I’ve been trying to use Google Docs in anger over the past week and found some huge limitations.
Documents are shared individually. There are no team folders.
You would think that once you set up a domain everyone in your team would be able to see a folder structure of shared documents. Nope.
Again, surprising how the really big smart companies miss out doing even the basics well.If I was in charge at Microsoft
We’re a Microsoft Gold partner and really appreciate our relationship with MS. Lots of friends there.
Only a few years ago the Microsoft powerhouse was unstoppable. You couldn’t even imagine Microsoft could have a competitor and there were calls to break MS up.
Then two fronts happened. The Internet, which challenged the lock in of the desktop model, and Apple came back.
It’s a fascinating tech story that thousands of people commentate on. But this article was a bit of a wake up call as to where MS is at.
Over the past couple of years, Microsoft’s already problematic reputation in some circles — as the soulless, power-hungry purveyor of lackluster products — has suffered a series of self-inflicted wounds. It spent two years and $500 million on the media blitz around the long-delayed Windows Vista launch, only to see the January 2007 “Wow” campaign, which likened Microsoft’s new operating system to Woodstock and the fall of the Berlin Wall, derided as arrogant and creatively void. Vista itself sold poorly, leading to price cuts of up to 40%. Worst of all, the flop bred a new generation of Microsoft haters. “Microsoft has really lost control of its image,” says Rob Enderle, an influential advisory analyst for tech companies including Dell, HP, and Microsoft. And with its two most formidable competitors — Apple and Google — boasting their own consumer cults, that’s the last thing Microsoft can afford to do.
I’m sure Microsoft strives to do better but the fact is as companies grow it is just hard to be nimble and the technology market allows new entrants to come in unencumbered and change the rules. In that climate long term brand demise is entirely predictable. But at the same time a cheeky challenger, smaller with a lot more focus, but big enough to make an impact has been accelerating that brand erosion.
Nothing is doing more to carve away at Microsoft’s reputation — and contribute to its loss of market share — than the assault launched by Apple two years ago in the form of the “Mac vs. PC” spots featuring The Daily Show satirist John Hodgman. The ads became immediate pop-culture fixtures, spawning more than 1,000 video spoofs on YouTube and taking home last year’s Grand Effie, the ad industry’s highest honor for effectiveness. “Nobody messes with anyone in the tech industry the way Apple has messed with Microsoft,” says Enderle. “It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a major national campaign that disparages a competitor, and the competitor just sits back and takes it. If somebody tried to do that to Oracle, you wouldn’t be able to find the body.”
It is so interesting to watch this battle on such a big and public scale.
Microsoft is reinventing itself. SharePoint is growing like a wildfire in the enterprise and the cash keeps rolling in.
Far from being complacent Microsoft has lots of smart people and lots of money. They know they’ve missed the market in a number of public areas and that has removed any corporate arrogance they might have been accused of a few years ago.
They will have learned a lot of the past few years, and especially over the last few months on the so far failed Microhoo bid and the unrestrained reaction from the community.
I expect Microsoft to reinvent themselves over the next few years. Now there is real competition and that leads to innovation. That is great for the industry.
What would you do if you were Microsoft? If big Steve tapped you on the shoulder and said, your turn?
Here’s my strategy …
- A lightweight operating system. Forget backward compatibility. Just needs to run Office v.next which has to be compelling. Make it not need a hardware upgrade. Less is more. Open Source it.
- Leverage the Office platform for a powerful Software + Services model. Collaborative Office has to be the goal.
- Win the Enterprise. That means double down on SharePoint, but make it a database, not a collection of objects.
- In fact promote everyone in the SQL Server team. The Enterprise is about databases.
- March out everyone in the Exchange storage team. Exchange is your corporate anchor. There has been no innovation for years. You need to port it over SQL Server immediately. Shoot anyone that stops you. Mail is a database application. Period.
- Clean sheet redesign or your mail client. Mail is broken at all levels and is the most important application.
- Buy a big Services company. Maybe HP. Microsoft has to be the new IBM. Straight partnering won’t cut it anymore.
- SilverLight has to win, or buy Adobe. Don’t let Apple get them or you’re done.
- Resurrect Internet Explorer for OSX. You’re going to loose OS market share in the short to mid term, at least have a chance to keep them in the browser.
- Lock in Dell. As computer hardware gets cheaper the OS becomes the biggest cost. They’ll go Linux unless you fix those relationships with a great OS. You need a tighter hardware/software partnership. Surely together you can build a stunning computer. Look at OLPC2.
- Significantly up your Open Source strategy across the board. That will win back the geeks.
- Win the SMB market. No one there yet and they already have Office.
- Do lots of small acquisitions to fill in the strategy.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS) .Net and Windows Server with compelling licensing.
- Sack all the existing design guys and hire a design dictator who overseas everything. Microsoft Web properties, packaging and applications are ‘over designed’. You need someone who understands less is more. Not Chris Bangle but like a Chris Bangle at BMW who drove design.
- Do a total redesign of the Windows Mobile interface. It is not a scaled down desktop computer. It is a handheld device. Hire some RIM guys to do it properly. Or buy RIM.
- Maybe use some cash to buy or lock in a global fibre network. Vertical integrate your Enterprise Software stack with the network layer. Then you can QoS connected applications and add value to the stack with Enterprise Messaging Services, off site back ups etc.
- Xbox/Media center has to be default lounge computer. Double down but really model user scenarios so it works as people want to.
It’s a big list but MS has a big team, the brains and the resources.
Over the last few months we’ve seen a number of significant computing opportunities arrive that provide access to massive markets for new ideas.
Developing applications inside FaceBook was a good first start.
The iPhone SDK is a big game changer. Reports are coming in that the iPhone is the biggest mobile computing browser already. Whatever you think the iPhone is huge and a number of companies are seizing the opportunity.
Today we heard about Google App Engine. This allows you to deploy your application into Google’s server cloud. Just write your code, load it up and promote. This reduces barriers to entry significantly. Amazon has been doing this for a while but what is different about Google App Engine is the that it allows you to link into Google Accounts.
Check out this simple list management program … http://to-done.appspot.com/
You login using your google credentials. So imagine all the little useful applications you can write that leverage that simple logon mechanism.
But looking a bit further out this post from David Recordon nails what gets me excited.
Imagine if Google Accounts added support for the (upcoming) OpenSocial REST APIs. All of a sudden, each of these App Engine sites could start injecting activity and querying for activity across each other.
If done right, this really could be the first shipping glimpse of the distributed social web that there is to come.
Winer has some strong thoughts as well - Early notes on GoogleApps
I’m really pissed at Microsoft. Why? They wasted billions on Vista when they should have been virtualizing Windows and making their developers’ investments apply to the net. I know it sounds outlandish, but it really isn’t. Amazon doesn’t offer EC2 for Windows, just Linux. And I’m stuck with two Windows boxes at my hosting company, hosting a dead fucking end. My bet on Microsoft in the late 90s just ran out of gas.
Microsoft is investing big on virtualization, and data centers, so while not at the party yet there will be a big push from them in this space in the next year. There is a lot of .Net code out there waiting for this and .Net developers will demand it. They’re invested and don’t really want to learn a new languages like Ruby, Cocoa or Python.
Regardless, computing is moving away from the traditional ‘build an application over an operating system’ model of past at frightening speed. There is so much opportunity opening up right now as the technology world shifts into this new ‘application in the cloud’ model and incumbents don’t get how big a shift this is.Google Maps Mobile
Has been upgraded recently. I was on version 1.6 and it’s now up to 2.0.3. The new version seems to be able to locate you roughly using cell towers, so works inside - just in case you don’t know where you are. Works great in Wellington
Point your mobile device to www.google.com/gmmAndroid phones
As widely reported it looks like Android phones could be out later this year.
I hadn’t paid a lot of attention until I saw this photo. It’s looks like a HTC prototype but interesting it looks like standard Windows Mobile hardware.
So this is very significant as the manufacturers don’t have hardware to redevelop or even customize. All they need to do is develop the software layer that links Android to their already developed Windows Mobile hardware.
In fact it’s all upside from the manufacturers as there is little risk. Consumers can choose what they want.
So this open sourcing of the Phone OS is a very aggressive move to marginalize Microsoft on the phone. By having advertising baked into their Open Source Phone OS Google can give it away.
Is it just me or has Gmail just changed? Seems to be more ajaxy, pop up stuff going on with contacts etc.
What else does it do?What’s Knol?
Anyone up on Knol?The significance of Google’s Android
Excellent analysis of Google’s mobile play from Andreas Constantinou.
Every application on Android is a Web 2.0 citizen
Very interesting.Your digital future is green
3 conversations came together for me last week.
Firstly at an excellent MED sponsored capital markets conference on Tuesday we heard that Asia, Australia and many other countries are having huge water issues. Places that have abundant water and can grow crops that use water (like trees) will have an increasingly valuable natural resource.
Next I heard that Google are investing in green energy.
Lastly Andy’s speech at the Digital Summit on Wednesday: Green digital generation the future, Lark tells Summit. A key point was an increasing projection of the amount of power required to run these big data centers. Andy said something like that for data center operators the cost of power will be much more than the cost of the hardware and other components.
So the reason Google in investing in green energy is that they have worked out that they need it. And will need it badly soon. It’s standard vertical integration.
So you look at what we have in New Zealand.Â Abundant water and the ability to make energy with it.
Maybe it really is time to think big again and design big hydro schemes that can catch and manage water for primary production and produce energy.
That and big glass pipes connecting us to the world and New Zealand just might be a compelling placeÂ - even for people like Google.
Also I would imagine that one of the issues with having your 767 flying bedroom is finding a handy location 12 hours from Moffat field so you can use it. Suddenly we have a few things in our favour.Google Kites
Peter Lynn is name I used to hear around a few years ago in NZ windsurfing and kiting circles.
His name appears in the latest Cringely.Google Phone
Google are starting to peel back the layers on their gPhone strategy with this article in the NY Times.
Fascinating read. Here are some highlights.
Google is not creating a gadget to rival the iPhone, but rather creating software that will be an alternative to Windows Mobile from Microsoft and other operating systems, which are built into phones sold by many manufacturers. And unlike Microsoft, Google is not expected to charge phone makers a licensing fee for the software.
They will put it in the open-source world and take the economics out of the Windows Mobile business.
Googleâ€™s agenda is to disaggregate carriers
How about this howler from Arun Sarin who clearly does not get the power of software. In a similar vein to Thomas Watsons “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers” …
Arun Sarin, the chief executive of Britainâ€™s Vodafone Group, which offers the Google service on its phones, said it was not clear what compelling functions Google would offer that are not already available.
â€œWhat is it that is missing in life that they are going to fulfill?â€ Mr. Sarin said. â€œIt is not a no-brainer. You can reach Google already through a number of devices. You donâ€™t need a Google phone to do that.â€
Hope PaulB comments on that one :)
Googles intentions come through loud and clear. The battle lines are being drawn between carrier mentality and Internet mentality. With the ground softened by the iPhone launch.
This will be a riveting watch.
Never bet against software.Richer online applications
Has anyone noticed what Adobe’s been doing lately?
Adobe is quietly and steadily becoming a bigger player in Internet computing. I’d written off Flash as great for marketing sites but Adobe is driving Flash into a Virtual Machine. I would not have expected to see word processors and photo editors delivered over the web.
Adobes approach differs from Google. Google is sparse and light - more traditional web apps with lots of wizzy AJAX and CSS. Adobe is taking more of a design led approach with rich Flash applications. But there will be an front load time.
Microsoft should be leveraging their client advantage doing a Software + Services model. Collaborative Word. Imagine being able to jointly work on a Word document across the web. That’s what I want out of Word.
Microsoft of course has SilverLight - but will we see a SilverLight Word? I’m not sure that makes sense.
But no doubt Adobe has become a player and a charting quite a different model. It’s not a two horse race anymore.Adobe buys Buzzword
TonyR from work alerted me to BuzzWord just a few days ago. It’s Word Processor developed in Flash. Now I’m not really a huge fan of sandboxed Flash apps in a Browser, but BuzzWord is simply stunning. Try the demo.
“Flex and Flash were the means to where we want to go. No one else realized how powerful it was as a virtual machine,” Treitman said.
I think this is a significant acquisition for a few of reasons:
- On line collaborative document space is wide open.Â Google has some offerings but just haven’t pulled it together. Microsoft has not yet made its Office crown jewels really collaborative. Buzzword shows how it could be and there is still plenty of room for innovation even in what you would think is a mature space.
- Unifying a design led approach with great developers can deliver world class products and services with a small team.
- Buzzword could have come out of New Zealand.Â It didn’t, but we have locally all the skills to play.
Just noticed this …
This post from Cringely has been locked in the back of my head since November 05.
So why buy-up all that fiber, then?
The probable answer lies in one of Google’s underground parking garages in Mountain View. There, in a secret area off-limits even to regular GoogleFolk, is a shipping container. But it isn’t just any shipping container. This shipping container is a prototype data center. Google hired a pair of very bright industrial designers to figure out how to cram the greatest number of CPUs, the most storage, memory and power support into a 20- or 40-foot box. We’re talking about 5000 Opteron processors and 3.5 petabytes of disk storage that can be dropped-off overnight by a tractor-trailer rig. The idea is to plant one of these puppies anywhere Google owns access to fiber, basically turning the entire Internet into a giant processing and storage grid.
While Google could put these containers anywhere, it makes the most sense to place them at Internet peering points, of which there are about 300 worldwide.
Hmmmmm. Interesting.Gmail trick
If you’re like me and flat out (sorry the blog posts have slowed down) you might get a bit behind in your gmail.
The search in gmail does allow for some structured search commands.Â A really useful one is label:unread.Â That shows you all of your unread mail that you can quickly process and get back to a fully read mail box.
Anyone got any other useful gmail tips?Google buys Feedburner
Another powerful acqusition by Google.
Google shares over $500 today.Google Gears
Stephen from the SMH just gave me a heads up on Google Gears, an open source browser add-in that enables offline applications.
To start the ball rolling, Google has “Gears-enabled” its RSS feed reader, Google Reader.
This is a significant move from Google into the Browser. Very, very clever!Â The timing is significant, being well before Firefox 3.
The tech world will be all over this over the next few weeks to see how elegant the implementation is.
This is a very significant shot by Google. First out can create a standard. This is a race. You can imagine the scramble going on inside Microsoft today.
What do you think?Cringley on Google Universal Search
Another good Cringley column. I enjoy reading his take on big boy strategy.
Schmidt on Double Click purchase
Universal Search is Google’s attempt to destroy its major competitors who, like Gorbachev in the waning years of the USSR, have to follow suit and start spending money they don’t have if they want to even appear to still be in competition with Google. This means for these companies more software development, more sweeps of the web, as well as the greater likelihood that among their top results will be pages located at Google properties like YouTube.
Bite sized (5 mins) glimpse into Google strategy.
Four strategic initiatives in their business
- End user access and use of information
- Google internal processes