From a CERN dinner conversation I just had:
“Microsoft has traditionally been the window through which we have viewed the desktop. And Google is now the window through which we view the web. Microsoft has had its caged rattled.”
Google has, arguably, better search engine technology than Microsoft.
But for any network to function properly, information must be structured and organised properly, so that communities of users and search engines can find exactly what they are looking for.
The value of a network is proportional to the number of users using that network. Users will be more inclined to use one method of search over another if it offers them the ability to class information in a meaningful way.
This is the next big challenge for the internet: organising unstructured data.
Information is only going to grow and we, as users and contributors to the world wide web, are going to have to have to find a way to index it, if it is to remain meaningful.
If Microsoft was smart, it would start building features into IE to allow users to tag information that could only be read in IE and tie that to a web search service like Yahoo. An IE user using a Microsoft search would then have access to search features competing sites wouldn’t.
But then that would be evil, wouldn’t it?