Google to Search, as Microsoft to Desktop?


Everyone knows Google is the King of search, and Hitwise released some data to confirm the fact: Google has increased its share of volume of U.S. searches from 59.3% to 60.2% for the month of July. When Om visited the Googleplex last month, he discussed this point, of how important search is to Google, and how it’s still the brains behind the entire show.

With Google’s search share still growing, this begs the question: When it comes to search can Google get as big as Microsoft is in the desktop? Like those good ol’ standardized English tests, does the equation match? Send us your thoughts!




Did you try the latest version of Google Desktop, I haven’t seen the issue which you mentioned above.

Peter Brockmann

Here’s a longwinded answer that zooms in on three key factors:
1. Is Google technology the best? Yes. Google rocks! In Safari (the Mac OS X browser), there’s a special Google window built into the browser, and I use it all the time. Steve Balmer came to Ottawa in January (can you imagine anyone wanting to do that) and gave a speech where he said search engines get it only half right most of the time… I check with my friends, and we think his issue is the search engine he uses (bet it ain’t Google) since the relevancy of our results are so much higher. Users will continue to use Google as the search engine of choice.

  1. Is Google distribution and access to the customers the strongest? Microsoft illegally used its monopoly power to make IE the browser of choice for most PC users. Google does not have complete control over advertisers, or over users’ search engine choices, since the cost of switching is merely a click away.

  2. Can / will either of these factors change over time? Certainly. Having the best technology now is not necessarily the same as a year from now. However, since we’re talking about software-as-a-service, Google has the software skill to match any competitive threats that emerge the fair and old-fashioned way: create product.

The changes in market access is a bigger question. Yahoo is relevant today, even if their search is weak, because of the attractiveness of their other integrated services like corporate stuff (I love for my corporate research projects). Yahoo deals with Rogers and AT&T as the portal-of-choice for their services is powerful, but not the only way to the market. They are a convenient choice for many of these people.

So, I don’t think Google will gain as much as Microsoft did. The search and related markets being competitive and innovative (Google did come from nowhere and played a leading role in creating a $12 billion industry), means that Google customers, such as advertisers and competitors such as other search engines will work to balance Google’s power by sharing their investments and improving their technologies.

Milo Riano

I am a big fan of google search but they would always give me the same results over and over again from a specific popular site when I try to search for new technologies even though if it’s not their forte (everyone knows what pagerank is). If I’m not satisfied I would always drop by and would get different results but by no means inferior quality and interesting I get to know about not so popular sites but probably knew and definitely writes great content.

Yeah, it’s not so difficult to change my preference and no compelling reason to stick to google all the time.


The reason I don’t use Google Desktop search engine.

Google doesn’t seem to notice when users move files from one folder to another. Hence it does not updates its search index after the file has been moved to a different folder. This results in a broken links in the search results.
Microsoft desktop search engine immediately updates its search index after I moved the document to a different folder.

Patrick Fitzgerald

At this point, the only thing that keeps me searching with Google is brand loyalty. Google wasn’t the first search engine, but they provided a huge improvement over the previous attempts. Now the other search engines have caught up, but until they provide another huge improvement I probably won’t switch.

It’s a bit like home video – DVDs were a great success because they offered a huge improvement over VHS, but HD-DVDs will have a much slower uptake because they don’t offer a good enough reason to upgrade.


I hope not – Google’s results have really gone down the tubes. I’ve started using Clusty as my search engine, and look forward to a new engine that will once again focus on relevant results.


In additional challenge for google is that it is much easier for competitors to roll out changes across all of their users than it is for Microsoft’s competitors. With a search app, you just need to update one spot and all users are now using the new version. And that also makes it easier for everybody to go test drive the other search engines when news of some new feature comes out.

Michael Katcher

Definitely not. For better or for worse, Microsoft was able to succeed in gaining as much market share as it did because of its monopolistic practices. When machines come pre-installed with Windows or Office, that is an enormous advantage. In addition, it’s not easy to switch Office suites, and certainly not easy to switch OSs.

Google, on the other hand, gains much less from pre-installing Google as the default search engine in a browser. While there is no doubt that it helps, even to a large degree, I don’t think it is comparable to pre-installed Office or OS software.

Also, there is the question of inter-operability. There is nothing you can find on Google that you can’t find on another search engine (theoretically). No one would dare switch to a non-compatible Office substitute, but with search engines, there is no pain in moving from Google to Ask, Live, or Yahoo.

This says nothing of the future relative success of the two companies, and Google can certainly become bigger or more powerful than Microsoft. However, I think the answer to your specific question, whether Google can ever reach the level of market share that Microsoft enjoyed on the desktop, is a conclusive no.

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