Sunday, February 10, 2008

Microsoft, Yahoo vs Google: What's in it for me?

Okay, so the various industry pundits are arguing about whether Microsoft will buy Yahoo!, whether Yahoo! will sell, whether the sellout will succeed, whether clashing corporate cultures will gel, whether the Department of Justice will neuter Microsoft and a whole lot besides.

My concern is simple; how does all of this affect me?

Here's how I see it:

  • Yahoo! is in trouble. If not, Microsoft or anyone else wouldn't bother making an offer that is substantially more than 44.odd billion
  • If yahoo is in trouble, any presence I have on yahoo is pretty iffy. By that, I mean that my yahoo email account and the yahoo groups I have may disappear overnight. Such things do happen
  • If yahoo ISN'T in trouble but still sells to Microsoft, we're on Hotmail territory. Microsoft isn't known to support anything, including things it makes. Far less things it acquires.
  • The DoJ and EU aren't really keen on Microsoft becoming a global giant. Chances are, if MS gobbles yahoo, we're going to be seeing a whole lot of court affairs. Guess who suffers? Right, the user.
Given the above, my recommendations:

  • Move everything from yahoo to anything else. If MSN works for you, ok, move it there.
  • Remove all traces of your yahoo email addy from your website / blog. You can always add it later when the dust settles and you find that you DO actually still have a yahoo email addy and the interface actually works
  • Look for an alternative to your yahoo e-group. The best would be a paid option but there are free options too. (I have to get cracking on this)
  • Export your yahoo address book(s) to CSV format and save the file to your hard disk. If you don't know how to do this, ask and I'll explain
Why am I advocating such drastic steps?

It's easy. Either Yahoo is in trouble or it's not. If it isn't in trouble, no harm done, all you do is back up your stuff and surf as usual. If it IS in trouble (and therefore folds up) you have your emails, contacts, e-groups, etc., backed up and (hopefully) migrated.

Either Microsoft takes over Yahoo! (regardless of its financial position) or it does not. If it does, there's no saying what it will retain and what it will chuck out. Safer to back up what's on Yahoo? I think so. If it doesn't, we're back to question 1, either Yahoo survives or it doesn't. What do you think will be the right path to follow?

Right, back up everything you have on yahoo to your hard disk for the moment. When the dust settles, you can decide where to put the stuff.