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Darren Waters

Waiting for Ballmer

  • Darren Waters
  • 2 May 08, 08:15 GMT

Forget counting ballot papers for the local elections. The big result everyone is waiting for concerns Microsoft and Yahoo.

And what everyone wants to know is: Will Microsoft make a decision and do something?

Steve BallmerAfter setting a deadline of last weekend for Yahoo to agree to Microsoft's offer, reasonable people expected that MS would move quickly this week.

But there's been no word yet.

As my colleague Rory said on Twitter this morning: "Come on Microsoft, this is getting really tedious."

And why is everyone impatient?

It feels a little like the future of the web is on hold while MS makes up its mind what to do next.

Will our online future be decided by two companies (MS and Google) or three?

The Wall Street Journal is now predicting a hostile bid today. Steve Ballmer told staff yesterday that a decision would be "in short order".

He also said MS wouldn't pay a dime more than he thought Yahoo was worth.

Few people, if any, think MS will walk away from this. Even though Ballmer told staff on Thursday he was willing to drop the pursuit of Yahoo.

And the main reason that few commentators believe him is that this is Steve Ballmer's bid, as much as it is Microsoft's.

As Bill Gates prepares to step away from MS day to day, this is the defining action of the future Microsoft.

Like everyone else, I'm just hoping this defining action comes soon.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    "It feels a little like the future of the web is on hold while MS makes up its mind what to do next."

    Are you kidding? Two old companies that are becoming increasingly irrelevant battling a potentially hostile takeover?

    Darren, I've got some news for you - there are many companies out there that are much more relevant than these two dinosaurs.

    Microsoft sells badly coded software, Vista is a disaster and their market results proved that (11% fall in profits). Steve Ballmer is a complete laughing stock, and is looking more like an Emperor with new clothes with each passing day.

    Yahoo, well I can't remember the last time anyone said "can you Yahoo this for me?", everyone and anyone uses Google. They are another relic from the past, and quite frankly no one really understands why Microsoft want to buy them so badly, apart from the fact they need them to prop up their 'Live Search' which is another 'me-too' product from the champions of mediocrity.

  • Comment number 2.

    "Are you kidding? Two old companies that are becoming increasingly irrelevant battling a potentially hostile takeover?

    Darren, I've got some news for you - there are many companies out there that are much more relevant than these two dinosaurs."

    OK, so the world has been becoming increasingly disenamoured with Microsoft for a long time now, and Yahoo aren't the innovators of their Googlian cousins, but they're both still mammoths in their field, and are still a long way from becoming irrelevant. yahoo.com, for example, is still the most visited website on the web, as it has been for a long time. That's got to be appealling to a prospective buyer.

    Combine these two behemoths and, while they don't have the innovation, or even morality of Google, they have the muscle to give them a run for their money.

  • Comment number 3.

    It's worth remembering that while Yahoo haven't done much in the way of innovating lately, they do have a few interesting properties (Flickr being the most obvious) that Microsoft may be keen to get hold of.

    Overall, though, I don't think that Microsoft+Yahoo! will be any more of a force to be reckoned with than they are as two separate entities -- getting hold of Yahoo wouldn't make Microsoft's core business any more profitable or marketable, and at best it'll just mean their web advertising revenues could be combined.

    Really this is a non-story -- whether the bid is successful or not, nothing in userland is liable to change noticeably, and it's only accountants and marketing people who are going to really care one way or the other...

  • Comment number 4.

    "OK, so the world has been becoming increasingly disenamoured with Microsoft for a long time now, and Yahoo aren't the innovators of their Googlian cousins, but they're both still mammoths"

    Exactly my point - they are mammoths.

    Definition of a Mammoth:
    noun
    a large extinct elephant of the Pleistocene epoch, typically hairy with a sloping back and long curved tusks.

    In other words, they are slow, too big to react and increasingly irrelevant.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    Microsoft has shown itself to be a ruthless and cynical monopoly, which can't or won't give users what they require.

    So while I'd be happy for them to shoot themselves in the foot, I'd be more concerned about the concentration of market share.

    It's good for users for there to be competition between alternative providers. Microsoft's history has been one of engulfing rivals then stifling them. I'd hate to see them take over the mass-market web...

  • Comment number 7.

    Always wondered how Microsoft would fall, this is the start. I’m waiting for Google to bring out a good Operating System. Then it’s bye-bye MS…..

  • Comment number 8.

    I hated MS ever since the launch of XP, until now. Most people that shout out how bad MS are, generally are experienced PC users with an abundance of knowledge about software and different operating systems etc.

    It has taken me a long time to realise that the reason Microsoft is such a large and powerful company is that, contrary to what most commentators say about MS, Microsoft actually do give people what they want. Not IT people like most bloggers and IT experts, but rather the humble user, the aunt, uncle, daughter, wife or husband out there who doesnt want to know about computers, just wants to use a computer as a tool to achieve other aims.

    As for the soon to start search engine wars, Microsoft will win this if it sticks to giving the user what they want, a search engine that returns results of a search, not returns the search as modified by who pays google the most.

    If MS can do for search what Office 2007 has done for Office suite software then look out Google

    Go for it MS

  • Comment number 9.

    People forget that Yahoo has been investing heavily in web technologies for the last decade. A significant sector of their business is to do with emerging technologies that they have developed that won't see mass appeal for the next couple of years. Microsoft wants in on this, not their web search.

    It is also worth noting that Yahoo may not be the greatest web search here in the Uk but when you look at the figures they have a global reach, with something like a 40% market share of the US search engine market and a 25% share in China.

    Emerging markets in India, South America and Asia will decide the future of technology companies like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Intel, etc. I think this merger would help the long terms prospects of both companies. I believe that Yahoo will see a resurgence into the popular consciousness worldwide over the next two years given the developments it has been working on. Remember that Google is only the golden kid at the moment, it may not last another 5 years in the top spot, especially with the emerging themes in web development.

  • Comment number 10.

    It's not about technology. What MS needs is signed-up customers who might just deliver a continuing service revenue (Think it through: post Vista MS _know_ that not many people are going to keep paying for new operating systems and office suites which just consume more resources).

    So its services like the Yahoo Lists - which bring millionsof signed-up people - that MS is after.

    All they have to do then is (a) force them to watch adverts or (b) persuade them to pay subscription fees or (c) charge them fees to avoid having adverts thrust at them.

    Think MS can do this well enough to replace the operating system revenues up to XP? Me neither.

  • Comment number 11.

    They're both hardly antiquated as TwelveEightyOne seem's to insist. As previously stated Yahoo is still the most visited site on the web. As it holds that place its revenue from advertising is substancially higher than Googles. This is an attractive prospect for Microsoft.

    Despite your personal preferences on what you use to search, I still use Yahoo given that it provides a wealth of more information and news. This makes it an altogether more appealing search engine to visit than the bland Google. I'm quite interested in how MS would change Yahoo should any buyout take place. If you don't care, don't comment.

  • Comment number 12.

    Is Yahoo still going? Why would anyone want to pay good money for a glorified on-line version of "Loot" magazine?

    Maybe Microsoft could ask Time-Warner about buying up AoL if this falls through.

  • Comment number 13.

    Well, my friends, both the Microsoft and Yahoo are relicts. If you take a look to a growing number of Open Source operational system, and give a try to a Linux like Mandriva or Ubuntu, you'll understand why is Windows a relict from the past:
    1. Ubuntu> new versions every 6 months with the latest technologies.
    2. A world without viruses.
    3. Free software for almost all purposes.
    4. Stability

    If somebody gives a try to Linux, have a little patience and openness to learn few new things, he will never return to Windows. I know, I was a Windows-user.

    I don't remember when did I "Yahooed" something. Nobody uses Yahoo as a browser. It's good for free mail accounts, but that's it!

  • Comment number 14.

    Yahoo isnt Google and that is the point isnt it?

    Yes we use Google for search, but what about other Google products? I am sure most of the people reading this blog havent used adwords or dont own websites making money from Adsense. How many of you use Google Analytics or Sitemaps?

    Thats the point. There is territory to be conquered away from just the 'search' space and that is what MS are looking to achieve.

    The Yahoo brand is huge and wont disappear should MS buy the company.

  • Comment number 15.

    I wouldn't say the world revolves around Yahoo and Microsoft. Well not Yahoo anyway; an alternative is only a click away. Given the history of software and the internet, most likely a hugely popular alternative is already being created by a 21-year-old in his parents' garage.

    Microsoft is a bit different because it does have a physical product that people can "touch" and own (or lease). But alternatives to that already exist, e.g. Apple and Linux.

    Microsoft programs are indeed imperfect and cumbersome, but they're like American-made cars in the 1960s: you more or less understand how they work and where they will fail, and you can get from point A to point B, and the competition is some tiny European sportscar where you have to work on cars yourself to enjoy.

  • Comment number 16.

    Google and morality? ...... since when?

  • Comment number 17.

    Isn't this all about advertising? Now Google own DoubleClick I think MS is getting scared of bring left out in the cold.

    Yahoo has teamed up with Google also to offer a joint advertising venture.

    Google's entire business model is built on advertising, we get free and fantastic services and web applications. These are funded by advertising.

    Microsoft asks us to (in the main) pay a lot of money for its products. Eventually - like any huge force - Microsoft will turn its business model around to the new way, but because of its [Microsofts] size, it will take a long time.

    In the mean time smaller more nimble companies will seize the advantage and perhaps it will be too late for Microsoft.

  • Comment number 18.

    "It has taken me a long time to realise that the reason Microsoft is such a large and powerful company is that, contrary to what most commentators say about MS, Microsoft actually do give people what they want. Not IT people like most bloggers and IT experts, but rather the humble user, the aunt, uncle, daughter, wife or husband out there who doesnt want to know about computers, just wants to use a computer as a tool to achieve other aims."

    Perfect. I don't think that I've heard someone word that, that well.

    I personally find it hard to imagine the two together as one. They're both so different and diverse in their own way. We'll just have to see how this goes I suppose.

  • Comment number 19.

    " Microsoft actually do give people what they want"!
    Most people who use Apple products wouldn't agree with the above statement, If you'd never see a car you would claim a bicycle was the best form of transport!
    How would anyone know otherwise? How many other people have used anything other than Microsoft products?
    I for one, will cease using Yahoo the second Microsoft get their grubby little hands on it, Microsoft will only use it to sell your details on and violate your privacy.

  • Comment number 20.

    "...Microsoft actually do give people what they want. Not IT people like most bloggers and IT experts, but rather the humble user, the aunt, uncle, daughter, wife or husband out there who doesnt want to know about computers, just wants to use a computer as a tool to achieve other aims."

    Personally I disagree.

    There are considerably better solutions out there for people who want to use the computer as a tool to accomplish their tasks without having the idiosyncrasies and awkwardness of the operating system getting in the way.

    In my experience, Windows is a pain for the average "humble user" - the mother, the Uncle, etc - who, more often than not, require some IT-savvy relative to sort them out when things go wrong as - they invariably do.

    "It just works"? I don't think so!

    It seems to me that a great many people use MS's solution simply because they know no different - it's the dominant OS and their systems come loaded with it. Essentially they're using it out of ignorance without realising that there are alternatives out there that are considerably more intuitive, less clunky and prompt much less hassle - ideal for those humble users.

  • Comment number 21.

    It looks like its all over according to a press statement on the Microsoft website. The news appeared very briefly on BBC News 24 - oh no wait sorry I forgot I should never ever mention that - the BBC News Channel.

    I think Yahoo has done very well for its self online and Microsoft has done very well for its self offline. I think that they would have made a good match online and a good rival for Google, however I agree the Microsoft is a bit of a sponge when it comes to these matters and Yahoo would be far more agile on its own.

    JDE

 

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