Microsoft buys Yahoo?

If you can’t make friends by networking, then buy them.

Eyeballs and attention spans make money in the new economy and Microsoft has never been an innovator.

It bought Hotmail, it didn’t invent it. The first edition of Bill Gates’ The Road Ahead famously neglected to mention the world wide web.

Public computer networking – independent of whatever operating system or browser you were running – as far as Microsoft was concerned, was never on the agenda.

The world wide web was always going to be the Microsoft wide web as far as it was concerned; a world in which you had to use Microsoft software to access certain features – just as Internet Explorer does with Hotmail now.

What Microsoft doesn’t realise is that what made sites like MySpace and Facebook worthy of top dollar was their adherence to open standards. Both sites work if you use a PC or a Mac or Explorer or Firefox.

It’s an all embracing network and not a closed one that wins in the end.

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I hope not. For my purposes Google performs an immaculate job in everything it touches without sinking to the very questionable practices that have been common at Microsoft for many years, in defiance of law both in the US and Europe. There has never been inspiration at Microsoft apart from a talent for nearly cornering a market. For inspiration you must look to the likes of Google and Apple.
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It's yet another reason the general population should look to alternative providers. Someone joked that we should all go out and buy a Mac - yet there are cheaper alternatives to this. Linux has taken strides in recent years for desktop use, and having been an on/off casual user for over 10 years, I took the plunge 2 years ago to go fully Linux at home, and have not looked back since. Ubuntu can install in less than 20 minutes, and won't need to be rebooted for years. Software just "works", too.
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How do you make a small fortune? Start with a large fortune and chuck it away buying overpriced dot coms. Ebay burnt itself badly with Skype, MS will do the same with Yahoo! which is so 1990s. The beginning of the end of MS's invincibility.
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I have to agree with Adam - I really wonder if Microsoft would be contemplating this acquisition if Bill Gates was still the main driver. It feels very Steve Ballmer - a man who's primarily a very ruthless salesman, not an ideas man. Under Ballmer, I think we really are seeing the beginning of the end of Microsoft, despite record profits. He is not accustomed to compromise, but nowadays, your competitor in one sphere is also, more often than not, your partner in another (yes, I know the Novell-Microsoft thing is supposed to show that MS can "play nice", but it's basically camouflage for a leopard that's never changed its spots and in fact, appears to be tracing over them in indelible ink). We have moved most of our core applications over to web servers now, and do you know, not a single one of them is Microsoft? Setting up alternatives to Exchange, SharePoint, SQL Server et al. takes significantly less time, and in the case of SharePoint and SQL Server, can be matched by some really astonishingly good open-source software (take a look at Deki Wiki, or Moodle). The writing's on the wall...
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You’ve hit the nail on the head, Bill. Microsoft has to capture the next generation of IT managers who are being brought up to use software – predominantly web-based applications – as a service. Web based applications do not tie software to hardware with the same cohesion as traditional desktop apps. Therein lies the problem for Microsoft: its traditional market is eroding, it has to become an “internet orientated company.” Microsoft is worried. It fears that if doesn’t get its nails into this new market, however amorphous it is at this stage, it never will. Can I ask; you mentioned that you moved your core applications over to web servers and not one of them is Microsoft – what was the impetus behind that decision?
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Sorry, John-Paul, just caught up with this thread again... Okay, fair question. Bit of background first: we're a small but highly specialised business (copywriting, transcreation) that's very reliant on tight teamwork with lots of freelance writers and linguists. That means lots of remote collaboration, fantastically intensive e-mail activity, high priority given to readily available reference material and multilingual full-text indexing (not one of SQL Server's strengths!). First impetus: a big tender we did some years back (2002, I believe), when we asked lots of local suppliers to come up with a remote-working solution that included mail, file access, ideally HTML file preview, extranet (nowadays we'd be talking wiki) and remote working. Oh, and must be cross-platform (many of our suppliers work on Mac or even on Linux). One by one, the ten or so firms (all "systems integration" specialists) fell out of the bidding process as they realised they couldn't meet our needs. Very frustrating! Especially when we realised that almost all of them were exclusively Microsoft shops, and could only offer Microsoft solutions which, as it happened, didn't fit our needs. So I did a lot of my own research, briefly contemplated GroupWise (put off by user feedback), even contemplated Lotus Notes (put off by my own experience!), finally opted for FirstClass (then owned by Centrinity, now owned by OpenText). It wasn't the perfect solution, but having been developed to withstand teen hackers back in the early '90s, was (a) resource-efficient (unlike Exchange); (b) very, very fast (thanks to origins as Mac-based GUI bulletin board); (c) cross-platform and (d) unbelievably stable. FirstClass is still one of the most impressive groupware systems around, but its user interface - revolutionary back in the 90s - hasn't kept up with modern developments and now comes across as very clunky and unattractive. And one thing I've learned as a self-taught SME IT director: the user interface is key to achieving user buy-in, especially if you're asking people to change their working methodology. Second impetus: it was clear by the mid-2000s that web interfaces were the way to go, so we started looking round again. This time we had much more choice: wikis, extranet software, webmail, full-text search engines - all had progressed since our last big round-up. But still not enough, and the huge prices being charged for what are still widely considered "enterprise" tools are quite unjustifiable, especially when said tools are poorly designed (a recent study by I can't remember who - Gartner? - has just highlighted the inadequacy of many "enterprise" applications, to my huge amusement). So once again we cobbled together our own solution, using DeskNow as our groupware (flawed, but better than most), Leaf Networks' amazing virtual NIC to tie our remote office file systems together (makes WebDAV look antediluvian), IBM OmniFind to act as our search engine, and a mixture of open-source goodies to create an extranet (DekiWiki and Metadot). It's all platform-agnostic, and doesn't need advanced engineering qualifications to implement. All our backups and archives are held on various NAS devices (my favourite being Synology's CubeStation series - with MySQL and PHP built in). We don't use tape (can't stand it! and certainly don't trust it). I've periodically reviewed Microsoft's tools, especially SBS (most recently 2003 SP2). Funnily enough, what puts me off most of all is the sheer complexity underlying the whole thing. There are clearly lots and lots of little wheels whirring away under the relatively user-friendly surface, and as soon as you have to explore it all in any detail, you discover all sorts of horrors just waiting to take you by surprise. But what also puts me off is Microsoft's hidden agenda, which has become much more obvious and even explicit under Steve Ballmer: to bind its customers to it using whatever devious means come to hand, and then screw them till they squeal. All my solutions can be run on various different OSes, including Linux and Mac (sorry, actually Leaf can't - yet - but they're working on it. And I can forgive them because (a) it's free and (b) it's so good). In the face of Microsoft's efforts to bind its customers to it, I'm afraid I regard this platform-agnosticism as absolutely essential. Rather than making an initial choice that gradually narrows down the range of applications you can use, I've made a choice (or series of choices) that keep my options wide open. That, in a nutshell, is my main and lasting incentive. It costs me more work, but leaves me remarkably flexible to change systems whenever I feel like it. So now, folks, for our next act, perhaps it's time to contemplate switching over to Mac OS X Server, which is very nearly ready for prime time. But hang on a second: Steve Jobs is so similar to Steve Ballmer it's slightly scary. So perhaps we won't be doing that after all... Cheers, Bill
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