In the escalating face-off between Microsoft and Google, the prevailing sentiment is that Google will outpace Microsoft when it comes to developing innovative software. That's the result of an informal survey completed recently on InformationWeek's MicrosoftToday.com Web site by 259 respondents. Fifty-seven percent came down in favor of Google, while 43% chose Microsoft.
The question we asked was this: "As Microsoft and Google increasingly compete, which company do you think will develop the most innovative software in the next couple of years." As a self-selecting survey of Web site visitors, the results aren't scientific, but they're interesting nonetheless. The surprising thing isn't so much that Google scored higher--we might have anticipated that given Google's momentum--but that Microsoft was favored by four of 10 people. Maybe there's hope for Bill Gates' crew, after all.
For evidence of how it's playing out, look no further than Google's decision last week to publicly release the API to Google Maps and other code it developed using the Ajax programming tools. The best Microsoft could do was pledge support for Ajax in the form of a future development tool code-named Atlas.
Google has been getting attention of late for its Google Maps street-mapping application and Google Earth database of satellite images. It's worth remembering, though, that Microsoft was years ahead of Google in both areas, with its MapPoint software and Terra Server database. So software innovation is part perception, part reality, and advantages generally aren't long lasting.