What I Will Do if Microsoft Buys Yahoo

The impending Microsoft hostile takeover of Yahoo is getting under my skin. Not since the HP-Compaq merger has there been such a more useless waste of human energy and money.

What’s difficult for me to swallow is that Yahoo shareholders may eventually vote for this. These are the same sorts of people who are always looking to trade away good players on sports teams for the hope and speculation that some future drafted player will be the savior of the franchise. Rarely do such wishes come true in sports - and even more rarely do they in business. It seems that no one believes in building anymore, in staying the course, in commitment.

Without further ado, let me clearly state my course of action should the merger be approved. But briefly, let me describe how I’ve already prepared for the worst.

I’ve already moved any crucial Yahoo services to a new Yahoo account. I’ve already notified all my friends/family to make sure they understand that my longstanding Yahoo email address will shortly be deleted. While I still have a Yahoo email address, it is just really an account login. No one knows the new one - and no one ever will. Most other services I’ve switched to Google.

Thus, the rumor of the merger has already, quite sadly, cost Yahoo a MailPlus account. That’s $20 year I won’t be giving them anymore.

However, as for those crucial services (my Flickr account, my del.icio.us account, and Yahoo Search Marketing), I really hope not to have to cancel them. Two of these, I pay for. I pay $24.95/year for my Flickr Pro account, and I have an ongoing advertising campaign with Yahoo Search Marketing (nope, not telling you my campaign budget amounts - sorry!).

But trust me. If Microsoft gets their approval, those services will be canceled the day of the approval. I won’t even wait for the merger to get approved by the government. I don’t even want Microsoft to have even the slightest trace of my old data.

What does that mean to me?

It means I’m spending time now looking for a good alternative to Flickr. Probably, it’s going to be PhotoBucket, just because I’ve heard good stuff about it, but I really need to research what else is out there (suggestions are welcome). Moving all my photos is going to be a pain, plus updating inbound links to them, but it’s a Sunday afternoon I’m going to have to waste.

I’m also going to have to find a new online bookmark service. I love Del.icio.us - I really do. I hardly remember how I lived without it before. When Yahoo bought it, I was thrilled (as it ensured it would be around forever). Who would have thought that it’s future would be jeopardized by a buyout from Microsoft?

And it means my Yahoo Search Marketing account will be deleted. The very thing Microsoft is paying for most, will be nullified by my, and hopefully thousands of other’s, actions.

Some might try and argue that Microsoft has it in their interest to maintain all these great services. I agree. But that won’t stop them from using our data as fodder to push their other ugly web services on us. And it sure won’t stop them from tinkering with them - possibly breaking their usability - and worse, trying to integrate their other web services into them.

I can say all this, because there hasn’t been a Microsoft web service that I haven’t at least tried. All of them were sub-par when contrasted to more innovative startups, Yahoo, and Google.

Yahoo has been an open community-driven company for a long time now - everything that Microsoft is not. Microsoft will destroy that - not by intention, but because it knows no other way.

Microsoft will not, and perhaps can not, spend the energy and money to bring their operating system issues up to speed. You must be delusional if you think this is the same company that could ever just keep their dirty mitts off of great services that Yahoo has assembled.

Those outside the web development community may not be aware how instrumental Yahoo has been in fostering and pushing web standards that has helped thousands of companies out there. Who does Microsoft ever help? Only one company: themselves. Even AOL, that dragon of old, has been quickly morphing into a pro-web standards, open accessibility company, following rapidly in Yahoo’s footsteps.

In fact, when you look at all the big tech players (Sun, Yahoo, AOL, Google, Mozilla, IBM, Adobe), only one is still of the opinion that proprietary, anti-community technology is a-okay: Microsoft. Very old school. And yet they want to buy the champion of the new internet era because, well, it’s cheap (right now) and they have the second-best widespread advertising revenue on the internet. Huh?

No doubt there is money in Yahoo’s future earnings. There’s also some in Ford, too. They have been having a tough couple of years (no thanks to you un-Patriotic dolts who buy Korean cars that plunge in value mere minutes after you drive off with your 90-year warranty). Should Microsoft buy Ford? They could almost use the same justifications that they are using for Yahoo, except for one small detail: Cars isn’t what Microsoft does (thankfully - I hate rebooting as it is). And neither is search marketing and advertising. At least not very well (as judging by their competition).

Why doesn’t Microsoft figure out who they are - and then go back and be that guy? Be the big giant software company that crushes the market? Some might say that it is because web services are the new software markets. True, but consider these three small personal experiences of mine:

1. I’ve discovered that Google App’s spreadsheet is absolutely fantastic for most of my normal spreadsheet needs - and Google engineered it in a year, it’s free, and it’s online, anywhere. And I’m a Microsoft Excel wizard/genius. I love Excel. I’m certified in it and use it all the time. But, Microsoft has no mid-way solution between a giant program like Excel - and a quick online freebie. And this isn’t going to work well, either. And so, they lose.

2. Vista is a failure. I hate to say that because I sound like some retarded Apple fanboy, but let’s at least agree that the thing needs tons of work. Tons. I’ve nearly been tempted (nearly!) to buy a MacBook for my next laptop. Not my desktop (I haven’t fully lost my mind), but it’s a shame that Microsoft isn’t putting 110% effort into making their flagship product worthy of purchase. Extending the shelf life of XP is only weakening their argument that Vista is worthy, but at the same time, they can hardly get even two tech reviewers to endorse it. Meanwhile, Apple reaps all the benefits of Microsoft’s distraction (some would say “obsession”) with absorbing Yahoo. And maybe the Linux community reaps a bit of the benefit too, although mostly in good will, rather than actual dollars. I bought that Vista nightmare for my main machine - which is good because nothing else will run it.

3. I just bought my first piece of installable software in over three years: SmartDraw 2008. The thing spins Microsoft Visio around on its head and dumps it over the railing into the river. Microsoft is seemingly unaware of who its competition is. I’ve used Visio before in corporate jobs. It’s a great program. It’s also grossly overpriced, a monstrosity of options (like Word), takes forever to load, and takes a while to learn. Let me tell you about SmartDraw: I downloaded a demo of it and bought it the same day. Online. And was given a license key (almost like a Shareware experience) to activate it within minutes. And then they shipped the CD to me within days, along with a nice poster of all the different types of graphs. It was the fastest $200 I’ve spent on software. It was, to put it nicely, a no-brainer. Microsoft loses.

To be nice to Microsoft, because I’m not a Microsoft hater, I decided to link to Visio above. So, naturally, I typed in http://www.microsoft.com/visio/ in my browser. Unexpectedly, that did not lead me to the Visio home page. Instead, it lead me to a page that said, “We’re sorry, but we were unable to service your request. You may wish to choose from the links below for information about Microsoft products and services.” I am not kidding. And the monster list of links did not even include Visio. So, where is the mysterious Visio home page? It’s at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/visio/default.aspx. Very intuitive, right? No one at Microsoft could possibly due a little 301 redirect? Heavens, this is basic 1997 stuff, folks. This is why Microsoft, again, loses. So I guess that’s four recent experiences.

Microsoft needs to focus on its strengths, not its weaknesses. Make Vista the “must-have” OS of 2008/9. Make XBox 360 be the “must-have” gaming rig. Make the software they release be “must have” - not because offices are used to upgrading to it, but because people want it. Microsoft spent an enormous amount of time and money this past year chasing, of all companies, Adobe. They released a very good product, Expression, that no one uses. And no one will. I’ve yet to meet a developer who is using it. Microsoft is trying to force a product into every niche (ahem! Silverlight!) regardless of, and without respect for, the existing market dynamics. Meanwhile, they allow other flagship products to be sub-par. It’s bewildering to me. And it certainly isn’t the Microsoft that I grew up on. They are almost like the mid-80’s version of IBM - lost, confused, tepid. The only difference is that people are still buying enough of their products to keep them from making a serious change - yet.

So, while I have no illusions that any one from Yahoo will change their vote because of this little rant, and I certainly don’t think Microsoft will back off now (unless someone else rescues Yahoo - my vote is for Apple or Adobe to buy them at this point), I hope to inspire at least a few people to leave Microsoft with an empty shell after they ransack Yahoo. It seems only fair. Netscape was beaten unfairly by Microsoft by its (still) sub-par browser, Internet Explorer. Someone has to pay Microsoft back for that dirty trick. Let’s give them a Yahoo that has no worthwhile accounts - and let’s boost all the competition of Yahoo as soon as Microsoft buys it by switching all our Yahoo web services to Google and others.

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Glad to hear that you’ve enjoyed your experience with SmartDraw! As for Microsoft’s Visio website, it sounds like they could use some URL rewriting.

I really like Yahoo, but as soon as I found out about glorious gmail and Google’s other services (docs, apps, calendar etc.), I switched over. I now only keep a Yahoo account just to have a Yahoo account–and for Flickr. I’m pretty much an advocate of your ‘protest’ idea. I think I’ll probably cut my yahoo account if Microsoft gets the deal.

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