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Thread: Microsoft (Decline Of)

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You underestimate the power of the Dark Side!

Bing - More Grist For The Google Mills


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Date: Fri, 12 Jun 2009 00:10:23 +1000

Despite the raucous celebrations of the Microsoft sales and marketing team, the chorus of assent from their distribution channels and the rather more desultory cheers from an ever dwindling band of Microsoft true believers, the Bing blip is already fading from the Internet radar screen. As the great Google behemoth continues it's irresistible trajectory down the Internet super-highway, "Bing" is destined to be little more than a bug on the juggernaut's windscreen.

The Bing marketing fiasco would have been humiliating for most regular marketeers. However since the campaign was constructed by a corporation afflicted with a terminal case of overweening hubris, it doesn't seemed to have caused even a trace of embarrassment at Redmond. In the same way that the great American motor giant, GM continued with their big-headed plans to manufacture monster trucks and urban assault vehicles long after consumers all around the globe had shown a preference for Turning Japanese, so Microsoft will continue to keep churning out the same old frills, eye-candy, window-dressing and advertising while anyone who is serious about creating Internet search engines is turning to open source.

All over the world millions of users typed their own name into "Bing" marvelled at the results and then went back to using Google. And as long as the name they typed had been around on the Internet for more than a week, the results would have been very similar to Google. This was the reason for the "Bing hiatus", a brief upward surge in popularity, and the consequent slide.

Microsoft will probably rename, re-badge, re-vamp and re-launch their sad sagging search engine sometime soon in the next year or so. But even though they can add fancy menus, auto-popping-up porno previews and flashy JavaScript do-dads, it is obvious they can't create an efficient server cluster. They don't have the technology, the culture or the experience necessary for such a project.

The time lag for adding current content to their index is only one symptom of the problems that beset Microsoft. When your humble blogger first tried Bing Maps, the shallowness and inadequacies of the Microsoft operating system at the back-end was manifest. It took 58 seconds for Bing to bring up a flat map of Australasia and another minute to drill down to a useful map of Melbourne. For comparison, your humble blogger tried Google Maps at the same time. As usual Google Maps returned a detailed aerial view of Melbourne in under 5 seconds, with the choice of switching between Map, Satellite and Terrain (each switch taking under 5 seconds), and of course the amazing "Google street view".

Returning to Bing maps, to continue the comparison, things were not going so swiftly. These screens were coming from an Australian domain, http://maps.live.com.au/, which according to the server headers was running Microsoft-IIS/6.0 ... And herein lies the real problem! The response from this server was glacial. In fact, your humble blogger hesitates to use the word glacial for fear of defaming glaciers. Alas, your blogger fell asleep during the initial experiment with Bing maps ... In fact it seemed that the server had also gone comatose while trying to render an "Aerial" view of Melbourne. Considering that the average Internet user lacks the patience and dedication of your humble blogger, it is likely that many of those users who typed their name into Bing would have gone straight back to using Google Maps (and have already done so - in fact).

Now to be fair (but cruel), your humble blogger must admit that a week later (in the middle of the night), the performance of Bing (Aussie) Maps had improved considerably. However that was after their 15 minutes of fame, basking in the glory of all that advertising (especially on Google)! By this time of course, hardly anyone was using Bing ... So the performance problems may have been a simple case of another Microsoft server caving in under the stress of a modest demand (a very common problem with Microsoft servers). So, a week later when Bing was forlorn and forgotten, it was possible to take Bing maps for a quick test drive.

Bing maps is basically an attempt to mimic Google Maps. It is just slower and clumsier. However your blogger can't resist commenting on the fact that Microsoft seem to start with the assumption that the earth is flat whereas Google assume that the earth is a globe. It seems that the flat-earth assumption is a central plank of the Microsoft paradigm. No doubt the dedicated Microsofties will find this premise agreeable.

Although, the most serious delusion that Microsoft seem to suffer from is the notion that they can fix their sorry search engine by merely changing the packaging, wallpaper and menus and totally disregarding the need to change anything on the inside! The fact that the folks at Microsoft could even consider such re-packaging to be a genuine overhaul demonstrates that they don't really understand the basics of search technology.

By now even the sales and marketing team probably realise that Bing will be only more grist for the Google mills.

Meanwhile, the news on the console front is much better for Microsoft. There has never been a well developed channel for Open source gaming, and frills and eye-candy really do impress gamers. By announcing a new project that aims to introduce a "natural" motion interface to their Xbox console, Microsoft are admitting that the real competition is with Nintendo. Of course both Microsoft and Sony have denied that Nintendo is a "real" competitor, and pronounce that the WII is not a "real" gaming console. But that was just blather.

For the time being the competition between Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft will be intense. The real prize is to get a set-top box into the lounge room. Whoever can win this competition will have a smart device in the centre of millions of houses around the world. We can only hope that a single company does not prevail.


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