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Bill Gates says: "Today's Search is Nothing"

says their agenda is to make what we have today look like a joke



7:51 am on Jan 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Very nice article,

After saying the MS was in the search business before Google, Gates says Microsoft has a, "commitment to build unique search technology across the board," and points to the work being done at Microsoft Research (see: Microsoft Research Gets Serious About Search and a compilation of several MS Research search-related papers and patents I compiled in July.)

Gates goes on to say, "...our research agenda will allow us to take today's search from ourselves and Google and make what we have today look like a joke." Later in the interview he talks about search being a "significant" business (aka "big revenue") for MS and again says that, "today's search is nothing."


4:56 am on Jan 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

"If a company can control that standard it translates into big $."

Microsoft wants to tranform all open standards to proprietary standards. But this isn't going over very well. HTML and HTTP last time I checked are still open. Any webbased application uses those standards, so I'm not sure I agree completely that this is a platform war.

Maybe it's correct to say that it's a war in terms of MS continuously trying to change open standards to closed ones, that's key to their strategy, that fact is very well documented. That's the cause of their relative antipathy to web based open standards. They don't like them, but they have to deal with them. Luckily for us IE is not on track to get 99% market dominance anymore or you could have expected to see more and more proprietary web standards introduced, things like active x and so on, except taken to a higher level.

The real war is if MS can manage to force people to remain tied to an individual platform, windows, or not. My best guess is they are beginning to lose this effort. Of course, if Bill would retire, and if MS could start acting like a normal company, working in healthy, competitive ways, things would settle down after a while. But Bill needs to go for that to happen, he's like a little kid who never learned to share with his friends, and who liked watching bugs fight to the death in glass jars, nothing positive will ever come from MS as long as he's in charge.

All standards could easily be open, but that would cut severely into the various MS cashcows like Office.


6:58 am on Jan 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

On M$. Somewhere, I guess Fast Company or MIT magazine - they wrote that M$ has to create a 5th largest technology company every year to produce decent growth. Alternatively, they need to look at some 3,500 new companies/business ideas a year.

That is just (a) impossible and (b) impractical. So M$ is doing what a large company has to do - waits untill an industry matures into $ Billions, and then moves in. When you base your competition strategy on Windows platform and throw in a few proprietary technologies, that is tough to compete against.

All this talk about "platform wars", platform being obsolete, and Google moving into OS is just plain rubbish. Look at phone and cable - the biggest players always have been the ones controlling the "platform" - networks and lines.

Instead of dreaming about competing with M$ Google needs to think of aquiring some real business with real business model ASAP, while stock valuations are high. Biggest mistake Yahoo! made before dotcom crash - they didn't buy Time Warner.


8:00 am on Jan 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

aleksl, that's one of the more astute postings I've read here in a while.


8:48 am on Jan 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Platforms are at the heart of this war ... Everything is built on some type of standard. If a company can control that standard it translates into big $.

Exactly what IBM tried to do with Micro-Channel. The buying public revolted away from such naked attempts at control (even tho' M-C was technically a superior product) and IBM suffered the largest crash in economic history, and is now a shadow if it`s former self.

MS teeters on the edge of this precipice continually. If governments, business and the public learn to trust an alternative then M$ will crash and burn. I suspect that that thought keeps Bill et al awake at nights.


8:52 am on Jan 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

"At least we now know that he obviously uses his own search engine"
that was very good Thailand! :)


11:31 am on Jan 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

So what will this amazing new search give me that I cannot get now?

I can already search into other people's machines with peer to peer, and google finds just about anything which is public information on the net.


3:12 pm on Jan 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

> Steve Wozniak, Jobs or Bill Gates as far as visions go.

Woz was a great engineer, but had little long term vision.
Jobs was a great salesman and knows a good idea when it comes along. Moderate visionary.
Gates hasn't had an orginal idea his entire business career. (quick, name one leading technology that MS invented from scratch? hint: can't be done) (that isn't too say he is not the most brillant business man in modern history)
Page and Brin have more vision in their little pinkies than Woz/Jobs/Gates combined. This foo about indexing the sum total of human knowledge isn't foo - they really believe it. Money is just a tool - knowledge is real power. Those that index the knowledge are the all powerful of the future.

> sorry folks. You're obselete. The platform is dead.

deja vu, Steve Jobs said near the same in 1984. Here we are 20 years later and still using propietary platforms. We'll be here in another 20 years and people will still be saying this "web as platform" horse manure.

As far as building a new "operating system" /platform: can it even be done without violating the god knows how many patents already awarded to Microsoft and thousands of other companies?

Ever hear of Open Source software?


9:57 pm on Jan 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Wow, Brett really loves Google, amazing. That's nice, I guess it's good to be a fan of something or other, personally I like Black Sabbath.

Getting back to the real world for a moment. Bill Gates did in fact have a vision, and that vision was to place a computer in every house. He has achieved that vision. The OS most of you are typing on, and the hardware that's running it, and the web we are using to communicate, are a direct result of the implementation of that vision.

The way it's been implemented is as uncreative and derivative as Brett notes, but the fundamental vision is the reason pc spread the way they did, and it's the reason we are online chatting with each other in this way.

The vision of the Mac was to create a user friendly implementation of the original zerox parc technologies, a consumer level gui interface. That vision was completely successful. That's why Bill Gates tried to license it from Apple before he set out on his own Windows project. Then they decided to put the best gui ontop of unix that has ever existed. That vision also came to pass.

This is taking something that was not in existence and giving it existence. That's a real vision. Sergey and Brinn are taking things that existed and making them a little better. That's good engineering.

You can argue if Sergey and Brinn also have a vision, that's fine, but the proof is in the pudding, both apple and MS achieved their primary vision. Will Google? I'm starting to doubt it.

As for the software patents, Brett, you should start reading up on that a little more, I'd recommend some sites to you, but you know how to search. Software patents are one of the main ways large software companies, including your beloved Google, plan on fighting the next phase of software/os development, not by innovation, but by control over key algorhythms, sor of like patenting the g chord in music. Why do you think all large software companies are stockpiling patents? Why do you think MS funded SCO's thing?

If you'd read up on this a little more, you'd start learning why open source / free software people consider software patents the absolute number one threat to the continuing expansion of the open source/ free software movement. I'll help you out a little bit, find Richard Stallman's stuff, with free software foundation, or gnu.org

Read it, follow the links. It's pretty clear.

It boils down to this, patenting algo components is like patenting musical scales, chord progressions etc. If such a thing existed, there would be no real music made. Only corporations could afford the legal staffs required to ensure a piece of music did not infringe on a patent. Or that they had adequate patents to keep other music generating corporations lawsuites in check.

All music development would die in a generation. All current software companies built their products using the history of software development and logic. That's why innovation happened so fast. If software patents are allowed to continue, software development might completely stop, except for large corporations. This is not good. Remember, don't confuse a patent with a copywrite. Copywrite protects the complete work, whether a song or a program.


10:16 pm on Jan 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

Bill Gate is (or was) a visionary. I started writting...only to find out that 2by4 already said most of what I wanted to say.

The Yahoo founders and Jeff Bezos are more visionary than Sergey and Brin, Google wasn't the first search engine. They improved on the work of altavista, infoseek, inktomi and many others.

patent and open source. Sure open source works as long as none of it uses patented code or ideas. Let's leave MSFT and IBM alone for a second, try doing an open source SE that uses Page Rank and see what happens.


10:34 pm on Jan 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

<< try doing an open source SE that uses Page Rank and see what happens. >>

An outstanding example. Now take it one more step: try creating a google that does not run on open source operating systems or use open source technologies. Talk about hypocracy. Otherwise known as having your cake and eating it too. There are many reasons I have lost almost all respect for Google, this is one of them. In some ways I actually prefer MS's version, all their stuff, except for the open source stuff they steal and never admit to, is closed, proprietary. Their search engine is going to run on proprietary windows os's. At least they are consistent.


11:11 pm on Jan 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

When somebody's valued at $60+ BILLION says something, I'd sure listen... especially when they have a personal net-worth higher than the market cap of Google ($53.41B) and Yahoo [$48.57B].

He must be doing something right since Microsoft has a market cap of $285B - that's the value of 2 Google's and 2 Yahoo's + Page and Brin, with some extra spending money still available. :)


11:27 pm on Jan 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

And not only that, Google [goog] is today trading at a P/E of 234.5
MS [msft] is today trading at a P/E of 35, that's a little high, but given their continuing monopoly control of the consumer desktop, it's within reason.

To put this in perspective, General Motors today is trading at a p/e of about 7 today.

So assuming that Google is going to perform as well as MS, which it isn't, they are currently almost 10 times overvalued. Probably really more like 20 times. So drop that amazing 55 billion to around 3-5 billion. Suddenly google isn't looking very impressive, is it? Add to that increased competition in their core business area, add to it the absence of an MS style consumer os and office suite monopoly, and now Google is starting to look pretty much like nothing.

Warren Buffett, who actually knows what he's doing, and who Google claims to have some respect for, wouldn't touch a company like this, with no real assetts, massive overvaluation, etc, with a 10 foot pole, let alone buy their overpriced stocks.

If they don't follow the excellent advice given to take all their money and buy a real company they are not going to be going anywhere I think. Or they will be a good little company that provides good search results, which is all they ever have been anyway, unless you fell for the marketing hype, you'd think it was the late 90's or something. History is for learning from, not repeating. And their search results are going downhill. Am I looking at hotbot or altavista? Especially altavista, they made very similar type mistakes.

Oh, by the way, in case it isn't clear: I think Bill Gates and Apple etc HAD visions, and that they achieved those visions. I don't think that they have any more visions, I think they're out of gas, which is why they are switching to software patents etc. Those who can't create buy IP property rights. I think whatever vision Google had it achieved a few years ago, google was a great product. I don't think it's a great product anymore.


3:07 am on Jan 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

2by4, happy to amuze you :)

anyhow, as Brett's fascination with Google winds down, we are finally down to the very short list of sane business ideas.

Google can:
a) create its own browser, and become a multi-million company from a multi-billion
b) create its own OS, and go bankrupt as Y!, M$ and IP lawyer eat into their revenue
c) start buying competition or similar services like Altavista (oops, too late) or Overture (oops, owned by Y!)
d) start diversifying - may I suggest buying Doubleclick, or another advertising/publishing powerhouse?

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that software engineers turned businessman like Larry and Sergey understand important business model of diversifying. "People with no vision" like Gates and Jobs mentioned above, understood it. I understand the esoteric virtues a regular Joe wants to associate Google with, but I'd rather see sales with no vision than vision with no sales.

But hey, god bless them. Time will tell.

agrrr...my english is a little rusty
[edit]fixed spelling errors[/edit]

[edited by: aleksl at 3:39 am (utc) on Jan. 14, 2005]


3:16 am on Jan 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

"create its own browser, and become a milti-million company from a multy-billion "

If you can make funny jokes in English your english is just fine. LOL. But you should be charging google for your advice, it's better than their business plan.


3:28 am on Jan 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

"But hey, god bless them. Time will tell. "

either way they will still be billionaires. They filed to sell abut $1 Billion each of the business they believe in so much. How much has Jeff Bezos sold in so far? Or how much did Gates sell within a year of going public. David Filo, Jerry Wang...?

Personally I would do the same, if I was in their (G) position. Pets.com and eToys.com founders should've done the same while they had the chance.


3:57 am on Jan 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

>2by4: you should be charging google for your advice

:) I hope Brett and other honest folks at WebmasterWorld will save this thread for future references

I hope moderators will not delete these links below, it'll serve Google well. IMHO, Google needs to go down these 2 lists, see which companies are closest to its business model (that would be data processing and advertising), and come up with several names to buy.


Giant step offtopic - obviously Gates' speech made it clear that they will be a very serious competitor. Frankly, once search is intergrated into Windows... I don't know how other folks will compete with that. Unless M$ really screws it up. Just like it screwed up a built-in file search utility - what a worthless piece of code!


6:06 am on Jan 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

"Unless M$ really screws it up."

MS has had some truly spectacular failures over the last few years. Passport, the corporate edition, the new longhorn filesystem, other key longhorn components, a few others they've swept under the rug quietly. IE security. Other failures you probably haven't even heard about, their Photoshop clone software that came with the full office 2000 suite, a product so bad I haven't heard it mentioned at all since.

MS's successes are all focused around creating a standalone corporate computing environment. Fat clients running fat software on a fat OS creating very fat profits. That's where almost all their money comes from. As soon as they branch out from that core area their success thins quickly, and often vanishes. I don't see them as invincible at all, just very powerful, and very ruthless.

Their success with the web has been markedly unimpressive. They will need to change something in their corporate culture to get better at web oriented things. They already had the consumer theoretically tied in to msn search, IE is released with default msn home page, the default search option is msn, and it hasn't done them any good. Their search has to be good.

Oddly enough, I think Google will be just the same, as soon as they try branching out from their core area of search, their success will dwindle. But if they don't start focusing pretty seriously on that core area, they're not going to have anything at all. That means fix the sandbox, fix the algo, stop tweaking stuff every month to boost adwords or whatever reason they have for that.

We'll see if Google follows your advice though, depends I think on how much power sergey and brinn have in google. If they have a lot, my suspicion is that they will try, and fail, to program themselves out of the situation. As MSN chips away at their profits and market share.


2:00 pm on Jan 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

> Wow, Brett really loves Google, amazing.

Nice fud. If you've read here any time at all, you'd know I was never a "fan" of Google. I don't wish them harm or success, but am fascinated by the processes they have laid out and been successful with.

Getting back to the real world for a moment:

> and that vision was to place a computer in every house

And he got that from who? Intel? Xerox? Computer Club? hint: same place woz and jobs got the idea.

Interesting in that he has had little to do with realizing that achievement (since it is uncertain if it will ever be accomplished - we are a long way from it regardless of what bought-n-paid-for surveys say). That vision was not microsofts, but was Intels, IBMS, Motorolas, Xeroxs, Apples, Ataris, and Commodores gig. Microsoft? Was just there to bottom feed and pick up the scraps where it could at the time. Don't confuse business vision with industry vision (gates was blessed with the former and hasn't a clue at the later).

> vision is the reason pc spread

No, it spread because he suckered compaq into taking-one-for-the-team and solving their proprietary bios problem.

> The vision of the Mac

Was "borrowed" (or liberated) from Xerox at Melo park who invented the gui.

> As for the software patents,

Redhat etal hasn't had an issue and neither will Google. You could build an entire new system ontop of what is pd and put it out as proprietary. I think that is what Google will do. I wouldn't doubt to see an alliance with IBM on it.

> a) create its own browser,

They will not. They didn't hire all those exNetscapers to have Netscape Morgue part 2. They hired them to prevent that from happening.

> b) create its own OS,

Or take an existing one and stamp their name on it.

> c) start buying competition

None left to buy and they already have market domination.

"take one product and do it better than anyone else".

> d) start diversifying

Or extending the lines of supply down stream and upstream to the source of the money river. After that, go into all the off shoot tributaries and dominate those sectors too. Empires were not built by trying to invade noncontiguous spaces - they were built by absorbing neighbors. eg: Google will look to buying related industries that support or prop up its mission. Blogger, ...etc.

> may I suggest buying Doubleclick

Are they still around? Google can kill them outright - why spend the money? DC has little that Google doesn't already do better. Google is better with DC out there.


2:25 pm on Jan 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Bill Gates says: "Today's Search is Nothing"

He's quite right it is pretty lame in many ways.
They need to get new content indexed very much quicker certainly for higher ranking sites. It often takes a couple of weeks for new pages to rank in G, in my area that is OK but for more current or pressing subjects it can already be outdated.

That said Google are years ahead in terms of indexing when you look at all the others (certainly in my area)
on MS & Y they may never get on just as deleted pages may never get off.


6:20 pm on Jan 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

>> may I suggest buying Doubleclick
>Are they still around? Google can kill them outright - why spend the money?

Err..good point, ofcourse I meant ValueClick

[grunt] these companies couldn't come up with original name, could they?[/grunt].

And one wants that to get Commission Junction. Then you strip away similar services - and Voila! the 3-4-5 different revenue streams. That should help G to sustain an inevitable slump when they wonder into implementing another insanely brilliant idea.

I would also buy an off-line data aggregator (now I am revealing too much that I should start charging Google for business advice).

>> d) start diversifying
>Or extending the lines of supply down stream and upstream to the source of the money river.
> After that, go into all the off shoot tributaries and dominate those sectors too.

Thank you, my point exactly


7:55 pm on Jan 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Brett, you're pretty funny. What can I say, I'm sitting here typing on a machine built for windows, on windows. Because there are so many of these machines. I am not typing on a mac, or an amega, or whatever other failed company you want to bring up in terms of what set the global standard. And not one of those companies had the vision to shoot for global domination.

Bill Gates has this drive. It's disgusting, it's greedy, it's arrogant, but it's real. You don't achieve this type of global domination without having a hardcore vision that propels you to achieve it. If you had this you'd understand what this means. And you sort of do, I mean, WebmasterWorld is sort of one of the biggest forums around for webmaster stuff. That happened because you had a vision to make it happen. You can argue about what a vision is if you want, but you don't achieve anything in this world without having a vision.

You're being blinded by the loathing you have for MS, which I share, but that doesn't mean I can't see what they've done. And you're being blinded by some weird fanlike devotion for google, which is way too common on WebmasterWorld, it's downright boring if you ask me, is it just the cute name? I can't really think of any other objective reason to love that company, or to see them as somehow stunningly visionary, they aren't. Again, refresh your memory: a better search engine. A slighly better webbased email system with more storage. Pardon me while I fall over myself in amazement. People now expect slightly better search results than they used to. Wow.

google also had a vision, to do a better job with a search engine than altavista was doing. That's not quite as impressive a vision, but it is a vision.

Soon I'll be typing only on GNU / Linux box, but that's a different story. However, it's the standardization created by Windows that has enabled Linux to come up as a real option, finally. Although it's an ongoing struggle as MS works to put proprietary techniques into the actual hardware. Modems are only the most obvious area.

This same type of machine and OS exists all around the planet. This reality came about from a major collaboration between various commercial entities, MS being a major one. Intel being another. This was Bill's vision. It's his only one, but I do give him credit for it.

You can pretend that making a little search engine that works better than Hotbot did is somehow so much more radical if that makes you happy, but I was searching fine with Hotbot before google came along. Google was better, which is why many people switched. And I'll be searching fine after Google goes.

And I was searching running Windows. As were you. With browsing applications built around the Windows API. Pretending that Google has some kind of stunning vision is downright silly. Let's think for moment what google really did:

They set up a system where if you typed in some words you'd get a webpage that may or may not be what you are looking for. Just like Altavista did. Just like MSN will do. Why you think this shows some kind of profound vision is absolutely beyond me. I grew up with academic books, they all had an index. A library had a catalog. Why does an electronically indexed catalog highly susceptable to external manipulation [aka spam] strike you as a stunningly visionary idea?

You need to look at some real visionaries I think. I'm not a Bill Gates fan by any means, and I can't stand Apples, but I know what changed the world, and it wasn't Google.

Since it's obvious you haven't read any of the refernces I pointed you towards yet re patents, I'll ignore those comments. It's an interesting area, try learning something about it.


8:10 pm on Jan 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

as far as Bill Gates copying or outright stealing;) ideas and having others do the dirty work:
Einstein's wife did all the math for him and he relied on previous research. Nuf' said.

Talking about being influenced about others' ideas: It's funny how you forgot to mention where did Google get the idea for the link popularity.
The Pagerank is kinda stupid and here's why:
just because you only have 5 links on your PR8, doesn't mean that those links are more important than those linked from SiteB, also a PR8 but that has 30 links.


8:50 pm on Jan 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

All human endeavors are built around previously existing ideas. Any art, of any type, is built on a foundation of previous work. And depends on open access to that prior art. This goes for software, hardware, philosophy, music, etc.

If you pick one set of these events and histories and point out that they exist, eg parc xerox, amega, etc with MS or Apple, then ignore another set, such as the free linux os they built google on, the python they first used to program it, the c version they now use, the various data organization theories Sergey and Brinn studied and exploited to the hilt when they wrote their PR stuff, the pre-existing almost identical technologies like altavista that influenced them, what's the point? Nobody creates anything in a vacuum.

The real question is how this creation affects things. Google is just another search engine, there were search engines before them, and there will be ones after. There was not a global consumer PC OS before Windows/Intel. That is an objective fact. Mac tried, but failed. That was a failure of vision, or a restricted vision. Had they had a broader vision, we would all be typing on macs now. Except for the odd 3% pc users.

Learning how to algorhythmically implement those ideas in Page rank, which by the way sergey and brinn could do becaused THOSE IDEAS WERE NOT PATENTED, how is that particularly original? Or quantitatively different than what MS did, or Apple? It's not. Except it isn't as major an event by a long shot. Before Mac, there was no consumer GUI computing machine. Before MS there wasn't a worldwide standard format for data and cheap pcs to run it on. Comparing Google to that is ludicrous.


1:00 pm on Jan 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Sorry to take a detour here ladies/guys ( I apologise)

Stil, post was relevant to conversation here as well so I'll take the time to repeat:


Everyone (now enlightened) can get back to their regularly scheduled debate/arguement. :-D

- Colin

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 11:47 pm (utc) on Jan. 16, 2005]
[edit reason] offtopic - please reread the tos with attention to 24 & 26 [/edit]


10:33 pm on Jan 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

"I realise my friend is only a focus group of one, BUT, point is that an average surfer noticed it."

You can increase your focus group size. Over the last 4 years I've done a site of interest only to specialized audiences. Most weeks almost zero yahoo traffic. Last 2 months highly specialized technical searches are coming from over 50% yahoo/msn. This group of searchers in the past never used anything but google. Some weeks I could count the yahoo referrals in the low teens.

This site's numbers doesn't reflect a standard user base, which tend more towards the 10/20-25/60% msn/yahoo/google split, but they are to me very revealing. Google has been playing with their little knobs and buttons a little bit too much, it's not interesting, and is starting to smell of failure to me.

I became a google fan because their results were rock solid, I didn't even use bookmarks for a few years, I could count on their results. That hasn't been the case for one year now at least. To me it looks like they lost a bit of control, not being able to block out directory results shows a clear lack of creativity and flexibility in how they approach the problem. The funny thing is, Google knows how to solve the problem, but they won't do it. Stubborn programmer pride if you ask me, unwilling to look outside their rackmount boxes for solutions. A few recent blog postings by google people show this very clearly. I'd link to it but I seem to recall the TOS doesn't allow blog links.


9:09 pm on Jan 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

2by4, I agree, it isn't scientific.

But the point I guess is that when Google was rock solid then it would have been difficult/impossible to make people jump to another product.

From this, and other things, I can see the attitudes towards Google softening.

Now, present an alternative and people may jump. MS may have proven in they past they don't make the best products, but they are scarily good at making people jump to theirs.



9:28 pm on Jan 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Google has only one single asset, and that's their reputation for fast reliable searching. And uptodate indexing of the web. The most uptodate. They have already sacrificed a big part of this reputation, I'm assuming the only reason for that is to manipulate adwords income both pre and post IPO so founders can sell their shares at maximum profits. That's how I would explain it being kind to them, that's assuming that there actually is a logic behind what they are doing. A less kind explanation is that they have basically just messed up completely.


1:05 am on Jan 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

In terms of who has vision and who does not, a quote by Isaac Newton seems to sum up the whole issue quite succinctly:

"If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants"

Visionaries don't always have completely original ideas, we are always influenced in some way by what has gone before.

I think it is fair to say that we could all agree that today's search is nothing. It is also fair to say that Microsoft have not fully exploited the opportunities presented by the internet and that they have had some spectacular technology failures in the past.

It is important that we consider the reasons why this is so.

To my mind, Microsoft are in many ways, masters of the average, they cater for the average person, average people like what they know, even if it isn't neccessarily the best - sound familiar in terms of video recorders - the average person doesn't care about linux or windows, most of them can't even work what they already have. Maybe people here should go out and do some real world computer maintenance work to find out how people actually use their computers.

If linux is better or worse than Windows is irrelevant, what matters is how the masses perceive it.

This is what Microsoft has been successful at, the company seems to understand the average.

I think the real point for most of us here, is that up until recently - regardless of what we would like to think - the internet has not been in the hands of the average computer user. This is changing so why should Microsoft not take notice of the internet at last, it is now becoming business critical for them, because it now influences the lives of the average.

Whether we like Microsoft or not if they say that they are interested in the internet and search in particular, we should take notice. After all this is not a new theme as Gates stated at the Microsoft CEO summit in May 2000 when talking about XML, it would usher in the "the third phase of the Internet".

Clearly the internet is now - if not before - of interest to them and given that Microsofts technology failures - in a business sense - have usually occurred when tackling applications for markets other than the average, I don't believe they will fail if they really decide to target the internet and search now that it has critical mass.

Given the size and cash resources available to Microsoft allied to its business practices,Google and the other players in this market should at least watch with interest if not seriously consider their positions.

Classification and Search is nothing new, but the people who control vast areas of it may be about to change.


9:30 am on Jan 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Nice post. You're forgetting a key element in MS, it's absolutely correct to point out that on the consumer desktop they cater to the average, but they also cater to the needs of corporate networks. That may be a primary focus in fact. I doubt that MS has many average users working in Redmond, but many major corporations have employees who basically work in Redmond to make sure that primary needs are met.

One of the problems I think MS is running into is trying to balance out the needs of serious corporate networks and home users with the same products.

Plus there's that nagging problem of attracting the best and brightest of the new generation of hacker kids, Linux is starting to collect more and more of those, MS has to go into cs programs and pay large amounts of money to get what open source projects are getting virtually for free. Apache.org puts out seriously good products, most of the major languages are done by small groups of people. MS is having major problems in this area, they can't compete for the very best because the very best have no interest in working for them. So MS has to use very different methods to maintain, create, and expand its core products. They aren't getting the creativity, and that costs over time. They make interesting sounding excuses for this, but when you see a single person create a new linux file system for example, or a small group of people, while MS struggles to create any new thing, it's interesting to watch. Their feeble attempts to 'open' their code will not do the trick, it's not what is being looked for.

I'll watch with interest too, I don't see google walking down a particularly different path, so they may not do as well as they think long term.

Getting back to the original topic, unless search engines start fundamentally changing how they approach meaning, semantics, etc they aren't going to get very far with their 'visions', all they are currently doing is finding new and interesting ways to classify key word groups. Meaning and computers are still very distant relations, I'd say totally unrelated at this point. That problem has nagged AI for a long time now, it's why they have so many problems with technologies that were supposed to be ready to go many years ago, but if you keep approaching a problem with the wrong fundamental ontologies, you'll never get anywhere.


9:20 pm on Jan 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Without wanting to verge off-topic, I do think that the majority of Corporate Users are basically computer illiterate.

I had almost forgotten this as it is many years since I worked for one, but I have recently done some consultancy for a very large European Corporate and the level of computer illiteracy within the company really shocked me.

Yes the technical department is probably quite happy picking apart Unix all day long, but most of their users have enough problems with basic printing functions, let alone anything else.

I also think that major corporations are starting to wake up to the fact that changing OS will not neccessarily improve productivity and that they would be better making sure their employees can use the technology they already have. Being able to find stuff on their own networks - let alone the internet - would be a start.

I think that corporate networks are an area where search will become more and more important, with the increasing demand for information - both internal and external - for day-to-day tasks, decision making and competitive advantage within corporations even just for political advantage with their peers. There will therefore be a need for a quality search interface which fits right into the OS that these corporations already run.

Forget the fact that Firefox now comes with Google search built into the toolbar, the MSN toolbar suite with it's search built straight into the taskbar of a corporate windows desktop, as well as outlook and IE, will surely be attractive to corporations not to mention nice and simple for their employees.

If Microsoft can get the underlying algos right surely they get a significant advantage for search on the corporate desktop and - because corporate users then go home and use the same systems due to familiarity - they will also use MSN there as well.

They may not be able to attract the top brains, but they do know how to buy products and ideas, look at the "new" anti-spyware software, its very good and yet it still runs as a "Giant" process they didn't even bother to hide this fact.

Can Microsoft develop search into something fantastic, who knows, what I do believe is that if they have decided to join the game as a serious player they will win, even if we end up with a mediocre product.

Mediocrity may be a crime but unfortunately it is what most people want.

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