Users as Pawns in the Game

Scoble writes this week about how Microsoft’s plan to challenge Google is to use it’s 320 million “anti-Google weapons” – in other words, the 320 million users of MSN services.  When did users become weapons?

Due to anti-trust arrangements, of course, Microsoft can’t easily “leverage” it’s Windows users or its Office users.  However, MSN users are fair game because Microsoft doesn’t have a monopoly there.

But all of this gets to a meta point – doesn’t it suck to be used as a pawn for Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, or anyone?

Unfortunately, this is an arms race which only gets worse as desperation mounts.  Users don’t want the installation of one product to reconfigure their preferences for another.  However, this is exactly what  Microsoft does today – install *any* MSN product,  and if you aren’t careful, it switches all your search settings to Microsoft’s search.  In the future, if they get more desperate, I’m certain they’ll stop bothering to ask, and instead claim it is a requirement as part of the “terms of service”.

This is wrong; and every company is guilty of it.  I do believe the more desperate companies are generally the aggressors.   Once started, however, it becomes an arms race where each company must respond before the other company uninstalls them!  This is wrong. 

I want a 3rd party utility that doesn’t pimp its wares on me but which knows about the arms race for media players, default browser, default search, etc etc and neutralizes these marketing tactics which think of me as a “weapon” against the competition.

3 thoughts on “Users as Pawns in the Game

  • June 18, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    You make a great point.

    Install any application and it wants to change the file extension association to the new application.

    Go download Live Writer and it wants to install the MS search bar and the Live Kitchen Sink.

    If I wanted all that extra crap I’d go and install it.

    What I yearn for is a bygone era where an application simply installed onto the PC and didn’t put a bunch of crap on the system.

    What I’d really like to see is a very clean, minimal Windows installation that is rock solid secure out of the box and can run for years without getting cluttered and slow.

    If Microsoft wants to “give” the users extra crap, simply have an installation application with a bunch of choices for the user to install or not install.

  • June 18, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Oh yea, and Scoble isn’t on target all the time with his analysis. I have found that sometimes he get a little sensational to increase his foot traffic.

  • June 19, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    “However, this is exactly what (Microsoft|Google|Yahoo!) does today – install *any* (MSN|Google|Yahoo!) product, and if you aren’t careful, it switches all your search settings to (Microsoft|Google|Yahoo!)’s search.”

    Fixed that for you.


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