Why Microsoft will eventually win on the web

I’m no Microsoft fan boy. In fact I don’t think there is anything like a “fan boy” when it comes to Microsoft products. I’m a recent iPhone convert and I curse the years I’ve had to put up with the clunky and often-buggy Windows for Mobile and PC.

It’s no secret that Microsoft is a poor internet company. Arguably it’s a great software company, but finds itself stuck in the dark ages when it comes to the web. For years, it’s been licking the dust of search behemoth Google, who has struck at the very heart of Microsoft by creating both online, and now-offline, competitors to Word and Excel in Google Docs. It probably won’t be long before we see Google launch a (more online-focused) Operating System to rival Windows?

World’s biggest dormant social network
But the Redmond company is holding a pretty big ace up its sleeve. An ace that it has yet to activate, probably due to its lack of internet prowess. In fact, Microsoft is sitting on the world’s biggest unconnected social network. It’s there, but it just hasn’t been powered up yet because the company is so far behind when it comes to online innovation.

I’m talking about the hundreds of contacts people have in Outlook, still the world’s dominant business email client. Outlook’s emails and contacts aren’t yet socially networked because it’s an old software model, built before the social networking craze.

My contacts in my Outlook don’t have any direct connection to the people whose data they represent, eg: an email address or a phone number. The data is isolated from the actual contact or recipient itself. It’s data that belongs to me and only me, rather than data that is shared.

Installing Outlook plugins like Plaxo give you a snapshot of what could be. However as an external application it’s unable to unlock the true social networking potential lurking under Outlook’s hood.

So, one day, when Microsoft gets it together, you could wake up to find yourself part of the world’s biggest social network ever. And your Outlook will be the window to it.

Matthew Buckland: Publisher


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