Microsoft and Google, and the Unending Circle of Copying

Google and Microsoft are clearly mutually obsessed -- why else would they so flagrantly copy each other’s initiatives. Free e-mail, mapping, productivity software suites, indexing of books, and now classified ads. First Google, probably upset that Craigslist has so many eyeballs, announced Google Base, a system to support broad-based classified ads (and more). Google Base, because it can index so much grassroots content, may turn out to be pretty amazing. Without a hint of embarrassment, Microsoft weeks later disclosed plans to do the exact same thing. In classic Redmond style, the new service will be integrated with other Microsoft tools such as IM and mapping.

The Apprentice
As an avid “Apprentice” avoider, I can only report third-hand what happened recently on The Donald’s show. It seems that Donald wannabes lined up to market Live Meeting. My guess? These Apprentice clowns wouldn’t last a day in the real world of Microsoft.

How Open is Open?
Microsoft has long controlled the market through files formats -- if you want to be in business, you have to read and write Office formats. So, it was a big deal last week when the company agreed to submit its upcoming Office formats to a standards body and allow others to use them.

But not all are so easily impressed. The Swiss-based Ecma is viewed by many as a lightweight standards body that allows vendors to maintain control of patents and exert royalties. Not much of an open standard, is it?

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How Many Vistas?
Just when Windows aficionados were getting used to monthly Vista betas (I know, Microsoft calls them Community Technology Previews, or CTP), Microsoft up and changes the schedule -- to no schedule! Now, new betas, I mean CTPs, will come out when there is something dramatic to show, either in terms of features or quality. Just in time for the holidays is a new CTP with a host of goodies.

Just to keep us all confused, there is a Vista Beta 1, and the CTPs are like point releases of the first beta.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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