5. From Rebel to Lumbering Giant
Microsoft started out as the plucky disruptor that popularized the PC graphical user interface through wide distribution and lower pricing compared with Apple's Macintosh OS. In a similar vein, Google was able to dominate search thanks to its amazingly relevant search results and its bare-bones homepage that featured the search box and nothing else.
Google's uncluttered front door and its eerie ability to deliver highly relevant results distinguished it from competitors such as Ask, MSN, and Yahoo, all of which sported incredibly busy home pages, provided less-relevant results, and failed to make a clear distinction between sponsored ads and regular search results.
But as each company has dominated its respective industry, each has had to deal with the transition from fast-moving startup to technology behemoth.
Microsoft was supposed to produce a slew of updates to its Windows Phone 7 devices in early 2011, but at the time of this writing it had yet to release even one update since introducing Windows Phone 7 in October. Google is trying to escape Microsoft's fate by reinjecting a startup mentality into the company. Many observers believe that this is part of the reason Google is shaking up its management structure by removing Eric Schmidt as CEO in favor of Google cofounder Larry Page.
6. Trust Us
Believe it or not, Microsoft, not Google, was once seen as the big, scary technology company trying to steal your data. In 1999, Microsoft had to address suspicions that the National Security Agency had a backdoor into Windows that allowed the NSA to peek at users' encrypted data. Then, in 2001, Microsoft revealed a big plan for its Passport universal sign-in feature, which would store each user's name, password, address, e-mail address, and credit card credentials online to encourage people to shop on the Web. The Passport plan was met with fierce opposition, however, because no one wanted to trust Microsoft with their data.
Today, Google is dealing with all kinds of privacy concerns over Google Street View's taking pictures of people's homes, Google's recent Wi-Fi sniffing snafu, the company's saving of search histories, the Google Buzz privacy breach, and on and on. And, oh yeah: Google has also had its fair share of accusations about dealings with the NSA.
7. Hooked on Googlesoft
Want to get people to use your stuff and forget about going with the competition? Just pile some basic tools into your platform that are handy and free. Microsoft first bundled Internet Explorer with Windows to battle Netscape. Other tools packed into Windows include MSN Messenger, WordPad, and integration with Hotmail--and who can forget MSN Explorer for that AOL-like experience? Google has taken Microsoft's free-software strategy to the extreme with Google Docs, Gmail, Google Translate, Google Voice, Calendar, and Google Maps turn-by-turn navigation in Android. Google has also been accused of favoring its own products--such as Google Maps and YouTube--in its search results.
Next: Competition Crusher