So everyone is talking about the Yahoo bid. The reg ran an interesting article about the likelihood that the proposed hostile takeover would spend months if not years in anti-trust battles with the EU. The pull the following quote from an unamed “leading UK competition lawyer”.
“The obvious initial fear could be that Microsoft would bundle search into Windows. That’s something regulators will have to look at. It’s possible that Microsoft will make a commitment not to do this before the deal goes ahead in order to head off regulators.”
Now, here’s the thing. Whatever your thoughts about Microsoft, it’s really galling when the EU prevents genuine progress in the name of consumer interest. Seriously, why is search outside the OS? Well, because it’s accessible via the web. Why is that? Well, that’s where the content is. The OS runs the browser which really acts as a container for visual and “light” execution of web code. As browsers and webdev standards have become more sophisticated this situation hasn’t been all that bad. Indeed the proposed next revision of HTML (html5)standardises the inclusion of more traditional fat-client UI capabilities such as 2d graphics and sound/media control into the nice and relatively tidy language for describing web pages. This is generally held to be a good thing. Let’s ignore Microsoft’s new browser, ACID testing and the whole issue of interop switches. It’s reasonable to conclude that the boundaries between web and desktop are blurring. Web execution environments such as Adobe Air also herald a new era of browserless rich web clients.
So while the rest of the industry is progressing in the direction of web apps running seamlessly on the desktop it seems it’s a crime for microsoft to include search in the desktop. We’ve already got GoogleDesktop.. It’s already been done guys.. Wake up and smell the burnt coffee.
The real issue here is that Microsoft search competitors like Google (hardly underdogs) make money from advertising revenue that they fear Microsoft would cut off at the source through tighter integration of non-google search with the OS.. I like Google, they’ve done an amazing job but I don’t think that they really need governments and regulators to protect their interests over Microsoft. If MIcrosoft are going to beat Google by incorporating search into windows, they’ll have to improve the quality of their search dramatically.
With that in mind it’s time to reconsider whether it’s really in the consumer’s interest to prevent Microsoft from reasonable and justifiable user experience improvements whenever they may hurt their competitors.