Google, searching, how much data, microsoft

Will Microsoft challenge Google in the search wars? In the article “What’s Next for Google,” Charles H. Ferguson discusses the possibilitites http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/05/01/issue/ferguson0105.asp?p=1
Whoever wins the standards/architecture battle will win the search war. Microsoft has deep pockets and a record of winning this type of battle. However, it doesn’t always win (ex. Adobe, esp. PhotoShop) and it has become a bit of a slow moving behemoth.
” Thus, while Google provides an ex­cellent service for searching the public Web and has made a good start on PCs with Google Desktop (the hard-drive search tool) and Google Deskbar (which performs searches without launching a browser), the search universe as a whole remains a mess, full of unexplored territories and mutually exclusive zones that a common architecture would unify.”
“Microsoft effectively disbanded the Internet Explorer group after killing Netscape,” [an anonymous MS exec] said. “But recently, they realized that Firefox was starting to gain share and that browser enhancements would be useful in the search market.” He agreed that if Microsoft got “hard-core” about search (as Bill Gates has promised), then, yes, Google would be in for a very rough time. ”
” Why? Because in contrast to Microsoft, Google doesn’t yet control standards for any of the platforms on which this contest will be waged—not even for its own website. Although Google has released noncommercial APIs—which programmers may use for their own purposes, but not in commercial products—until recently, it avoided the creation of commercial APIs.” It may feel it does not need to. The author believes this would be a mistake. Or, it may feel they are not the most important concern. ” There is, however, another possibility: Google understands that an architecture war is coming, but it wants to delay the battle. One Google executive told me that the company is well aware of the possibility of an all-out platform war with Microsoft. According to this executive, Google would like to avoid such a conflict for as long as possible and is therefore hesitant to provide APIs that would open up its core search engine services, which might be interpreted as an opening salvo. The release of APIs for the Google Deskbar may awaken Microsoft’s retaliatory instincts nonetheless. For Google to challenge Microsoft on the desktop before establishing a secure position on the Web or on enterprise servers could be unwise. ”
“Google should first create APIs for Web search services and make sure they become the industry standard. It should do everything it can to achieve that end—including, if necessary, merging with Yahoo. Second, it should spread those standards and APIs, through some combination of technology licensing, alliances, and software products, over all of the major server software platforms, in order to cover the dark Web and the enterprise market. Third, Google should develop services, software, and standards for search functions on platforms that Microsoft does not control, such as the new consumer devices. Fourth, it must use PC software like Google Desktop to its advantage: the program should be a beachhead on the desktop, integrated with Google’s broader architecture, APIs, and services. And finally, Google shouldn’t compete with Microsoft in browsers, except for developing toolbars based upon public APIs. Remember Netscape.
When Google’s Peter Norvig was read this list—presented not as recommendations, but as things that Google would do—he did not deny any of it. ”
” Whether Google or Microsoft wins, the implications of a single firm’s controlling an enormous, unified search industry are troubling. First, this firm would have access to an unparalleled quantity of personal information, which could represent a major erosion of privacy. Already, one can learn a surprising amount about ­people simply by “googling” them. A decade from now, search providers and users (not to mention those armed with subpoenas) will be able to gather far more personal information than even financial institutions and intelligence agencies can collect today. Second, the emergence of a dominant firm in the search market would aggravate the ongoing concentration of media ownership in a global oligopoly of firms such as Time Warner, Ber­telsmann, and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.”
“If the firm dominating the search industry turned out to be Microsoft, the implications might be more disturbing still. The company that supplies a substantial fraction of the world’s software would then become the same company that sorts and filters most of the world’s news and information, including the news about software, antitrust policy, and intellectual property. Moreover, Microsoft could reach a stage at which its grip on the market remains strong, but its productivity falls prey to complacency and internal politics. Dominant firms sometimes do more damage through incompetence than through predation.”
“Indeed, as so many have noted, much of Microsoft’s software is just plain bad. In contrast, Google’s work is often beautiful. One of the best reasons to hope that Google survives is simply that quality improves more reliably when markets are competitive. If Google dominated the search industry, Microsoft would still be a disciplining presence; whereas if Microsoft dominated everything, there would be fewer checks upon its mediocrity.”
And here’s an interesting chart from the article that describes where data is stored:

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