Google Graveyard Spooks Customers

The wind is blowing, and I think I hear a howl.

After all, Google customers are not finding tools they have been using over the years. The tools are dead and buried.

The ad company spooked Inc.’s Erik Markowitz as well. In tiptoeing past the Google Graveyard he quotes Google regarding one of their product cancellations:

"Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked...We don't plan to continue developing Wave as a standalone product, but we will maintain the site at least through the end of the year and extend the technology for use in other Google projects."

Are they in tune with business customers?
Given the speed of business today, organizations need intuitive and social tools to collaborate with colleagues and connect with their customers. In attempting to speed products to market, Google has rolled out poorly planned products and racked up a long list of failures. There was Buzz, Google’s answer to Facebook, that exposed private Gmail contacts and ended with a privacy lawsuit settlement, and Google Wave, with a long list of issues, which prompted TechCrunch’s article calling it “…worst of email and IM together: unproductivity”.

In cancelling this group of social media-like services, it is clear that Google is not in tune with the market needs and does not have a product roadmap and clear vision for productivity for their business customers. The Microsoft Office team does. Our vision demonstrates a clear focus on what business customers are looking for, such as intuitive interfaces across a wide range of devices.

Our marketing, field, and service teams at Microsoft use social media applications daily as do many businesses today. If we had adopted these Google tools, we would have lost our dialogues with millions of customers all over the world.

So, back to Google.

Google's product management process is like “cooking spaghetti”
The recent killing of Google Labs is ironic to me. Google releases experimental products and tracks adoption to determine whether to continue providing them. Its products are like spaghetti, Google throws them up against the wall to see if they stick.

Case in point, as of its June release, the company is giving Google Plus a try in the social space, and now they are providing access to it for Google Apps customers. But can businesses and schools trust it to be there for very long, judging by the history of Google’s social family?:

• Wave lived 15 months from May 2009-August 2010,
• Aardvark lived 19 months from February 2010-September 2011, 
• Buzz lived 20 months from February 2010 to October 2011.

It didn't take long for the first Google Plus bungle to happen, coming from its own engineer’s internal business communication that accidentally went out to the world. Given the lack of proper IT safeguards, I just can’t see how a business can take the risk of using Google tools. It's not surprising that cites: Privacy a Concern as Google Links Plus with Its Other Sites. As I read this piece from networking technology legend, Vint Cerf, I wonder even if any of the ad business’ users can expect privacy?: Vint Cerf on Google's Privacy Practices and How Getting Tagged in a Multitude of Online Media is Disconcerting.

Convenient for Google. Not good for business.
The burials of de-supported products are more examples of what is convenient for Google and not good for business. Recall from Tony’s blog on the topic that Google leaves no planning horizon for software updates, and that it has a short product support lifecycle. For Google Apps customers, the Google Scheduled Release track gives business a one-week window to prepare and adopt the latest changes to Google Apps after announcement, but businesses need planning and predictability. Imagine this list of questions from business users:

• Am I getting a software update this week, or this month, or the week when all my stores are busy with their quarterly inventory?
• Will the Google tool I am using to build my web site be there in six months when I need to build new pages?
• My sales reps are hungry for demo and training videos for our new product lines launching next week. How do I quickly identify a tool to replace Google Video and get people to adopt it?

If I were running a business using web-based productivity tools from Google, learning about their discontinuation of support for older browsers would make my hair stand on end. I’m sure it is a lot easier for Google to limit the number of browsers it supports than to address differences in the browsers, but I were an institution or business relying on Google Apps, it would be completely unreasonable to force version upgrades, and unacceptable to expect that users will always have the latest browser versions.

It is clear that Google’s product management practice is haphazard and noncommittal, resulting in its deliveries often falling short of expectations. Before finally re-releasing offline capabilities, Google stopped investing in Gears, its previous offline product, and removed its support in Chrome 11. This confused many users and caused concern. Ultimately, Google failed to deliver what customers need in offline capabilities, provided empty promises over a one-year period, and then released offline solutions that were even worse than the original product.

Microsoft Has a Predicable Approach to Supporting Products
Recognizing the importance of predictability for cloud services as well as software, Microsoft has a predictable and disciplined release cadence for cloud services such as for Exchange Online. Through our policy in place since October 15, 2002, Microsoft provides a 10 year support lifecycle:

“Microsoft will offer a minimum of 10 years of support for Business and Developer products. Mainstream Support for Business and Developer products will be provided for 5 years or for 2 years after the successor product (N+1) is released, whichever is longer.”

-- Microsoft’s Support Lifecycle Policy

Not only does Microsoft have a long support lifecycle for existing products, it helps businesses and users in their software rollout phases, providing a consistent, built-in “compatibility mode”. This helps customers assure they can utilize files and content created for previous product versions. An Internet Explorer 9 user can see content built for browsing via Internet Explorer 8. Web page meta elements simply trigger use of the "compatibility mode" in the IE9 browser.


Comments (76)
  1. Anonymous says:

    @Ryan:  I’m glad you liked the article. Yes, Windows Phone 7.5 with the growing Lync service ( )( )is also one of my favorites ( and the family enjoys the innovation in Kinect ( ). Here are other areas that interest me, personally. We recently rolled out innovations in Office 365 through a 30 feature update ( ), earning best cloud application product of 2011 from CRN  ( ). We are also innovating in trust and privacy for Office 365 ( ) and in partnering to address a diverse set of needs in the cloud ( ), as well as in the mobile space ( ). Keep reading Why Microsoft and our weekly roundup to keep pace with innovations which interest you.

  2. Anonymous says:

    thank you

  3. Anonymous says:


  4. Anonymous says:

    @David: I am glad to highlight the recognition Office 365 has achieved and the innovations in the productivity suite. Please see this post ( to learn about its telecom industry accolade as Best New Service or Application by Light Reading.  According to the post: “This award category focused on the company that has deployed a potentially market-leading, revenue-generating service or application that enhances the use of next-generation communications technology in the wireline network.”  In addition, here are strengths for Lync (; for SharePoint ( and; for Office (; and for Exchange (

    @Jacob: Yes, the title of this piece (  on puts the Google privacy issue mildly, while it brings out some important examples of the company’s
    practices and the attention it has garnered from  the Electronic Privacy Information Center
    (EPIC) and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF): “…Getting Tagged in a
    Multitude of Online Media is Disconcerting.”

  5. Anonymous says:

    thank you

  6. AndreHBuss says:

    This is true 🙂

  7. sam says:

    I'm far from a Microsoft-hater, but MSFT has had its share of abandoned products, this is a strange thing to attack Google over…  

    The abandonment of VB6 in the migration to .NET (see ) is the largest example of "doing what is convenient for [Microsoft] and not good for business".

  8. Lance Seidman says:

    Many companies abandon what works for them, especially if they seem to be popular and free aka bad product.

    Sam: Microsoft didn't abandon Visual Basic, it still exists but it uses the .NET Framework aka VB.NET or call it VB7. Now, I too was upset a version of VB like VB6 wasn't released, too upset and heard this thing called .NET was going to be VB7, I was pretty furious and have stopped developing for Windows.

    However, I do use .NET/Silverlight/XNA for my Windows Phone 7 App's and use both VB.NET and C#.NET.

  9. Steve says:

    This is a great post!  I used to be a Google fanboy until they suckered me in with Wave and then killed it.  I invested a bunch of time learning about it and thought they were going to continue to invest in it based on their indications. Then, they killed it even after adding it to Google Apps.  It was something like 2 weeks later after adding it.  Time wasted and lesson learned.

  10. mike says:

    None of those products above have ever been part of the business product "Google Apps"

    The products above were always "consumer products".

  11. Bob Hyatt says:

    I guess it's easy to predict that Microsoft won't be innovative.

  12. bill says:

    Um, Mike –…/google-wave-labs-available-for-google.html

    Seems it was previewed on 5/19 for Google Apps users and killed in August…/update-on-google-wave.html

    Interesting roadmap to add it to Apps just to kill it a few months later. Lame.

  13. David says:

    It's laughable to think that Microsoft better understands its business customers. Have you compared Microsoft Office Web Apps with Google Docs? Docs is lightyears ahead, more flexible, collaborative, and usable.

    It seems Google has integrated parts of Wave (or similar features to Wave) into Google Docs allowing for simultaneous group editing, commenting, and IM. As large a company as it is, Google continues to be innovative, something rather difficult for large companies to achieve and continue over time. I hope the trend continues.

    I used GOOG411 quite often and was sad to see it go, but hey, life goes on.

  14. John says:

    Is this site running Telligent Community or SharePoint with Telligent web parts?

  15. DJ says:

    Poor Google. One bad app, the internet explodes. One bad Microsoft app, that's like… Tuesday.

  16. EliJah says:

    It's a little bit childish to throw marketing jabs at other companies, while the same claim can be easily applied to your own business practices. Take a look here –

    One more thong, if you disagree with what has been posted in this blog – this should be addresses to Mr. Tom Rizzo's PR team. None of the public figures, especially as busy as Mr. Rizzo, have time to write extended blog entries. It is done by PR team, and in this particular case Mr Rizzo's PR team should be reprimanded for putting a false statements in  this blog.

  17. Ummm... says:

    "Case in point, as of its June release, the company is giving Google Plus a try in the social space, and now they are providing access to it for Google Apps customers. But can businesses and schools trust it to be there for very long, judging by the history of Google’s social family?:

    • Wave lived 15 months from May 2009-August 2010,

    • Aardvark lived 19 months from February 2010-September 2011,  

    • Buzz lived 20 months from February 2010 to October 2011."

    What about Orkut?

  18. jim says:

    Stop drinking that Haterade. Microsoft does not innovate. Their pructs suck. They take ideas from others and say, "see we can do it too!"

  19. johnson says:

    Just think about all those poor CIOs that are looking for jobs after they decided to go with BPOS.  Probably wish they could have predicted that one.

  20. Jacob says:

    The Microsoft people must have struck a nerve with all the haters in the comments!  For the VB6 guy, Microsoft supported VB6 for way too long so I don't know how you can blame them for supporting it for something like 10-15 years.  Heck, I can still run VB6 stuff on my Win7 laptop.

    While Microsoft may not be the most loveable company, I have to admit they actually try to do right by their customers whereas Google is all about violating my privacy to make a buck on me.

  21. Conrad says:

    Compelling, but if customers are not using the product, Microsoft would do the same thing. Why not throw products on the wall in "beta" form and see what happens? It creates a creative work environment (I think) that would be compelling to be in. Create something that you "think" might work and get feedback. If it doesn't work. Lets go back to the drawing board and lets see how we can make it better. What is wrong with that approach?

  22. Brian Ward says:

    The reason Google is abandoning them.  If you are using a Google product that no one else is using, they are probably doing you a favor.  Let's assume the author's Google Plus example.  If you are putting a ton of energy and resources into Google Plus and Google pulls the plug on Google Plus – they are telling you your time has been wasted because Google Plus is not your best forum.

    Google also has an entrepreneurial spirit which leads to trying somewhat off-the wall things.  I applaud this about the company and suggest Microsoft adopt something like it and try and get away from the huge bureaucracy it has become.  

    I like Microsoft, but these posts are petty and lame.  Worry about your own company and let it's success speak for it's superior business methodology, not name calling.

  23. Dan Yurcovic says:

    Fantastic post!  It's the same thing with Apple… business customers are second class.  Liek MS or not, they build for the business.

  24. Chris Hammond says:

    Live Mesh


    need I say more?

  25. Frank says:

    Typical MS – trash and criticize other companies' products…while failing in their own.

    What's the marketshare of Windows Phone 7…?

    MS, try putting your energies into innovating your own solutions instead of critizing others…

  26. la_bruin says:

    Different organization and product development styles.  Each have advantages and disadvantages.  

    Authoring a critique of this nature shows how much MS has to fear with Google's advances in the enterprise.  Apps with G+ is an amazingly powerful system.  Given the enhancements of late to the core Google products, I am happy to have the graveyard of non-critical items.

  27. Scott says:

    In regards to browser upgrades, what about security issues?

  28. Jie says:

    Love it:) cooking spaghetti …. LOL

  29. Bryan says:

    " I were an institution or business relying on Google Apps, it would be completely unreasonable to force version upgrades, and unacceptable to expect that users will always have the latest browser versions."

    I'm confused, you mean some people use browsers that don't automatically update to the latest, most stable and secure version automatically upon open?

    This is completely backwards. It should be unacceptable that a user would NOT be easily and automatically updated to the latest browser version with no disruption to their work. The fact that so many people are still running IE6 is not something Microsoft should be proud of.

  30. sam says:

    Its better to be with spaghetti which sticks then trying to stick a spaghetti which does not stick (Read: Bing).

  31. player says:

    PlaysForSure except on our Zune Players.

  32. GrumpyMonkeyPants says:

    And Microsoft doesn't abandon products!? They just spent 10 years making IE7 the greatest browser ever. Wait… what?

  33. John C. Bland II says:

    "Old Browser Support"

    You guys should learn this one! 😉 hahaha.

  34. Daniel says:

    Microsoft doing well……/ballmer

  35. AC says:

    I was just thinking about this very topic while I was listening to my playforsure tracks on my Zune.

  36. daniel says:

    @tony tai – maybe the whole board needs to be replaced…  If Gates came back he would out Ballmer in a second but chooses to run his philanthropy instead and doesn't want to upset the status quo.  Did you read my link?  Do you realise that MSFT stock price is the same place it was 10 years ago?  I run a stockbroking firm and i am in the process of moving away from windows (to mac and ubuntu).  No i'm not a fan boy but a business and consumer user who is sick of the second rate and expensive products microsoft keeps pumping out.  O/S dominance no longer matters, most apps (at least most in my industry) are now web based.   Metro is promising but it's still got Windows underneath… IMO Microsoft needs to reinvent itself for the times instead of milking past success…

  37. daniel says:

    that last post was meant to say @Tom Rizzo

  38. Came on says:

    …you are Microsoft MOMO, who is going to belive any article you wrote.

  39. testerus says:

    I still miss Live Search Books.

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  41. ryan says:

    Good article, but I see no reason why Microsoft would ever be mentioned here, let alone compared. MSFT has had it's share of our poor support and killed products just the same as Google. Killing Wave in such a short time (email has been around for 45 and they expect to replace it in 15 mo?) definitely changed my view on Google's idea product support (does Google even have a customer support team for anything other than AdWords?).

    Google knows how to innovate, they just aren't great on support. But that's there model. They have one massive income stream (Adwords) that allows them to create all sorts of free products with no revenue. But with no revenue on a product, means no support, and since they aren't taking anyone's money, they have no incentive not to cut the cord and stop supporting a product whenever they see fit. And that's a problem with the free software model.

    Now MSFT. Besides gaming (Xbox), Microsoft has been falling drastically short in the innovation game and that might be due to supporting bad products for too long (e.g. IE6, Windows Mobile, Windows Update), not accepting industry standards (HTML4 for years), and not trying pushing the boundary on new technology. MSFT was once the pioneer on the web and now it looks like an old beast struggling to get back on it's feet. I sure hope it does, because I once loved MSFT and think some of their work has real potential (Windows Phone, Azure, Sharepoint). Each year though, it appears MSFT is loosing market share in all of their businesses because they simply can't innovate fast or good enough. Good luck MSFT, we all hope you become great again.

  42. David says:

    Its true Google are pretty bad when it comes but agreed with the guy below Microsoft are pretty bad aswell .e.g Were just releasing an article on <a href="…/&quot; target="_blank">windows xp</a> support/ updates being dropped

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