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So, if they know they were slow, why haven't they gone out their and bought someone? Maybe they did or didn't make a play for Google but why not go after someone else?
I have been having a few thoughts about this and have come up with the following:
Microsoft's Eat Their Own DogFood Approach
With majority of SEs out there running on Linux or Unix technology, they are not going to be that attractive from a technology point of view. From an IP and Patents point of view they would be. But for a company who is facing the battle of the *nixs, what better proof of concept of Windows in a data centre than a search engine?
SharePoint Portal Server
Whilst a nice pretty product that tries hard to be a document management system but isn't quite there, it does have a really good relevancy algorithm for looking at documents of a known type i.e. DOC, XLS, PPT etc. The alogorithm was devised in the Microsoft Research Lab by a few PhDs and won aclaim when it was released. So they at least have a foot in the door for building the relevancy algorithm.
Development Team and Deep Pockets
When you have deep enough pockets, you can afford to throw warm bodies at a problem and hire some very important people. I would be expecting to see some "big name" hires in the future (if not already I may of missed them).
MS has several different storage technologies to adapt to for use - SQL or Outlook WebStore. Another solid-ish foundation to build from, that they are farmilar with. And again - another proof of concept for scalability.
So combine these things with:
Hailstorm / Passport to give you personal search
Smart Tags to do searching from a document
Ownership of both the desktop and the browser giving you an untapped market
MSN are going to be a serious player - maybe not in the first release but subsequent releases.
I also come back to, what is MS good at doing? Taking a product, making is simple and easy to use whilst increasing the number of features and options and all the time making a lot of money out of it.
I think one of the major advantages of developing their own software is they can market it as a Microsoft branded product (enterprise search etc).
MS could buy both Yahoo and Google using cash in the bank and still have several $billion in change left over. This has nothing to do with the ability to buy, it is to do with getting value for money.
I believe M$ realizes that both Yahoo and Google are over valued by huge amounts. Yahoo's PE is 150, M$ is 31.....something wrong with the valuations? Google is an unknown, but I bet it would be closer to 150 than 31 if a public company.
A search engine without users is useless waste of money, OV and Yahoo already paid plenty for those. $20 to $35 billion is a lot to pay for a slice of the pie. If you own the OS and largely control the environment there may just be a much cheaper way of getting that slice for next to nothing.
M$ didn't buy Netscape, it hasn't yet bought AOL, and I don't think for a second it is considering buying Google or Yahoo unless they are being offered at a song, at which time M$ won't want them anyway!
>MSN are going to be a serious player
MSN are already a serious player and the only one I see with current growth and huge potential.
They are already nibbling away at the competition, given a new OS with built in search, the others are going to feel the pain some more.
M$ are not in a hurry. I believe they will be very happy to play out a 10 to 15 year strategy of domination in search. They admitted they started slow, and I expect that to continue with only a little more pace.
Google was the Hare, the race will be between the Tortoise Yahoo and the Giant Turtle Microsoft.
>I believe M$ realizes that both Yahoo and Google are over valued by huge amounts. Yahoo's PE is 150, M$ is 31.....something wrong with the valuations? Google is an unknown, but I bet it would be closer to 150 than 31 if a public company.
By "economically afford" I mean in a sense they could financially justify it, as opposed to possibly do it. As such, we seem to agree that starting their own SE makes more $ sense.
Hey, it worked for Google just a few years ago. Just ask Alta Vista.
But to jump into the search engine wars with a clean slate now, you need big bucks, and Microsoft has deep pockets.
what better proof of concept of Windows in a data centre than a search engine?
Especially if that's a new version of Windows in a new market for them.
It would make a pretty powerful selling point if it really worked for them - you can just see some MS salesman saying something like, "well, it's the operating system behind MSNSearch which does XX million searches a day"
And I don't think there's any doubt that MS wants to take some of the server pie from Sun/IBM/Linux et al.