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Google confuses me

© October 2005 Anthony Lawrence

Google donated $350,000 to support open source development. In reference to that, Google's Chris DiBona is quoted as saying that "Backing open-source projects also puts pressure on Microsoft and other software companies".

We all know that Google uses Linux and other open source software for the humongous server farm that processes our searches. We all know that Microsoft probably wants to kill Google. We get it, Microsoft gets it, and Google gets it.

So why do all their platform products appear in Microsoft versions first and Linux or Mac versions later or never?

I understand that they HAVE to do Microsoft versions. I also understand that Linux versions can be more difficult because of all the different distros out there. Yes, the Mac and Linux market combined is still ridiculously small so from a straight product analysis, what they do makes sense. But it does not make sense politically.

Microsoft is Google's enemy. Not because Google has any reason to dislike them, but because Microsoft sees Google as a giant threat and therefore turns against them like a rabid dog. This 350K donation is a political move, but an even better political maneuver would be to put platform products out in Mac and Linux versions BEFORE the Microsoft versions. The Linux ports don't have to be all inclusive; it's the gesture that counts: Microsoft has to be second fiddle for a change. People coming to download the latest whiz-bang tool from Google would find a Mac version and perhaps one or two Linux downloads and a note saying to check back later for the Microsoft Windows tool. Post that a week later, and in the meantime you've got people wishing they had Linux or a Mac.

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-> Google confuses me

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More Articles by © Anthony Lawrence

Tue Nov 1 11:35:36 2005: 1265   drag

I'd put my money on that it's just all down to practicality. The largest audiance that they can go after is obviously Windows users. They are able to get their name spread and advertising revenue gained by catering to that group first.

Now donating to open source is more of a charity sort of thing.. it not going to realy generate any revenue for them at this point. So it's a easy matter of going after what makes them money.

I'm happy though that they decided to put some actual developers on OpenOffice.org. I think that google can help out alot, especially when it comes to practical UI design. When I tried out google groups it didn't take me long to figure it out. When I tried out google maps or froogle it was almost instinctual. The layout and design is very good and they kept it simple. That sort of thing is often lacking in most software.

What is funny though is that you have these political attacks over markets and such. You have Google on one side now working on OpenOffice.org so they can give it away to hopefully take some wind out of MS Office.. and on the other side you have Microsoft dumping millions of dollars into a search engine that has yet to generate them any real profit.


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