Fred Vogelstein has penned a piece on MSFT and Google for Fortune (sub required) and taken the tack of Google’s push into software, generally. A good overview of a subject covered often here – the idea of search becoming the interface to all data, and therefore, the “Windows” of the web platform. He’s got Gates on the record on Google, which is a pretty big deal.
From the opening:
He was poking around on the Google company website and came across a help-wanted page with descriptions of all the open jobs at Google. Why, he wondered, were the qualifications for so many of them identical to Microsoft job specs? Google was a web search business, yet here on the screen were postings for engineers with backgrounds that had nothing to do with search and everything to do with Microsoft’s core business—people trained in things like operating-system design, compiler optimization, and distributed-systems architecture. Gates wondered whether Microsoft might be facing much more than a war in search. An e-mail he sent to a handful of execs that day said, in effect, “We have to watch these guys. It looks like they are building something to compete with us.”
All of which helps explain why inside Microsoft, the battle with Google has become far more than a fight over search: It’s a certifiable grudge match for king of the hill in high tech. “Google is interesting not just because of web search, but because they’re going to try to take that and use it to get into other parts of software,” says Gates as he leans forward in his chair, his body coiled as if he could spring to his feet at any second. “If all there was was search, you really shouldn’t care so much about it. It’s because they are a software company,” he says. “In that sense,” he adds later, “they are more like us than anyone else we have ever competed with.”…
…Forced to watch Google’s stock soar the way Microsoft’s used to, and Brin and Page enjoy their roles as tech’s new rock stars, Gates brings to the fight a ferocity that nobody has seen since the Netscape war a decade ago. Their popularity gets under his skin. “There’s companies that are just so cool that you just can’t even deal with it,” he says sarcastically, suggesting that Google is nothing more than the latest fad, adding, “At least they know to wear black.”
…Trying to build a Google killer, however, has turned out to be truly humbling for Microsoft. The effort has taken longer, cost more money, and exposed more big-company problems at Microsoft than anyone imagined.
BTW, I have to say, I HATE the Time Inc. sub wall. I am a subscriber, and it NEVER remembers me, and I always have to re-register. It’s deeply lame, in too many ways to mention. Time Inc. folks reading this, get your shit together and join the point to economy, please!