10 Google Weaknesses Microsoft Is Obsessed With

Google's An Enterprise Newbie

Google has been winning some large-scale Google Docs deals, but Microsoft knows it's got much more of an established foothold in the enterprise. Microsoft says it has around 40 million paying enterprise customers, compared to less than a million for Google. And despite Google's recent tune-up of Google Docs, Microsoft isn't worried about Google stealing any of its enterprise market share.

"Large corporations are going to the cloud with Microsoft," Chris Capossela, senior vice president of Microsoft Business Division, told USA Today in April. "Google has no track record in the enterprise, whereas we've earned our stripes in the enterprise."

Translation: Don't get all uppity, Google, just because you've managed to get a couple decent-size Docs deals.

Google Buzz: A Bull In The China Closet Of Privacy

Google Buzz, the search giant's answer to Facebook and Twitter that uses Gmail as a social networking hub, sparked a massive wave of fear and loathing from users that were spooked by its privacy infringing implications.

In a March keynote at the South by Southwest conference, Danah Boyd, a social media researcher with Microsoft Research, carefully enumerated Google's privacy missteps with Buzz. "More and more technology companies are thinking it's OK to expose people, and then backtracking a couple weeks later when people are flipping out," Boyd said at the event.

Microsoft, by virtue of its partnerships with Facebook and Twitter, has positioned itself in the thick of the social networking space. With Google Buzz, Google was trying to bite off more than it could chew, and it was rightfully smacked down for its cheekiness.

Still, the incident did allow Microsoft to establish an ethical high ground and set the tone for what privacy should mean in a socially networked world.

Google Docs And The Offline Experience

On May 3, Google suspended offline access to Google Docs through its Google Gears Web browser plug-in. Google says it's planning to bring the offline Docs functionality back using HTML5 but hasn't yet provided a timetable for doing so.

Google still offers offline access for Gmail and Google Calendar, but Microsoft, which preaches the religion of Software Plus Services, didn't miss the opportunity to gloat.

"Given that 75% of the world’s population does not have an internet connection and last year over 760 Million passengers boarded a flight in the U.S. alone, does Google really believe no offline is the future of productivity and collaboration?" Andrew Kisslo, the senior productivity manager for Microsoft Office, said in a blog post.

Google's Mobile Hubris

When Google unveiled its Nexus One smartphone in January, it was widely seen as a product aimed at changing the carrier-centric status quo in the wireless business.

Microsoft was quick to claim that the Nexus One could upset Google's mobile industry partners. Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices division, said Google would have a tough time convincing partners that it wasn't prioritizing Nexus One over other Android based handsets. "Doing both [software and hardware] in the way they are trying to do both is actually very, very difficult," Bach told The Telegraph(U.K.) in January. "Google’s announcement sends a signal where they’re going to place their commitment."

Microsoft's mobile strategy has been a shambles, but the software giant can also point to the fragmentation that's going on with Android and claim that Windows Phone, slated to reach the market in the vaguely defined "later this year" timeframe, won't be susceptible to this phenomenon.

Google's 'Broken' Keyword Search Model

Microsoft has been running television advertisements that suggest today's search engines -- cough Google cough -- aren't accurate enough and subject their users to "information overload," a peculiar affliction that results in folks babbling incoherently in response to ordinary questions.

It's debatable whether Google is actually broken and in need of fixing, but Microsoft is spending as much as $100 million in marketing to crystallize this notion in the minds of Web users. Microsoft is also adding functionality to Bing to chip away at the 65 percent share of the search market that Google commands. Bing has Wolfram Alpha integration and some Facebook integration, and Bing Maps is one of the most impressive demos Microsoft has come out with in some time.

Microsoft still has a lot of work to do in furthering the notion that the Bing "decision engine" offers key advantages over Google, but you have to admire Microsoft's chutzpah in attempting to slay such a dominant beast.

Security Issues With Chrome Browser

Microsoft was none too pleased last September when Google launched Chrome Frame, a plug-in that allows the Chrome browser to run inside of Internet Explorer and was designed for companies that were, for a number of really lame organizational reasons, still stuck using IE6.

Microsoft's initial response was that Google Chrome Frame doubled the attack surface for IE. Later, Microsoft's security team unearthed an actual security flaw in the plug-in, which Google had no choice but to acknowledge.

Microsoft doesn't have the industry's best security track record, but it's confident in the security advances it has made in IE8. According to Microsoft, IE8 is five times better than the Chrome browser in protecting against malware and three times better than Chrome in protecting users from phishing attacks.

The methodology behind these claims is unclear, but repeat something often enough and some people will start to believe it.

Google Has Less Experience In Health Care

Microsoft and Google are also duking it out in the personal health record (PHR) space, although the two sides usually downplay the competition angle in this market segment.

But for privacy reasons, Google can't bring to bear advertising, its biggest asset and one that contributes to 97 percent of the company's annual revenue. So how is it going to make money here? It's a question that Google hasn't really answered. Instead, Google's tone is one of altruism and how the greater good will be served. Microsoft, meanwhile, has a fully evolved health-care business and what amounts to a significant head start on Google. Microsoft also has more health-care industry partnerships, both in number and in significance, than Google. This hasn't escaped the notice of some health-care industry watchers who've criticized Google recently for not committing more resources to its health-care initiatives.

There's room for both Microsoft and Google in the PHR space, but health care is looking like an example of Microsoft's deeper partnership experience winning out.

Google PowerMeter's Lack Of A Business Model

Home energy measurement and management is another emerging front in the Microsoft-Google battle. Microsoft Hohm and Google PowerMeter share many of the same features and functionality and are, in a broad sense, seeking to address the same energy-saving goals.

However, right now Microsoft has the clear edge when it comes to actually making money in this market segment. With PowerMeter, Google is forming partnerships with utilities but is taking its time hammering out a business model. PowerMeter is free, and from the tone of Google's FAQ for the service, it's going to stay that way for awhile.

"There are also no charges or fees to utilities or energy monitoring device makers that use the Google PowerMeter API. We are committed to building and maintaining an open platform for Google PowerMeter," reads the FAQ.

Microsoft Hohm is currently available as a free, advertising-supported service, but the software giant is aggressively going after partners and has indicated it has every intention of monetizing its investments in this space.

Google Doesn't Have A Sharepoint

Sharepoint is an $1 billion business for Microsoft, and channel partners with Sharepoint expertise are running around like madmen and madwomen trying to keep up with demand for Sharepoint related services. Microsoft has also woven Sharepoint into the fabric of other products like Outlook and Office to provide higher levels of functionality.

Right now, Google doesn't have anything that comes close to doing what Sharepoint does, both from a customer standpoint and a corporate strategy standpoint. Google Sites, Google Wave and even Google Buzz have functionality that touches Sharepoint, but it's safe to say Microsoft isn't losing much sleep over these offerings.

Google hasn't yet proven it can succeed in the enterprise on a scale close to what Microsoft has done. If Google does want a piece of this action, though, coming up with a product as flexible and useful as Sharepoint would be a good place to start.

Chrome OS And The Printing Challenges

Unlike traditional operating systems, Google's Chrome OS won't come with print drivers. Google appears to think that in the cloud computing world, there's just no place for these clunky relics of the computing industry's past, especially given the broad range of devices Chrome OS could end up powering. Instead, Google says printing in Chrome OS will be handled in the cloud.

Google's Cloud Print service is still in development, but it promises to allow any application (Web, desktop, or mobile) on any device to print to any printer. But putting Chrome OS users' print data in the cloud will open Google to security and privacy issues, and it's unclear if Cloud Print's APIs will be rich enough to handle unique printer features like print quality, ink saving modes and manual feeding of media. Uninterrupted connectivity, as with all things cloud, is also assumed.

Whether it will address the printing question in Chrome OS remains to be seen, but rest assured that Microsoft will be ready to pounce at the first hint of trouble with the service.