Competing, the Microsoft way(s)

I have to confess that the longer I cover Microsoft, the less I understand about the software giant.

This morning, the company announced a test version of Silverlight, software set to compete with Adobe Systems' Flash.

Smart move, but it's taken Microsoft an eternity to respond to the Adobe technology. Adobe has already waded into the software development arena with technology like Flex and Apollo, and we are seeing increased speculation about Flash's potential.

While it's too soon to gauge the progress of those efforts, their success is not beyond the realm of possibility.

This isn't the first time Microsoft woke up late to a possibly game-changing technology (though we're still far away from that scenario). And maybe Microsoft will turn away the threat from Adobe as easily as it previously trounced the likes of Netscape and Java. Or maybe it won't. That's the nature of competition.

But on the same day, we find Microsoft raising alarms about the potential antitrust implications of Google's pending deal to acquire DoubleClick. Besides the obvious irony of Microsoft complaining about another tech company's purported antitrust violations, it's a fairly lame response to the vigorous challenge presented by Google.

Once again, Google beat Microsoft (and, for that matter, Yahoo) to the punch. This fits the pattern of the Microsoft-Google competition during the last couple of years.

Maybe problems with process and execution are holding the company back. But Microsoft spends an awful lot of time explaining what it wants to, do while Google lets its actions speak for themselves.

Maybe that's why Microsoft has decided to beg Uncle Sam to come to its rescue.

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Tech Culture
About the author

Charles Cooper was an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet.

 

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