Microsofts Internet Presence

    October 11, 2005

Many constantly hail new developments by Google and Yahoo. Nearly every day, the two companies offer some sort of new development for their portal services. Some industry watchers have counted Microsoft out of the Internet market for the most part, suggesting they’re choosing to bow out of the war. Here’s the secret though, they’ve already won the Internet war.

An editorial recently written by Preston Gralla suggested Google and Yahoo dominate the internet in such a way that Microsoft has been left by the way side and they’ve basically dropped out of the internet race for the most part. Certainly Gralla’s an authority on the industry but I would argue against his point to a certain extent.

Google and Yahoo do innovate constantly, coming out with new services, tools and products almost daily. But Microsoft really, already won this war several years ago when the squashed Netscape. To your average internet user, the internet is the browser and the browser of choice overwhelmingly is Internet Explorer, a Microsoft tool.

While there are other browsers, recent figures suggest they’re not getting anywhere. Mozilla’s Firefox, for example, lost market share two out of the last three months. The market share of other browsers is quite small, in most cases holding down 2% or less of the total market share of the browser market. But, if one doesn’t consider browsers in the same vein, then let’s look at other features.

Right now, Yahoo is the most trafficked site on the internet, bar none. MSN, AOL, eBay and MySpace are next. Google isn’t in the top 5. AOL keeps their users using their products longest, followed by Yahoo and MSN. MSN isn’t number one but they’re certainly not last and they always finish well.

Now consider the distinct possibility Microsoft may pick up a 50% share in AOL. That would certainly change the dynamics of the situation vastly. Google would lose a huge percentage of their search traffic. Microsoft would add a ton of media content and all the metrics would be thrown out. If MSN and AOL were combined, that would probably give them the dominant traffic share; time spent using a site’s tools; and (here’s the bold part of this) Google would lose a huge portion of their search market and a near equilibrium would reached between Google, Yahoo and MSN in the search market.

Finally, consider where Microsoft is going. While the operating system is integral, so is the home entertainment system they’ve been developing. Microsoft worked on WebTV for years. They’ve been hammering away at the software for IPTV with a variety of companies AND this is the real direction of their Xbox360 program. It or some future version will be an all-encompassing home entertainment system for surfing the net, watching DVDs, playing games, listening to music and quite possibly a receiver for cable television. Combine that with oodles of possible content from AOL and others and they’ve got the complete home entertainment entity with a variety of online services they offer.

Yahoo and Google both work vigorously, improving their tools. But as one writer put it a few weeks ago, as long as Microsoft controls the choke point, namely the operating system and IE, then they will ALWAYS win any conceivable battle.

John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.