Microsoft Accused of Being Nice?

    October 13, 2005

Wednesday morning, when I awoke to my cat Hypertext using my arm as a scratching post, my sixth sense told me that something, somewhere had shifted overnight.

Living as I do on the far west coast of the continent, my 6AM waking time coincides with the 9AM update of most major news services, conveniently located on the East coast. After struggling to extract Hypertext’s claws (in her defense, my hand must have moved in front of her lair under the bed), I stumbled down the hall to my home office to check the headlines and see exactly what had happened. As it turns out, the techno-map of the Earth did shift a bit between last night and this morning.

Microsoft and Yahoo announced that the wall between their instant messaging clients will come down and that their applications will work together from now on. This is a huge step forward for both Microsoft and Yahoo and is seen by many in the industry as a first stage for more cooperation between the two web-giants.

Ok. The story about Microsoft and Yahoo is easily explainable with the saying, “The friend of my enemy is my friend.” Google just released a proprietary IM client of its own called GoogleTalk. Yahoo and Microsoft might feel the need to start working together to thwart further advancement of the growing Google Empire. That’s not all though.

Earlier this week, Microsoft settled a long-standing legal feud with RealNetworks, the maker of the Real Media Player. RealNetworks filed suit against the Microsoft in late 2003 stating Microsoft forced Windows users to migrate to the Windows Media Player, thus damaging RealNetwork’s business. The settlement, which was announced at a joint press conference between Bill Gates and RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser, will see Microsoft pay RealNetworks $721-million in cash and advertising considerations. It also sets the stage for collaboration between the two software firms in the digital entertainment field.

According to Gates, the two firms have been working for weeks to integrate Real’s Rhapsody music subscription service into MSN search and Instant Messenger software. Real will also supply games for Microsoft sites and provide content to Microsoft’s upcoming release of Xbox Live Arcade online gaming service.

A third series of stories circulating this week says Microsoft lawyers are approaching lawyers for several states to settle lingering anti-trust cases. These stories, when put together, paint the picture of a kinder, gentler Microsoft. A more likely story is, Microsoft is clearly feeling the heat from upstart rival Google and is trying to use the settlements to forge agreements that will strengthen its position in the long run.

Jim Hedger is the SEO Manager of StepForth Search Engine Placement Inc. Based in Victoria, BC, Canada, StepForth is the result of the consolidation of BraveArt Website Management, Promotion Experts, and Phoenix Creative Works, and has provided professional search engine placement and management services since 1997. Tel – 250-385-1190 Toll Free – 877-385-5526 Fax – 250-385-1198