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Is Google the New Microsoft? 492

Posted by samzenpus
from the Imitation-is-the-best-form-of-flattery dept.
ericjones12398 writes "Google's come up with its solution for Dropbox: If you can't buy 'em, copy 'em. The search engine and online advertising giant replaced its popular Google Docs service with Google Drive, a cloud computing storage service designed to directly compete with start up Dropbox. This raises the question, has Google become the new Microsoft? Us ancient folk who remember the 1990s and the Microsoft anti-trust trial can certainly notice some parallels. A big, dare we say monolithic, company doesn't bother innovating on its own. It just waits for other companies to innovate, makes some changes for legally significant distinctions and enters into competition with the innovator. Sound familiar?
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Is Google the New Microsoft?

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  • Patexia (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Internal Modem (1281796) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:10PM (#39908389)
    I don't know, but Patexia seems to be a front for someone according to the bias in all of their articles over the past 2 years as seen by a Google search.
  • by hsmith (818216) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:10PM (#39908391)
    They just stole from Excite?

    They stole email from hotmail?

    Please, on a site that bitches about patents blocking innovation we are bitching about a company seeing an idea and building their own now?
    • by Qwavel (733416) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:23PM (#39908513)

      Yes, even their Search Engine wasn't really that novel.

      But Google does still innovate. Actually, looking at web tech (Google main area of expertise) I think people's biggest complaint is that Google innovates too much.

      Everybody knows about Chrome, but that is just the beginning - Google has been pushing at every boundary of the web.

      Of all of them, I think Dart sound very interesting. I'm impressed that they managed to come up with a new language that has all the modern language features that developers are after, while still maintaining a form of compatibility with Javascript (and therefore all browsers).

      And, since this article is about comparing Google to MS, let me point out that this couldn't be further from MS's attempt to change the web. ActiveX was proprietary and non-Web in every way. Dart is both compatible with the existing web (through it's ability to generate js) and is open and unencumbered.

      • by fish waffle (179067) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:49PM (#39908747)

        Yes, even their Search Engine wasn't really that novel.

        Actually it was. Well, not in technology but in presentation. While AltaVista and Yahoo were busily making their results load slower and slower, burdened with popups, animations, and ever-encroaching side, top and bottom bars full of ads, google offered a greatly simplified presentation---one well-contained banner ad at the top, and maybe a couple, well-identified sponsored results. The result was extremely usable when the industry trend was in the opposite direction.

        Unfortunately, they have since begun a slow amble down the same path as past search engines, not necessarily purely in ad density, but nevertheless packing more and more useless crap and visual bling into the search results. An essential difference, however, is that despite having bloated up the loading of results with dozens of ajax callbacks, they've invested in an extensive and truly impressive infrastructure that can keep up with the weighty result pages they end up creating. At least so far.

        • by gl4ss (559668) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @01:17PM (#39908971) Homepage Journal

          look, altavista started with a design just about like google.
          the reason why a lot of people started using google was simply that it was like altavista was before turning into a shitty portal. copying their design from 3 or so years back wasn't that innovative, it was google offering a "classic" design.

          the full circle is that googles main page is starting to turn into pretty heavy stuff now..

          • Come on, it was absolutely not just the design. Google gave much more relevant search results from the beginning than Altavista ever did.
          • by dudpixel (1429789)

            I remember having to type +this +that in altavista (or was it AND this AND that?) just to make sure that the search results contained what I was actually searching for!

            Google came along and suddenly the default was "search for pages containing ALL words" (not ANY words) and guess what? it gave better search results.

            Add to that the fact it seemed lite when everything else was getting more and more "busy", and they had a winner. Also, it was cool to use Google back then. It still is to some degree, but the ti

            • by Serpents (1831432)
              True, but now their "autocorrect" function is more of a problem than a solution. I use several languages and changing language in google before every search would take too much time. Worse yet, google used to search for what you typed and politely suggest "did you mean..." now it shows the results for what it thinks you wanted to type and it's almost always wrong and just shows what you typed in small print below the search box. While I still prefer it to other search engines in my opinion is started turnin
        • Also, at the time Google first came out, the prevailing sentiment was that search was a dead end, that there was just too much stuff out there and it was impossible for algorithms to figure out how to pick out the best pages for a query. So when everyone else was focused on building big curated directories of the Internet, Google's innovation showed that search could not only work well, it could work much better than directories.

          There are times when a quantitative improvement in quality provides a qualitative difference in utility, and those are innovations. One of my favorite examples is git -- git doesn't do anything that several other distributed version control systems didn't do first, but git's primary innovation was to do it all hugely faster. So much faster that it improves productivity not just by reducing time spent waiting for the computer, but by actually changing the way people use the tool. Web search was drowning in crap results and everyone expected that as the web got bigger this problem would continue to grow, so search was doomed -- until Google showed that it wasn't, that in fact it's the most natural way for people to interact with huge volumes of dynamic data, if done well.

          For that matter, Larry Page believes that Google has -- even today -- only solved about 10% of the search problem, and that there are huge opportunities for additional innovation in that space.

          (Disclaimer: I'm a Google engineer. I don't work on search, or Drive. I mostly work on Google Wallet which is clearly a blatant ripoff of... er...)

      • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @01:48PM (#39909183)

        Yes, even their Search Engine wasn't really that novel.

        Bullshit. Their algorithm, page rank, was something brand new that was a significant improvement on the two standard approaches to search engines: hierarchically organized oracles (Yahoo) and keyword matching based on relative frequencies (Altavista).

        Seriously, I'm sorely disappointed by the amount of basic information that techies here are getting just plain wrong. I'm starting to think that the astroturfing/trolling is having an effect on people. How does it go? A lie gets half-way around the world before truth gets its pants on. As said, I'm pretty disappointed by the posts here.

        • by loneDreamer (1502073) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @02:31PM (#39909501)
          Not to mention many other innovative papers studied in academia. Sure, "the little box were you type a query" doesn't seem special, but you are discounting Map-Reduce (from which Hadoop was copied), Google File System (HFS copies it), PageRank, the push to use redundancy on of-the-shelf cheap disks and other components, etc etc etc

          A bunch of their techniques are never seen by the end user, but they have GREAT innovations on the back end.
      • by gmuslera (3436) * on Sunday May 06, 2012 @03:23PM (#39909815) Homepage Journal

        The search engine parallel applies well for google. Google didnt just did "another search engine" back in the time, it redefined it, improved the whole concept. Wasnt just a bit more than a cosmetic improvement like Apple's iP*, was a deep functional one. Gmail? spam filtering that worked, and gigabytes of storage when most if not all offered megabytes? Yes, i call that innovation.

        In the other hand Microsoft buys (even the ms-dos was bought by them), ties to their own platform, and if someone makes an alternatives, excludes it by hardcoding (like with dr-dos), adding non standard things that break that competitor functionality or forces vendors to not sell competing software or products with it installed. The only breaking innovative thing that Microsoft did was its aggresive marketing model, taking out of market usually better alternatives.

        The day that Google services block people using anything except Chrome or Android, that day Google will start to look a bit like Microsoft. Until then the similarities will have to wait for very long.

  • That depends... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MoonBuggy (611105) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:11PM (#39908403) Journal

    Are Google enforcing proprietary formats, bundling products to the detriment of their competition, and 'reinterpreting' standards such that third party options no longer interoperate properly? Although MS have been forced to improve more recently, I think that style of business was always the main problem that people had with them. Throwing another option into the marketplace without any element of coercion is fine by me, even if it is just a copy - genuine competition keeps everyone on their toes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Are Google enforcing proprietary formats

      I don't know what you mean by "enforcing", but I suspect you're asking the wrong question.

      When you host all your users' data anyway, as Google services typically do, it doesn't matter all that much what format you're using to store the data internally. What matters is whether your users can readily get access to their own data and interoperate with other products/services that use that data.

      Have you ever tried to get a document or spreadsheet out of Google Docs and into one of the other on-line office suite

      • Re:That depends... (Score:5, Informative)

        by cyber-vandal (148830) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:55PM (#39908813) Homepage
        Exporting Google Mail isn't terribly difficult. Microsoft allowing you to import it has nothing to do with Google. Putting their stuff in their browser when they have 2 other major competitors has nothing on driving all other browsers out of the market and imposing a non-standard browser that set the web back a few years. WebM - lol you are clutching at straws aren't you. WebM has failed miserably to unseat h264 which is, unlike, Chrome, monopoly rent protected via patents. I suggest you read Judge Jackson's findings of fact and see just how badly behaved Microsoft were, and how Google, so far, have nothing at all on them as a scumbag corporation.
      • Re:That depends... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Terrasque (796014) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:58PM (#39908841) Homepage Journal

        Have you ever tried to get a document or spreadsheet out of Google Docs and into one of the other on-line office suites? How about exporting your entire Google Mail archive and importing it into Hotmail?

        Trolling much? I just tested.

        Google docs :
                File -> Download as -> Word, ODT, RDF, PDF, Text, HTML (Zipped)

        I downloaded as ODT, and it looked exactly like on google docs. You can also batch download docs.

        And Gmail support both POP3 and IMAP.. What else do you need?

        Contacs list... CSV and vCard export.

    • by fermion (181285)
      I don't know that Google does not enforce proprietary formats. I know it can export and import, but I am not clear that the internal format is something like Opendocument that can be downloaded from a server using standard command line protocols. Without such a possibility Google is enforcing proprietary formats. At their whim they can remove exporting to anything but PDF.

      Also recall that until Bing came along, Google was basically a stagnant product, with improvements meant to increase revenue, not he

    • Re:That depends... (Score:5, Informative)

      by darrylo (97569) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @02:00PM (#39909291)

      You've obviously never heard of google's Data Liberation Front [dataliberation.org].

  • I remember when Microsoft was the refreshing, freedom-loving alternative to Big Blue.

    My how times have changed.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Blymie (231220)

      That was never the case, ever.

    • Re:Singing the Blues (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:22PM (#39908499)

      I remember when Microsoft was the refreshing, freedom-loving alternative to Big Blue.

      Yes, that was from 1975 all the way until 1976 [wikipedia.org].

    • by ArhcAngel (247594)

      I remember when Microsoft was the refreshing, freedom-loving alternative to Big Blue.

      My how times have changed.

      I am intrigued by your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter. /s

  • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:12PM (#39908417)

    Come on, let's not overromanticize DropBox here. They didn't invent the online storage business either. There were several companies in it during the .com boom, even Apple got into it before DropBox (and back out).

    DropBox entered into a business which is less a business dependent on client software but more on network infrastructure, something Google excels at.

    So just to ask, when was Google the first into a market? Not search. Not ads. Not mail. Not voice (they bought Grand Central).

    They're the same as they ever were. They aren't first, but sometimes they do a better job or change up the business model.

    • by crunchygranola (1954152) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @01:48PM (#39909187)

      So just to ask, when was Google the first into a market?

      I am having a hard time coming up with many companies since the invention of the computer that were truly first to market, and successful for the long term. Xerox is the only one I am sure of, and that was due to patent protection (this is not a criticism, this is what patents were meant for). It is quite rare for a first to market company to actually prosper on it own, as far as I can see. In every space, later competitors seem to beat them out.

  • No. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:12PM (#39908419)

    Can we moderate stories yet? Please? Can't we mark shit like this a -1 Troll?

  • by Voyager529 (1363959) <voyager529.yahoo@com> on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:14PM (#39908423)

    Google is the new Apple.
    Apple is the new Microsoft.
    Microsoft is the new IBM.
    IBM is the new Xerox.

  • It's not just that (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Toreo asesino (951231) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:14PM (#39908431) Journal

    I still remember GMail offering 1-2Gb when the competition had a maximum of 50mb (or thereabouts). GMail blew away the competition back in the day.

    Fast-forward to today, G+ is several years too late to the market, and Google Drive offers less space than the 25Gb SkyDrive users have had for years and hardly anything worth even mentioning functionality wise. And don't get me started on the Ts&Cs about data privacy - there's a reason you'll never see a private cloud solution from Google - they want _all_ your data or they're not interested.

    Google has a great search engine and have done some great web-apps before (gmail, google maps) but everything else just seems a bit "meh" at best at the moment.

    • by quippe (767072)
      A big meh like the self-driving car, or getting the linux kernel with android on several millions of smartphones made by dozens of different producers?
  • by EdZ (755139) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:16PM (#39908451)
    Because Dropbox was a totally innovative startup, and nobody, NOBODY ever thought of some sort of way of remotely storing files before, no siree! And certainly noone ever had even the slightest idea that synchronising files between different machines could be a useful idea.
  • Maybe, maybe not. (Score:5, Informative)

    by multicoregeneral (2618207) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:17PM (#39908459) Homepage
    All big companies do this. It's not proof that Google is Microsoft. It's proof that Google is big. What made Microsoft distinct was the way it competed. Google doesn't compete with the same level of carnage that Microsoft did. There has been some bloodshed, but the fact that Google+ is where it is, would be a good way to demonstrate the argument that Google is not Microsoft. Have there been allegations of predatory behavior? Yes, of course. Do you hear about it happening all the time? Not really. Google drive is kind of like Dropbox, but Amazon Drive is a lot more like Dropbox. Why is everyone talking about Google, when Amazon stole the service and copied it lock, stock, and barrel? Amazon is Dropbox's ISP for hosting this stuff. And yet, despite the fact that the case of Amazon is predatory, everyone's so concerned about the case of Google, which isn't? Why, exactly do people who care about predatory business practices care more about Google than Amazon? The mind boggles.
  • No one can invent everything, and i still see Google producing new stuff all the time. They would be a fool not to pick up on trends, and include them in their 'suite' of offerings to remain relevant.

    They are also not waiting until the last minute to adopt things, and then do it 1/2 assed, like Microsoft tends to do.

  • IT is a field that is changing rapidly, and if you stick to only one service you may soon find yourself out of business. Therefore, big tech companies try to get a hold in every promising new market segment. Which is exactly how capitalism should work, developing a multitude of services for the users to choose from. Dropbox didn't invent renting online storage, and neither did Megaupload, it has been there long before them. The only difference is that they offer a limited bait service for free, and they hav

  • Microsoft actively battled, and still does, open standards. Google pushes open standards and puts a lot of weight behind them.

    Microsoft has always (and was convicted of) using it's monopoly power to force other products and services on users. Even though it has a venerable monopoly on search and online video, Google does NO SUCH THING, in fact they actively open all of their APIs on both platforms and allow ample third party integration.

    Microsoft does little more than pay lip service to the open source movement, and has even gone on record to say it's a cancer. Google actively peruses open source, they publish a huge amount of their work under open source licenses, and they put a lot of money into sponsor ships through programs such as the Summer of Code.

    People like to give Google a lot of flack for knowing everything about you - HOWEVER Google actually goes out of their way to allow users to have total control over their data. You can log into your Google profile at any time and export all of your data and then delete the profile, leaving no trace. You can opt into having all your data anonymized, and you can opt out of all tracking on their properties, if you choose. Can you do this with Microsoft's products? I mean it is 2012 and you can't even access your hotmail via an open protocol, let alone export your data.

    Microsoft and Google have always been polar opposites. All of this recent hatred toward Google is really unjustified.. it's basically perpetuated by people who simply like to vote for the underdog.. previously Google was the underdog, now it is other companies... Google is no longer "cool" and "hip", it is "corporate" and therefore evil... well, evil is relative. Compared to Microsoft, Google is a relative saint.

  • by slasho81 (455509) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:42PM (#39908689)

    Shamelessly stolen from four years ago [slashdot.org]:

    Google now has a full-blown case of the Microsoft Business Disaster Model. This model goes like this:

    • Get a highly profitable monopoly.
    • Watch gigantic sums of cash accumulate.
    • Panic at the thought of actually distributing that cash to shareholders, as the law requires.
    • Start throwing money at any additional product line you can think of, believing that because you got that first profitable monopoly (largely by luck), you are Really Smart, and therefore you can make money at anything.
    • Watch with relief as stockholders don't notice how much of their money you are shoveling into the fire, because your core monopoly is still making huge profits.
    • Spend years telling yourself that having divisions that lose gigantic sums of money for years means you are now a "long term" strategist.
    • Drift slowly into decay like the Soviet Union, still powerful, still important, but internally depressing, wasteful, and decrepit.

    The most profitable company this year (2008) was Exxon-Mobil. A company that has to get its hands dirty and actually move a physical product had higher profits than Microsoft, a company that just thinks up bits that it then distributes, largely electronically. Imagine the profits if Microsoft were to sell off all its huge money losers, retain only enough employees to maintain Windows and Office, and pay out all the profits as dividends. It would be the most incredible stock the market had ever seen.

    • by Bigby (659157)

      So you are against innovation?

      What has Exxon-Mobil invented in the last 20 years? How about Google? and I am not just talking about front-end products, but back-end products and processes. A high R&D model makes money. I think those against companies with high R&D think that the government is the only one doing R&D. No...companies do it too...

  • by neokushan (932374) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:45PM (#39908713)

    Companies steal - all companies do it. Apple stole from Android, Android stole from iOS, Windows stole from OSX, OSX stole from Windows - it's a never ending circle. Twitter and facebook have both stole from each other, Linux has stole from Unix and so on and so forth.
    The companies that don't steal don't innovate either, they just piss off their users because company X has a great feature and the users want it. Eventually those users leave for company X.

    If it's a good idea and you're not doing it, then you're doing it wrong.

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @01:56PM (#39909261)

    How can you take this article seriously for even one second?

    Google is going into the same business that others are already in . . . OMFG!!!!!! EVIL!!!! EVIL!!!

    So if I open a hardware strore, am I evil because others have opened hardware stores?

    What tech has not done anything like dropbox? Yahoo, MS, Apple, are all doing similar, and have been for some time.

    If MS starts Bing, that's fine, no problem at all, no slashdot article screaming about microsoft being a monopoloy or anything. But if it's Google . . . OMFG!!!!!! EVIL!!!! EVIL!!!

    Don't you people even recognize a Google smear when you see it?

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @01:57PM (#39909271)

    monopoly operating system?

    Oh? Well then no it's completely different.

  • by AftanGustur (7715) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @02:42PM (#39909579) Homepage
    Google simply develops a similar technology themselves.

    Microsoft makes a "cooperation" deal with companies to work together on their technology, steals the sourcecode/technology and then ends the contract.

    This was the case with IBM's OS/2, Corel Word, Oracle's Database and Stac Electronics' "Stacker" where Bill Gates himself famously lied in a sworn testimony about the theft.

    These are just from the top of my head, I am sure people can come up with other examples.

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @02:55PM (#39909661) Homepage

    Microsoft has historically been very aggressive towards their competitors. They've frequently crushed competitors. Their users, who are their customers and pay them money, they treat reasonably well.

    Google, on the other hand, focuses their aggression against their users.. Google's tries to collect as much info about its users as it can, which is a lot. Then they resell that data to advertisers. This has them in trouble with the EU privacy authorities and most of the US state attorneys general.

    Then there's the drug dealing. Google had to admit guilt to multiple felonies related to advertising drugs. [googlemonitor.com] They had to pay a $500,000,000 penalty to avoid felony prosecution.

    And no, it wasn't just "Canadian pharmacies". The FBI became involved because some drug dealer they were chasing ran an online pharmacy racket on the side and advertised with Google. The FBI then ran a sting operation against Google [wsj.com], running more and more outrageous ads for illegal drugs. Google execs met with the FBI's con man, who was pretending to be an agent for a Mexican drug lord. They extended him credit for AdWords ads. The U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island says Larry Page knew all about this. [wsj.com]

    Microsoft has had antitrust problems, but nothing like that.

  • by andydread (758754) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @03:24PM (#39909829)

    "This raises the question, has Google become the new Microsoft?"

    The question is....who's raising this question? What public relations firm is raising this question? The answer though is a resounding NO. Google is NOT going around using sleazy tactics like Microsoft does. Google is NOT using software patents to kill open source. Google is NOT funnelling money to trolls like SCO or IV and others in an effort to as drive up cost or litigate open source and free software products out of the marketplace. Google is NOT a member of the troll group BSA let alone a leading member. Google doesn't stack standards committees with their own drones in an attempt to corrupt the standards process. Google does NOT spread FUD about open source violating their patents but refuse to come clean on what patents yet force people to sign non-disclosures about said software patents after they are cajoled into paying a license fee for software that they did not even write one line of code for.

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