back to article Why has Microsoft stopped being beastly to Google?

"You can't deprive a gangster of his gun" – Noel Coward Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella sees things differently from his predecessor Steve Ballmer. And one of the first thing Nadella saw differently is Microsoft’s relationship to Google. On assuming the hot seat, he couldn’t understand why Microsoft was obviously at war with …

  1. Bob Vistakin

    Because they are dying and know it.


    1. Spearchucker Jones

      Re: Because they are dying and know it.

      So is Apple. More so, in that they've just posted a decline. Google is dying. As is the earth, the sun, and one day far, far in the future, my mother in law. With the sudden popularity of adblockers I actually have more faith in Microsoft's longevity, who make products, than I do Google's, who deliver ads, and who's "moon shots" aren't amounting to much.

      1. Sil

        Re: Because they are dying and know it.

        As ridiculous as people that would have you believe Apple is doomed with only 10 billion in quarterly profits.

        Yes Microsoft is downsizing, but its adapting pretty well to changes, and it's developing technologies and businesses that should have a bright future.

        The quasi -monopoly of Google in digital advertising is fantastic for its shareholders, but it can't last forever.

        1. xylifyx

          Re: Because they are dying and know it.

          The Google infrastructure is so important that Google is too big to fail. My take is that in 10-15 years it will get split up Standard Oil style and some of it nationalized and turned non-profit.

    2. RyokuMas Silver badge

      Re: Because they are dying and know it.

      More likely because people are waking up to the fact that Alphabet/Google has become more evil and far-reaching than Microsoft ever was - websearch, email, mobile devices, spy-glasses (binned, thankfully), and with self-driving cars to track your movements, their own fibre network (to better track your web activity) and balloon based connectivity (with traffic tracking and spy cameras? I wouldn't put it past them, given their previous record for sly wifi slurping) in the pipeline.

      So there is a gap in the market, created when Google abandoned all pretenses of doing no evil, for someone to stand up for the users - and Microsoft are desperate for it to be them.

      Too bad that their prior reputation still haunts them (I guess even after 20 years, there are still those mired in the past)... and the current Win-10 telemetry issue is not their cause...

    3. jnffarrell1

      Re: Because they are dying and know it.

      Cloud companies are entering the age of the user keyholder. Reciprocal respect for user preferences requires reciprocal respect and open APzIs among operators.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Because they are dying and know it.

      Yep. Microsoft and apple now both need Google more than Google needs them.

    5. Bob Vistakin

      Re: Because they are dying and know it.

      Told you so.

      1. Bob Vistakin

        Re: Because they are dying and know it.

        It's a slow motion car crash.

  2. hitmouse

    Considering the number of ex-Microsoft people at Google, and the general career merry-go-round between Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, Oracle etc, I wouldn't lend much credence to any avowed policy of one vs the other.

  3. HmmmYes

    Because MS is a little bitch now?

    Its a bigger, badder world than when MS started swing its dick around in the early 90s.

    Also, MS see to be really struggle of employing SW bodies. As far as I can work out its seriously down on heads. Yes, its not short of employees but it does seem sort of the SW bodies who make a difference and get things done + shipped.

    Or maybe its become a nice ,respectable company?

    Yeah, I dont believe the last one either.

    1. IGnatius T Foobar

      hire some real programmers

      Yes, its not short of employees but it does seem sort of the SW bodies who make a difference and get things done + shipped.

      That's because they're hiring H1B's instead of actual software engineers.

    2. Mikel

      Don't believe it.

      They are just pretending to be nice to get through the evening, and get into Google's bed. As soon as they're cuddled up in the dark though, the knives come out again.

  4. jack d


    As most of the governments relied on the special keys obtained from Microsoft to spy on their own citizens, Windows users, with the advent of the cell phone and Android, the PC slipped much in importance. PC is stationary, it can plugged out, etc. But an Android cell phone is a perfect spy - always with the "suspect", voice and video always on - all contacts, present and previous locations for years back - who would ever need Windows any more? Windows 10 tries to bridge the gap here - make Windows equal Android in the spying functions - hence the forced updates (anything can be "forced", like remote execution of code), inability to switch off telemetry, and so on. So it is just a cover up - how can you bite the hand that made you fat and let you grow into a world monopoly?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    The only reason...

    Microsoft stopped being mean to google is because they are becoming more and more like them...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They can't complain about Google scroogling you

    When they are scroogling Windows 10 users just as much. They can't market against cloud, or search, or other stuff Google does because Microsoft does all those things too. Hard to differentiate themselves via attack ads when they are an older more staid version of Google.

  7. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Readers may well applaud the focus on the brave strategy of litigating to gain the user's trust – but wonder why Microsoft's continues to use aggressive malware techniques to persuade us to upgrade to Windows 10. Good question. Some consistency here would be welcome, Redmond.

    These are both business decisions with, arguably, good reasons behind both.

    By focusing on being a trusted cloud provider, is a very good call and aside from being a key sales point in Microsoft's favour, should also help to improve the entire hosted services (cloud) market.

    Windows 10, despite a lot of annoyances (in particular with patchy upgrades and the horrible default security options), is a change of tactic by Microsoft in response to a very real market change, namely that Operating Systems are now just commodity enablers and the value is no longer in the OS itself as it's in the services and applications that run on it. Does the average comsumer or computer user really give that much of a stuff as to what Operating System their computer happens to run on? No, they just want to access certain applications, or types of applications, which for the vast majority of users are a web browser and a word processor of some form and it's useful to note that more and more the word processor is accessed through a web browser. There are exceptions of course, but these are more down to specific requirements such as applications that only run on a given Operating System or even version of the Operating System, largely games and specialist software. So from Microsoft's point of view, the value isn't in the OS, it's in what sits on top of it and in how they can help steer users towards Microsoft's offerings rather than alternatives. If the value of the OS is reducing and the enhancements that can be delivered as part of OS updates are diminishing, then why would users even care to upgrade? They won't, for example the distaste of upgrading from Windows XP onwards as in general user terms the previous OS did what they required. This leaves Microsoft tying to implement their services on a fragmented and messy OS base, which is far from ideal particularly how in the past they have intentionally intermingled application and OS features. Support five different end point OSes or just one? It's an easy choice and I'd make the same call. Getting consumers to upgrade to this OS is a different matter, although my prediction is that after the free upgrade period is over MS will seriously consider extending it "for goodwill reasons", the time pressure of the current fixed date for free upgrades will ensure that a large base of installed users are in place by then and the rest will tend to want to keep up with the masses.

    1. Arctic fox

      @Nick Ryan This post is a rarity on any thread that involves Win 10

      I.e. It involves thinking and analysis based on the article concerned. I am so piss tired of the usual anti-Redmond hatebois piling on and doing their best to completely derail the thread. As far as my own opinion is concerned I would suggest that MS have partly got it, "SatNad's" comments on various occasions seem to indicate that it is at least possible that they have begun to wake up. We will see whether or not they are willing to address various issues (e.g. privacy, "slurping" and control over updates) which although they resonate more with those of us who read this kind of site nonetheless have an important effect on the total image that an OS or a company have. Meanwhile thumbs up for a damn good post.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Nick Ryan This post is a rarity on any thread that involves Win 10

        @Arctic fox:

        Look where Satya Nadella came from within Microsoft: Server & Tools. IT shouldn't be surprising that this is something that actually clicked with business which is what Microsoft is primarily in business to do. Consumer side is almost a side show with having Windows 10 as a nice, stable (for Microsoft) platform to deliver the products that Server & Tools need to have in place. Consistent, deliverable, experiences to use marketing speak.

        I'm not even in the same building (on the same campus/continent, hell Universe?) as all that. Yes, I do quite a bit of 'consuming' but I also do a lot of serious engineering/analytic and as I've seen IT systems develop in that direction, Microsoft isn't a factor. HPC isn't their thang. Barely was in the past.

        Back to tinkering.

  8. LaunchpadBS

    So Google and Microsoft could now be collaborating

    Time to pack it in if you ever want an ounce of privacy, there's always Apple and OSX but....uuughhh.

    Ubuntu here I come, now to make the move from C# to Java/PHP/Python etc

  9. BitDr

    Echoing others...

    Nadella simply realizes that their adverts and lobbying efforts now undermine their own business, full stop.

    "The cloud needs consent". Agreed. Yet Microsoft defaults to cloud storage for Windows 8 & 10. Do users get to give consent? Yes, but the question should be "Is user consent consent to default storage to "the cloud" given with an understanding of what is being asked of them"? To that I would say "No".

    The article claims that Google is behaving like a bulldozer; I have no love for Google, but isn't it Microsoft that's being the bulldozer? Aren't they pushing users to products laced with "telemetry services" *cough*SPYWARE*cough*, pushing their customers to their new data-mining environment by leveraging their (still) monopoly desktop position? It looks to me like a play straight from the days of IE vs Netscape.

    Google, as much as I dislike what they have become, is and has always been exactly what they are; an Internet based company that has products served up remotely from their servers to your browser. The Internet has always been Google's delivery mechanism, indeed they could not exist without it. Microsoft can exist without the Internet.

    Microsoft was never an Internet based company, they empowered people with computing on their desktop. Microsoft was slow to take to the Internet, and when they did, they (ab)used their desktop monopoly position to crush the competition. They then tried to lock customers to their browser and extend control by use of browser-specific extensions. *cough*IE6*cough* Web Pages were (and still are) a bad idea. This ultimately hurt Microsoft. This time their previous strategy and accompanying tactics will rapidly demonstrate to the world how two-faced they really are, which, given that they are no longer indispensable, would be a very bad thing indeed.

    What to do? Bury the hatchet, spin it as evidence of them being a more friendly and willing to compete company, and carry on carrying on. So, has the leopard changed it's spots? No. Has Google? Also no. In the case of Google it simply grew up, from a cute cuddly cub to a dangerous adult carnivore.

  10. LDS Silver badge

    Change of direction, but will it work?

    Nadella may no longer follow a direction that would impact MS as well (being able to download any file on a user PC for "troubleshooting purposes"?? No privacy issue here, eh?), but if his attempts will work if yet to see.

    The push to the cloud has nothing to do with a data-slurping OS - unless it's a move to make you believe there's no difference if your data are local or not. if trust means "equally not trusted", MS will lose from it more than Google, for historical reasons.

    Nadella looks to me like a fly trying to get out a room - it has no real strategy, it just bumps here and there where it see some light, hoping to find a way...

  11. bazza Silver badge

    The Irish Data Centre case has little to do with winning trust. It's all about survival.

    MS's entire cloud business strategy (their win or die strategy) is toast if the FBI win that one. There's nigh on 6 billion potential customers who would be adversely affected by the FBI winning and a massive investment in overseas data centres at risk. MS might not be able to even operate those data centres if the FBI win because of the Catch 22 position they'd be in; it would be impossible to comply with both US and everyone else's law.

    In contrast there's only a tiny 300 million Americans, of whom only a tiny minority would see an FBI win / MS acquiescence as being an appealing characteristic of MS's cloud offering. MS's only way out is to win the case or relocate their entire business outside the USA. To put it bluntly, if your business case is to put the world online in your cloud, ignoring the US is not utterly inconceivable.

    [Apple did something similar with the original iPhones; GSM, because it was global whereas CDMA2000 really was not. They chose GSM as the lowest common denominator; they didn't want to completely ignore the USA. When ATT started deploying their UMTS net Apple could justify a 3G iPhone. MS can and will act along similar lines if forced.]

    The same goes for Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, etc.

    Of those companies, MS, Google, Facebook and Twitter could conceivably move to, say, Canada and almost no one would really notice any difference (apart from the slight problem of .com, .net, .org TLDs being considered by Uncle Sam as being under his jurisdiction no matter where the server is). In contrast Amazon and Apple depend on physical premises to serve their markets, so cannot "leave" the US.

  12. Paul Shirley

    quitting just after they've won? what surprise is that

    Or is it simply that they've succeeded in prodding the EU into attack mode and need to be quiet, in case the EU starts thinking too hard about their involvement.

    They'll be back.

  13. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Is this really Microsofts POV?

    "So from Microsoft's point of view, the value isn't in the OS,"

    - Or is it just the tech market has slid to that view by a combination of OS given away as enabler / gateway to services as with Google or given away or sold at reduced price as hardware/services gateway as with Apple, undermining the value of the OS from under Microsoft, and they've had to adjust.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Is this really Microsofts POV?

      Pretty much, it's about the money and the route to it.

      If you look into Microsoft's financials for quite a long time now, whatever division the Office suite is in is the one that's made the most money. The OS division, while a valuable enabler and lock-in aid, has been making less and less money over time. With other OSes being given away for free, the ability to sell "just" an OS is a harder and harder prospect particularly when the previous OS worked and continues to work fine. Microsoft are also finding this with the Office suite, because any further functionality they add is beyond what most users want or care about therefore selling a new version is becoming harder and harder.

      The result? OSes are effectively free and while Office suites are, for the time being, a source of income as these become more commodotised this income will dry up and they'll become effectively free as well. However just because something isn't sold doesn't mean that it isn't valuable as an enabler for other sales therefore Windows 10, even if given away, has considerable value in pushing Microsoft's services and applications. Take Microsoft Office, currently it's arguably the best office application suite by a reasonable margin, or at the very least has enough remaining lock-in to keep users "loyal", however even this is being eroded by the likes of Google Docs which is given away for free. However both are being used to gently (or not so gently) push users into a cloud subscription - as in a perpetual, regular income.

  14. JLV

    >Microsoft is massively outgunned when it comes to matching Google’s lobbying muscle. Google sponsors more than 150 think tanks and academic departments

    It boggles the mind nowadays, but I remember reading an article about 10-15 years ago where it said that Google had belatedly decided to board the lobbying train. Apparently, at the start, the powers that be @ Google saw little value in lobbying and had little sympathy for obsessive politician back-stroking.

    Then, according to the article, they got to be less naive and realized that it was in their interest to play the game.


    You can blame Google, and other companies, for lobbying. Personally, I mostly choose to blame democratic systems that are set up so that funding lobbyists is part of the cost of doing business. In an ideal world, elections would not be influenced by corporate money. Or by unions. Or special interest groups. It would come down to vote counts only.


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