Microsoft is always fun to watch. It's a huge force, often to the point of being ungraceful. But wherever it stomps, it's generally a matter of time before it's dominant or darn near it.
Except, of course, for the Internet. Most of us are looking at the Web from Internet Explorer (I'm not, but let's face it, many people still do); a good number of pages are served up from Microsoft servers; heck, probably more than half the tech pages are about Microsoft.
But Microsoft hasn't conquered Internet search or advertisement or even free e-mail in the way of, oh, I don't know ... just to pull a name out of a hat, let's say ... Google.
This fact isn't lost on Microsoft, as Steve Ballmer's recent chat at MIX08 about the proposed Yahoo acquisition illustrates.
But what's more interesting to me, as an observer of integration issues, is what Microsoft's chief software architect, Ray Ozzie, had to say about integrating Yahoo's Web technology.
Ozzie, who also invented Lotus Notes and founded the Groove Networks, told the UK newspaper the Financial Times that Microsoft will not rush to integrate either Yahoo's technology or its culture.
"Technology companies, if they dive in and just smash things together for smashing them together's sake, it's reckless, it's just simply reckless."
That's a really smart decision, though his remark does make me wonder how you define "rush" after you've paid approximately $41.4 billion for something -- which is the value at which the article placed the takeover.
Given that both companies have spent tens of millions of dollars to develop Web advertising platforms -- Yahoo's Panama system and Microsoft's AdCenter -- there's a lot of work to be done. Ovum Vice President David Mitchell told eCommerce Times if this deal goes through, Microsoft will face a different integration challenge than usual:
"Microsoft's history has been to view its own technology as superior and to go out and buy firms that had intellectual property that it could use to augment what it already built in-house. This is a much different situation."
News.com theorizes Microsoft's interoperability efforts might be tied to the integration of Yahoo in this article, given that Yahoo uses open-source PHP applications for its services.
If the deal goes through, it should be an interesting case study in technology and cultural integration. Let's hope Microsoft shares a few lessons learned along the way.