Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
Commentary
11/4/2009
12:08 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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Is Microsoft Bing Fake Search?

Discussing Microsoft's new price cuts for cloud apps, my colleague Mary Hayes Weier reported Microsoft VP Ron Markezich said he's seen no evidence that Zoho or others offering "fake Office capabilities" can match Microsoft Office. Counterpunching, Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu asks if that means Bing is fake search"?

Discussing Microsoft's new price cuts for cloud apps, my colleague Mary Hayes Weier reported Microsoft VP Ron Markezich said he's seen no evidence that Zoho or others offering "fake Office capabilities" can match Microsoft Office. Counterpunching, Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu asks if that means Bing is fake search"?From Hayes Weier's news story, "Microsoft Drops Prices Of Cloud Apps," posted yesterday:

Still, are Microsoft's cost cuts enough? Google Apps, by comparison, which includes apps for documents, spreadsheets and presentations, in addition to email, costs only $50 per user per year. Markezich's response is that Microsoft offers a scaled-down version of Exchange Online, designed for employees who aren't frequent PC users, for $24 a year, and a scaled-down version of BPOS for $36 a year. What's more, "we're not seeing any inclination that Zoho or Google or Zimbra or any other of those offering fake Office capabilities can replace [Microsoft Office]," he said.

Tarred with the brush of being less than real, Zoho's Vembu swung back at Microsoft and Markezich in a blog post that light-heartedly but pointedly asks if it is indeed true that reality exists only in the realm of the market leader. Because if that is so, Vembu writes, then Microsoft has a little soul-searching to do over the status of its fairly new Bing search engine:

Wow, wow, wow-Fake Office! That is indeed a badge of honor for us. We just have a polite suggestion to Microsoft: to be perfectly consistent, Microsoft should also label their Bing "Fake Search"-fair is fair, right? For the record, we actually think Bing brings a welcome dose of competition and we certainly don't think Bing is by any means fake, but with Microsoft marketing terming the entire competitive landscape to their number 1 cash cow "fake", we have to wonder if that would apply to their own effort at competing with the other dominant vendor.

And then Vembu dropped the all-in-good-fun pretense and lashed back hard at Microsoft and what he called its " 'manufacturing' world-view of software, with your proprietary lock-ins and your 90% operating margins":

While Zoho and Google are happily doing update after competitive update to our respective Office suites, Microsoft, with their "real" web office, is not actually making their web offering generally available.

Seriously, the whole "fake office" designation illustrates the main problem Microsoft faces. In their world view, with their quaint "Release to Manufacturing" rituals, the fact that a Zoho user has no CD or DVD to buy, no bloatware to download, nothing to install, simply just visit a web site, log-in (using Google or Yahoo accounts, if they must), and they are on their way to Work.Online, must all feel a bit, well, fake. But take it from us Microsoft: there is nothing fake about browser-based applications, no matter how you wish to keep the world on your "manufacturing" world-view of software, with your proprietary lock-ins and your 90% operating margins.

In fact, Zoho's employing a bit of jiujitsu strategy against Microsoft by taking the "Fake Office" swipe and turning it into a new website that asks customers to come and take a look at Zoho's products and then decide what's fake and what's real.

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