can see Mary Jo's original e-mail to me on Microsoft Watch. Below, my response.Vista Build 5506 screenshotsFrom: Bryant, Stephen
Sent: Friday, August 18, 2006 11:01:00 AM
To: Foley, Mary Jo
Subject: RE: Where Should Vendors Stick Their Web Services?

Hey Mary Jo,

I actually think Microsoft is being cautious by putting Windows Live Messenger into a Vista test build. Seems to me like a great way to test the waters. Given their storied legal history, they should expect their competitors to be paying close attention to these builds, and they should expect their competitors' lawyers to be watching closely. Maybe they're waiting for pushback?

Another possibility: Maybe the antitrust climate has changed? There have been tremendous developments in online services since Microsoft was first sued by the DOJ in 1998. Back then, Microsoft's embed strategy was to do an end run around Netscape, the only other viable browser competitor. But these days, Google, among other companies, is doing a great job of obviating the desktop in favor of a pure Internet strategy. Google is also doing its best to embed its services on PCs. Google Desktop, Google Pack, the partnership with Dell, and the partnership with Adobe all demonstrate that Google has plenty of competitive avenues.

Will Google sue to get Windows Live Messenger removed from Vista? It's certainly a possibility, given their previous complaints about MS embedding search into Internet Explorer. And given Google's failure to get anybody to use Google Talk, maybe they're willing to pick a fight over embedded instant messaging.

At the end of the day, I bet Microsoft removes the WLM embed under pressure from other companies. It's already the number one IM client anyway.