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Microsoft's response to Google Chrome? SharePoint

Company is actually way ahead of Google when it comes to shifting the battle from the desktop to the cloud. Microsoft's ace is called SharePoint.

It's surprising how many people are still asleep at the wheel while Microsoft continues to nurture perhaps its fastest-growing product (in terms of revenue) ever: SharePoint.

The Web has been aflutter with Google Chrome discussions since it was released last week, much of it centering on Google's strategy to drive a stake through the heart of Microsoft's Windows business by shifting the operating system to the cloud, rendered in a browser.

Such talk overlooks the fact that Microsoft has already started to move its own Windows business to the cloud, rendered in SharePoint.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has singled out SharePoint as Microsoft's next operating system. CMS Watch calls out SharePoint as inseparable from Office in its next iteration. Small wonder, then, that SharePoint renders the traditional content-management vendors comparatively obsolete, as a quick Google Trends review of popular search terms suggests:

SharePoint dwarfs its competitors in ECM, or enterprise content management. Google Trends

Microsoft has been moving enterprise data off hard drives and into its proprietary, server-based SharePoint repositories for several years now. It's moving at a blistering pace, "steamrolling" other enterprise 2.0 products (to use Forrester's word).

Google, meanwhile, is also going to need to attract enterprise IT groups to adopt its Chrome browser by making it easy to develop applications to run in Chrome. Guess what? Microsoft is already doing much the same with SharePoint, except that those content-rich applications work better (or only) in Internet Explorer.

Microsoft, then, has not been sitting still, waiting to be run over by Google. It has been quietly spreading SharePoint throughout enterprises. SharePoint opens up enterprise data to Microsoft services, running in Microsoft's browser. Unlike Google, however, Microsoft already has an impressive beachhead in the enterprise. It's called Office, and most enterprises are addicted to it.

In sum, if Google is aiming for Windows, it's going to lose because the table stakes are much higher. For Microsoft, the game is SharePoint. For the rest of the industry, including Google, the response needs to be content standardization. Watch this space.

Disclosure: I work for Alfresco, an open-source alternative to Microsoft SharePoint.