Microsoft to Google: Hands off enterprise search

COO Kevin Turner says Redmond will fight to win the corporate search market--"it's our house."

BOSTON--Microsoft is digging in for a fight with Google in the enterprise search market.

"Enterprise search is our business, it's our house and Google is not going to take that business," Kevin Turner, Microsoft's chief operating officer, told a conference of more than 7,000 business partners here Thursday.

Kevin Turner Kevin Turner

It's the largest gathering that Turner has addressed, and only his second appearance at a Microsoft conference, since joining the company from Wal-Mart 11 months ago.

Turner said the company is also gearing up to take on IBM and Oracle, among other competitors, with new products slated for debut in the next few months. But he saved his most acerbic comments for Google.

"Those people are not going to be allowed to take food off of our plate, because that is what they are intending to do," he said.

In recent months, Google has unveiled new search appliances. But it hasn't spelled out its overall enterprise search plans.

Earlier in the week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer listed search--Google's bread and butter--as one of his company's most important areas of investment. "Search from the desktop to the enterprise to the Internet is a business of great importance and a market of great importance to us," he said Tuesday.

Ballmer said the enterprise search market represents more than $13 billion, and that the software maker has signed up 35 partners to focus on that area.

Microsoft plans to release the long-delayed Windows Vista operating system, Office 2007 desktop application package, Windows Server operating system, Dynamics Live CRM, and many other products between now and the end of next year. Turner said those products represent "$20 billion of R&D coming into the market."

Microsoft and Google are increasingly seen as being on a collision course in the business software market. The search giant has introduced products such as Google Spreadsheets and Google Calendar that have the potential to threaten Microsoft's desktop application business. But the company hasn't made clear its plans in other areas, such as word processing.

The threat has been enough to spur Microsoft to revamp its business to focus on online services under the Windows Live and Office Live monikers.

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