With Google coming on strong, everyone keeps poking at Microsoft, saying that they are behind the times. I’ve heard many times that Microsoft missed the boat on capitalizing on Web technologies and let Google take the lead. Oh how Microsoft’s day are numbered! I say, not so fast.

Microsoft is not an innovator, they never have been, they never will be. They are terrible at being a first mover (remember Microsoft Bob?); they succeed only in areas where others have already succeeded. Let’s take a trip down memory lane to see the trend:

Windows – You know the story, Microsoft got an early look at the Macintosh user interface and next thing you know, there was Windows.

Internet Explorer – Another one you probably know. Netscape was way ahead in this race when Microsoft decided to jump in and dominate the market. Netscape went under.

Pocket PC – Once again, Microsoft entered a mature market, this one dominated by Palm. Now, Pocket PCs rule the market and Palm is in danger of going out of business.

Windows Media Player – Now we’re looking at both Quicktime and RealPlayer. Microsoft didn’t put them out of business, but RealPlayer is struggling to keep a foothold in the streaming media business.

So is Microsoft behind the times? Yes they are, but they always have been and they always have risen to the occassion. They actually take a very smart approach, however inadvertently: wait for a market to develop, evaluate what is being done wrong in it, and then do it better. It’s a proven strategy, so don’t hand the crown of the Web over to Google just yet. They, too, may fall behind the power of a fast-moving Microsoft.

Disclaimer: Any viewpoints and opinions expressed in this article are those of Nicholas C. Zakas and do not, in any way, reflect those of my employer, my colleagues, Wrox Publishing, O'Reilly Publishing, or anyone else. I speak only for myself, not for them.

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