Thursday, July 31, 2008

In My Dreams, Google Takes Down Microsoft

Microsoftlogo I know, all the current speculation on the financial pages (that doesn’t have to do with speculators) is focused on Microsoft’s unrewarding and unsuccessful wooing of 2nd rate search engine Yahoo. And, of course, how many multiples of billions they are willing to spend. Even Wired can’t avoid the reference to gluttony and greed.

(Wired, July 29) On February 1, Microsoft set the porcine tone by presenting itself as the new champion of choice, explicitly declaring that the (Yahoo) deal represented the best chance at avoiding a Google monopoly.

The message itself was credible, but the source was not. After all, wasn't it just a few minutes ago that Microsoft was the unstoppable Evil Empire? The reality is that most people do indeed want to see a counter-balance to Google's power ... but they're not particularly thrilled to have that balance come from Microsoft.

Yahoo That’s an issue of little importance to me as a consumer. Someone will get stuck with Yahoo and thus 2nd place will join 2nd rate to keep the field honest enough for approval by our esteemed Justice Department.
That’s a pretty low threshold these days (during a moribund caretaker Attorney General), but it fascinates me that the Michael Mukasey anti-trust division considers 90% market penetration (Google plus Yahoo) a no-no.

But Microsoft’s 90% strangle-hold on operating systems is perfectly OK on the trust-o-meter, even though it gives Europe fits.

Microsoftpatchtuesday Which would be alright, if it were any damned good. But Microsoft’s operating system underpins a whole menagerie of functionalities that don’t function—at least not well. What can be said about a system so vulnerable that it writes pot-hole filling patches at the rate of 60 last year alone? Five a month? You can choose to call them ‘security updates’ or any user-friendly name you dream up, but they’re still holes in the road.

An expensive road, one might add, seeded as it is by proprietary software that effectively locks in users.

(Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2008) The software giant (Microsoft)Tuesday unveiled a Web site called the Mojave Experiment, where unsuspecting people test an upcoming operating system – only to learn that it’s really Windows Vista. Why the shenanigans? Because most people think Vista is a dud. In fact, the people Microsoft filmed on hidden cameras universally panned Vista, calling it “horrible” and saying they’ve heard nothing but bad things about it. When asked to grade Vista on a scale of one to 10, some people gave it a zero.

You can guess how this plays out: People test the new “Mojave” operating system and rave about it. Then they laugh and make self-deprecating jokes when they find out Mojave is really the much-maligned Vista

Will the real Microsoft please stand up?

Apple The reality of present-day computing doles out (essentially) three choices of operating system, the stuff under the hood that makes your computer compute. Microsoft, the bull in the china-shop and Apple, which has a near-cult following of adherents, but only 5% of the market. Linux runs third, although it runs best, with less than 3% desktop/laptop market share. Linux boasts an ‘open’ system, to which all are invited to write programs. (Nice touch, but most program-writers do it for money and the money is overwhelmingly at Microsoft.)

( The global embrace of the Internet and the capability to turn everything digital -- pictures, text and vital information -- has resulted in an ease of doing business and communicating. But it has also created a world that is capable of being exploited by the most malevolent of people.

"The bad guys are lurking in everybody's network. You're between six and 20 milliseconds from every creep and criminal on the Internet," Seitz said.

"When people ask me what the safest computer to buy is, I tell them one that you don't plug in. That's the current state of computer security for the average business and home user."

Anyone out there care to reinvent? Come up with an alternative?

Googleplexoffice Who wouldn’t welcome the appearance of a player who could produce a secure, accurate, problem-free and affordable alternate to Windows? Who wouldn’t love to have it buried somewhere in a cave or deep space, behind the kind of firewalls only the rich and powerful can afford? Who wouldn’t love to be able to access that security and power for a monthly fee—maybe five bucks?

Who wouldn’t love a new way to drive their drivers? Haven’t we been stuck for long enough behind the proprietary wheel of a car with the steering (when it steers) in the back seat?

So, here’s the plan—my plan—no one else has shown any interest in knocking down Microsoft. But they are so ripe for plucking. The ‘low fruit’ can’t get any more tempting than 60 security updates a year. Who possibly has the scope, knowledge and bankroll to take ‘em on?

Reports out of the Googleplex are purporting that Google's search database has hit a significant's finally tipped over the 1 trillion URL (web pages/files) mark.

Jesse Alpert and Nissan Hajaj, two Google software engineers from the web search infrastructure team, made the unexpected discovery. In an awe filled statement on the Google blog, the engineers shared:

"We've known it for a long time: the web is big...Our systems that process links on the web to find new content hit a milestone: 1,000,000,000,000 unique URLs on the web at once!"

Google doesn't index "every" page and file on the web (to maintain relevance and avoid duplicate content), so the actual web is significantly larger. However, Google's database does represent the biggest index of all the search engines. As the team point out: "...we're proud to have the most comprehensive index of any search engine, and our goal always has been to index all the world's data."

Linux Google, with their name recognition and reputation for coming up with useful things that are inspired by what people need, leaves Yahoo to the vagaries of life and buys Linux. They take some time, because they are long-term players and have some time, to develop super-slick software that supports business needs as no one has done before.

Google is terrific at doing what no one has done before and open source is the way to go, but open-source that pays competitive development fees (or parts of fees or increments of fees). A company that can figure out how to place an ad on a specific website out of millions of similar sites can handle that.

They’re also good at looking at innovation through fresh eyes. Why not a system of satellites out there somewhere that power the Googlesphere and can be updated minute by minute, without annoying you and me. I don’t even know how it could be put together, much less whether it’s a good idea.

But I know the market would be instantaneous, huge and grateful.

Sign me up, Scottie.


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