01.14.09

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Yahoo: The Biggest Threat Comes from the Inside

Posted in Mail, Microsoft at 9:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A lesson learned from the security sector

Little dragon

ARE WE SEEING YAHOO ‘taken over’ from the inside? A little more than before maybe? It’s hard to say with sufficient certainty, but it does not look encouraging. A couple of days ago we wrote about the inheritance of Jerry Yang's chair. Sue Decker fought away a hostile takeover. She staved off the bids from Microsoft along with Jerry Yang and she competed for the role of CEO against Carol Bartz.

Bartz worked for a Microsoft partner, Autodesk, which is a promoter of lock-in and even software patents (they cross-licensed with Microsoft not so long ago). She will soon become the CEO of Yahoo and this is problematic because:

Autodesk, known for its computer-assisted design software, happens to be a longtime Microsoft partner, so the choice may stir new speculation about a possible Yahoo-Microsoft search deal.

Microsoft’s principal mouthpiece in CNET is already yapping about a Microsoft-Yahoo transaction.

“It depends on their offer,” said a source familiar with the board’s thinking. “If they were to come to (Yahoo) with an offer of $33 a share, (the company) would be stupid if to say ‘no’ now.”

For Microsoft to touch Yahoo would be difficult because it’s a thing that may pose a dilemma; for starters, Microsoft would enter deeper debt [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], but more importantly, Microsoft would take Yahoo’s business to the cleaners, just like it always does. As the following post demonstrated a few days ago, “Microsoft is not a web company.”

I want to talk about Microsoft’s web strategy. But Microsoft is a huge company, with a lot of parallel activities in this space, and there are so many angles from which you can approach the subject. So I’ve decided to focus on a single, instructive example: the front page of Microsoft.com.

Disclaimer: this is a cheap shot. I know it is. A single HTML page does not embody the entirety of Microsoft’s strategic direction and corporate culture. I’m also subjecting it to rigorous scrutiny of the kind few web pages get. Nevertheless, Microsoft.com is one of the most popular destinations on the Internet and they are trying to make a name for themselves in the web space and they do have a gigantic budget which they could expend on their front page.

Here’s where my journey began, and what started my investigation that led to this post. This is the front page of Microsoft.com, rendered in Firefox (v3.0.5, Windows XP). This and all subsequent screenshots are cropped; click for the full capture.

Microsoft never designed software with the Internet in mind. The Internet scared it because it threatened its dominant position. In 1993, Bill Gates said: “The Internet? We are not interested in it.” In fact, several years ago, a senior Windows executive said: “Our products just aren’t engineered for security.”

One reader tells us that “the transition from the outgoing US administration is an utter catastrophe in regards to e-mail. Everything from astronomical volumes of files to lost material to multiple, conflicting versions of what should have been the same document.”

“So while VBA, Access and Windows on the “voting machines” helped get us into this mess, Microsoft Exchange will help prevent getting it sorted.”

Can Microsoft ever be trusted with any of Yahoo’s Web properties, given the mess which is MSN or Hotmail, for example?

“You don’t need to buy the company, just destroy them and then take their business.”

Duncan ‘Dragons Den’ Bannatyne

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8 Comments

  1. aeshna23 said,

    January 14, 2009 at 10:37 am

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    What is so tragic about this is that if Yahoo becomes Microsoft, it will drive tragic to Google. And Google needs competition so it doesn’t become evil like Microsoft.

  2. Bob said,

    January 14, 2009 at 11:58 am

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    @aeshna23: I don’t disagree that Google like every business needs competition but you cannot put them in the same category as Microsoft. Gates was a psychopath in the beginning as now. The founders of Google set out to “do no evil” unlike MS who set out to steal every line of code they could and to claim ownership of it all regardless of origin. OTOH if MS do take over Yahoo it will bring closer to their necessary day of reckoning after which they just might end up being run by humans.

  3. Diamond Wakizashi said,

    January 14, 2009 at 11:58 am

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    Microshit is desperate to increase their search market share.

    http://www.geekculture.com/joyoftech/joyimages/1109.gif

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 14, 2009 at 12:01 pm

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    Bob raises an important point. Microsoft was a dumpster diver from day one (literally, re: dumpster-diving). It also stole and deceived to get its way.

    There is no knight and no white horse.

  5. Needs Sunlight said,

    January 14, 2009 at 2:08 pm

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    Yahoo is a major contributor to development of PHP and FreeBSD. The noise about search engines is mostly just that. The real valuable target are these two. Juniper (now 0wn3d by M$) and Cisco (often dancing with M$) are two big networking companies that use FreeBSD.

    There are other tools when these are gone, but would stupid to stand by and let MS take these out. Losing these will allow MS to concentrate that much harder on Java, Perl, Python and Linux, Solaris, OpenBSD.

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 14, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Gravatar

    Cisco started dancing with Microsoft (again) today:

    Cisco and Intel Fund Learning-assessment Project

    http://www.pcworld.com/article/157027/microsoft_cisco_and_intel_fund_learningassessment_project.html?tk=rss_new

  7. Needs Sunlight said,

    January 14, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Gravatar

    Gates has always had a reputation for disregard for the law and, in business, especially for stealing. Larry Ellison, Gary Kildall and others have had a lot to say.

    If you can find some early biographies, they talk about how he stole computing time (a valuable resource then) from the computing center for early business scams.

  8. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 14, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Gravatar

    That’s well documented.

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