With much marketing bravado and fanfare, Microsoft has officially launched its rejiggered MSN Search.
First reaction: "Wow, it looks a lot like Google!" Coincidence?
Question: have any of Microsoft's major products ever resulted from an innovation that Microsoft either invented (as IBM invented the relational model) or at least popularized (as Apple popularized the graphical user interface with the original Mac)? As far as I can tell, Microsoft has never really invented a new product. Rather it takes other companies' good ideas as a starting point and uses its world-class user-centered design methodologies to improve them. Or in the case of truly entrenched competitors, they bundle them with Windows for free.
But the ultimate question is, does this matter to customers and stockholders? I don't know. I am a Microsoft customer since I use several Microsoft products like Windows, Word, and Excel primarily because those are what came with my Thinkpad, and I am too lazy to replace Windows with Linux and too cheap to buy a Mac. From a bottom-line perspective, Microsoft's stockholders must surely prefer that Microsoft "embrace and extend" their way to massive profits rather than inventing and failing to capitalize on a new idea, as the massively innovative Xerox Parc thinktank continuously did in the 1970's.
I actually have a lot of respect for the engineers at Microsoft. Some of my professional heroes like Dave Cutler and Clemens Szyperski work there, and I've learned more about distributed computing through the writings of Don Box than through any other source. But sometimes the attitude and tactics of the Redmond marketing machine get under my skin.
Speaking of which, according to this blog, "[MSN Search is] the biggest global campaign since the introduction of the MSN butterfly".
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