Friday, February 01, 2008

Holy Cow

Microsoft Makes 44.6 Billion Dollar Bid for Yahoo!

As far as big news on a day I take off from work (terrorist attacks, shuttle explosion), this is rather tame.

I don't know what to think... I guess really the only thing I disliked about Yahoo! was its name. Yahoo! actually owns two products (they didn't create themselves, just purchased) that I do pay money for enhanced versions of - Flickr and LaunchCast.

Now, Microsoft... I'm not sure why, but I like Microsoft. I mean, I like Google better. Microsoft makes web products that are so bloated they eventually become useless (Messenger, Hotmail, Internet Explorer) and their design is always so heavy and clunky. They take something (backgrounds with a gradient) and run them into the ground. I keep wanting Microsoft to get it, with all the great examples (to name two, here and here) but they keep not getting it.

Yeah, I know that's one-sided, comparing everyone's favorite cute little kitten, Apple, against the big mean fatcat, Microsoft, but I think it's still doable. Apple has (as Joel says above) has a culture, or at least a cohesive face. Microsoft doesn't. And what it does isn't pretty. It would require a seachange and a lot of patience to make Microsoft look different. Maybe merging MSN into Yahoo! and keeping the Yahoo! look and feel online won't last. Would that ever happen? Doubtful, Microsoft seems to be a very proud company and there's a lot of overlap between MSN and Yahoo!, and you have to think they'd keep the MSN version in any head-to-head, even if it were the inferior product.

Maybe I like Microsoft because of my home-team rule. (The Home-Team rule says you must cheer for the home team because this is your home. I hate it when people blab on and on about a sports team from where they used to live. Love it so much? Go back there. College students are exempted from the rule because they may just be long-term visitors.)

But I'd like to see Microsoft do well. It'd be an uphill fight against the common public opinion. As with everything, yeah, you gotta do things well, but more than anything, you gotta have style and you gotta have excellent marketing chops. Leopard has more flaws and virus vulnerabilities than Vista. But people are paying serious money for "point revision" upgrades to Leopard... it works. Vista apparently doesn't. And that's just sad.

C'mon, Microsoft. It's time for a change. Use Yahoo! to slingshot yourself. Protect Yahoo! from the bad Microsoft culture while designing something brand new that picks the best from both while leaving the bad behind.
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