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Microsoft and Google

From the August Zeitgeist…

Tensions between Microsoft and Google have long been simmering; here we look at Microsoft’s recent moves and effects they are having on its brand.

On 29th July, Yahoo! and Microsoft announced a search deal in an attempt to compete with Google, though it seems a fair bet to say the latter will benefit in the short-term as the two companies spend time integrating. Microsoft is talking up its upcoming operating system, unimaginatively titled “Windows 7” and promoting its new Internet Explorer with a graphic commercial, that anyone watching won’t soon forget, although it’s unclear what Microsoft is trying to say about its brand or audience here.

Windows Vista has proved a disappointment; Reuters reported that many companies thought it “unstable”. The newswire service now reports that according to a recent survey, 60% of companies surveyed will not be upgrading to Windows 7.

On July 8th, TechCrunch led with “Google drops a nuclear bomb on Microsoft. And it’s made of Chrome”. In 2010 Google will launch an open-source, lightweight OS – at first on netbooks – in an “attempt to re-think what operating systems should be”. Google pointedly note that current Oss “that browsers run on were designed in an era when there was no web”, makes it even more painful. TechCrunch points out, “What Google is doing is not recreating a new kind of OS, they’re creating the best way to not need one at all”.

The ever-impartial Bill Gates is quoted in Brand Republic saying the Chrome OS is “nothing new”, noting that the fact that Chrome is both an operating system and a browser shows how broad the term ‘browser’ has become.

“The more vague they are, the more interesting it is… It just shows the word browser has become a truly meaningless word… In large part, it’s more an abuse of terminology than a real change.”

Perhaps product differentiation rather than pedantry would have benefitted Microsoft’s brand more? The battle of browsers, operating systems, and words, continues.

The new search deal means that strategies for digital campaigns must now increasingly be thought of in the context of Bing/Yahoo! algorithms and SEO, as well as Google. It also gives clients more choice and flexibility, as Sir Martin Sorrell noted: “It is very welcome for our clients as it brings more balance to the search marketplace and may moderate pricing.”

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