During the past few months, as we all watched Microsoft’s dismal attempt to take over Yahoo, a couple of things struck me as strange. First, Microsoft has the ability, money and talent to improve their own search engine and to market it themselves. Second, as each failed bid was reported on the Internet, one started to wonder. What happened to the Microsoft of the past that could brow beat a competitor into submission? Was this a kinder, gentler company or are they starting to show their age?

Remember Netscape?  Microsoft didn’t have to buy another company to secure a browser. They built their own and gave it away for free. Sure they incorporated into Windows making it a chore to disembowel, but in short time Netscape was gone. So why couldn’t Microsoft do the same to Google?

I stumbled onto the great article this morning, which also asks some of the same questions I had. In the ABC news article it states:

The old, swaggering Microsoft would have decided that it could win this battle against Google on its own, through a combination of a perpetually upgraded search engine, questionable linkages to existing MS products (such as Vista), raiding talent from Google and Yahoo and strong-arming everyone up and down the distribution and retail chains.

That’s how Microsoft used to rule the tech world, and it left both enemies and friends quaking in their boots. It wasn’t pretty — and some of it might not even have been legal — but that was how MS rolled when it was on top … not groveling to buy some other also-ran.

We also have this strange behavior as well:

For one thing, Microsoft took the bizarre step of mimicking the old “Pepsi Challenge” of the 1980s. The company, in disguise, brought together a group of on-record Vista haters, and asked them to try a new operating system called “Mojave.” According to Microsoft, 90 percent of the Mojave testers professed to having a positive experience with the software. That’s when the Microsoft people, metaphorically, pulled the fake cover off the box and announced, “Ta da! It’s not really Mojave, but Windows Vista/Folger’s Crystals/Pizza Hut!” 

As blogger Christopher Null noted, “Presumably none of the focus group members had to face peripheral incompatibility problems and missing drivers, or watch their old XP computers suddenly slow to a crawl due to Vista’s overbearing resource requirements. Sitting down in front of a powerful machine, configured correctly, and taking an expert-guided tour of Vista isn’t an unpleasurable experience. Vista in the real world is a little different.” 

We also have this:

This much: on Monday, Microsoft’s official Vista team took advantage of its own blog to publicly excoriate the author of the Forrester report, Thomas Mendel, who surveyed 50,000 users to prepare his report, and accuse him of being “sensationalist” and “schizophrenic.” The tech world looked on in stunned disbelief. 

The article continues with a final point being made about Vista being late and how some of the OEM’s lost revenue when Vista didn’t make the X-Mas season release. The article is a good read.

See what you think and share your thoughts.

Comments welcome.