If the last week should have been dedicated to talks concerning Windows Vista Beta 2 and Microsoft Office 2007 Beta 2 as well as other things Microsoft presented at WinHec, things eventually took an unexpected turn as the Internet giants decided that it was time to come up with a series of striking alliances.
Google signed a surprise partnership with Dell – one of Microsoft's traditional allies – a partnership which doesn't cirectly concern online search, as one may have expected, but installing Google software products on the Dell PCs. In other words, a frontal attack aimed at Microsoft and, why not, a response to the fact that MSN is the default search engine in Internet Explorer 7.
Yahoo didn't wait too long to admire the future Windows Vista Beta 2 either, but it rushed forward to a deal with eBay – an alliance whose main purpose is to offer a counterpart to Google, but which also has any chance to pose a threat to MSN Search as well.
All these changes in the Portal Wars leave Microsoft facing a complicated question: who are they going to ally with? If, aside from the enormous beneficial influence to their image, the Google-Dell partnership means only a small part compared to the hardware producers which will enroll under the Windows Vista flag, when it comes to web services it will be the Yahoo-eBay combination which will probably affect Microsoft more.
As for the online searches, all studies agree: Google is placed first, with a percent almost double compared to Yahoo, while MSN fights for the same 11 percents it's been having for some time. If thanks to eBay Yahoo now has a chance to win back some grounds from the distance separating them from Google, Microsoft has to find an alliance or a wonder-solution to help them raise – or, at least, maintain their level – his percents a bit in the online searching domain.
As redoutable as the Yahoo-eBay combination may be, Google has a good enough position in the race to be able to take time in searching new solutions. From its aspiring position, MSN search can't afford that luxury. Under the pressure made on the one side by Google-Dell, which shows Microsoft that they don't hold exclusivity in matter of preinstalled software, and on the other side by Yahoo-eBay, Microsoft has to look for more solutions – many and good.
The tendency is quite clear and the web services are leading. And no matter how much Windows Vista will be delayed, it's quite certain that it won't change the situation of Microsoft's desktop supremacy in a radical way, but Microsoft is in danger of missing the start in matter of web services. The efforts that the Redmond-based company is making with their Windows Live platform are remarkable and demonstrate that Microsoft has the abilities it takes. But will they managed to face all by themselves the attack unleashed by Google and Yahoo?