Why I Like Microsoft and Google

Schizophrenics, step forward. This one’s for you.

How in the world can one like the Evil Empire and Do No Evil? How could I like anything from Microsoft? Afterall, XP is one of the worst nightmares known to software. I was terribly gratified when visiting a customer at Royal Dutch Shell in the Netherlands last week that Shell has skipped XP entirely: still run 2000 and are waiting for Vista. Of course, waiting for Vista is another soap opera. But here’s the point…

Yes, at this moment – fleeting as it may be — I do like both Microsoft and Google. Why? Because they are about to commoditize wikis for the masses and educate another 10 – 50 million people on wikis. In rather different ways. Wikis, which without doubt are one of the two killer apps to emerge from Web 2.0 Wonderland, along with blogs, will be spread and will benefit from the massive marketing budgets and reach of the Evil Empire and Do No Evil.

Microsoft will do wikis in a Gray-Metal-Desk-Bad-Movie kind of way. What a surprise. The current version of Sharepoint’s wiki is frighteningly bad. Shockingly. But let’s be clear: we do not underestimate the power nor the unventilated warehouses full of programmers attacking from Redmond, Washington. Sharepoint’s wiki will improve.

Google, on the other hand, will do it in a Clean-Intuitive-But-What’s-the-
Business-Model? kind of way. That’s because they bought our buddies from JotSpot who we have always respected here at Atlassian. JotSpot looks great and has some neat features. But it’s a reasonable prediction that Google will target a mass market audience and not enterprise customers. If history is any indicator, it’s also reasonable to predict that the wiki will be in service of the search and advertising Money Machine. We have always liked Google, so we not only wish them and Jot well, but we think they will do a good job in their own style of World-Domination-that-Does-Not-Harm-Animals.

So you gotta love ’em. Microsoft and Google in the same breath. It’s a personal struggle, but wikis deserve the publicity.

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