At the Microsoft Developers Conference, many questions about privacy and trust were raised. However, despite the huge opportunities, the company did not try to stand out from other, promising new measures that protect the privacy of the end user, and did not seem to set Google as an opponent.
Why is Microsoft so reluctant to use privacy as a competing weapon?
Last week was for Microsoft and Google, as both companies held conferences for their service developers.
So it seems quite tempting to look at every announcement and every decision that companies have made. Instinct says (when analyzing and comparing any company with Google), expect the other to make big announcements about end-user privacy (see Chrome with Firefox and guess who brower invests in privacy and why).
So in the following article we could expect Microsoft to try to promote privacy as a key part of its corporate message at this week's Developers Build 2019 conference.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella touched on the issue by opening the first day of Build 2019 with the words “Privacy is a human rightEmphasizing the challenges to privacy. A few minutes later, another Microsoft executive unveiled the new privacy checks that we'll see in a preview of Edge based on Chromium. Later in the week, there were two sessions examining the ethical and private implications of face recognition and AI.
The word Google did not even refer to some of the sessions that took place last week.
In a session entitled "Browser Status," for example, the Edge developer repeatedly referred to "other browser builders" without ever using the word beginning with G.
Chrome at the time was just another anonymous Chromium-based browser.
Why this reluctance to compete? Let's look at some reasons.
Let us remember the story. In 2012 the CEO Steve Ballmer hired him as Strategic Advisor Mark Penn. Penn's "strategy" was the catastrophic "Do not get Scroogled" ad campaign. This campaign violated many advertising principles and was highly competitive.
But the campaign "Scroogled"It was a complete failure and probably damaged Microsoft's reputation much more than it did Google. So the Satya Nadella quickly sent Penn home after taking over as CEO.
It is important now that consumers are not particularly interested in privacy, unless there is a huge scandal with eye-catching titles, such as the ones we have seen with Facebook.
Google has managed to avoid huge scandals for the most part, although it continues to collect huge amounts of data to make money from people who use its services.
Meanwhile, companies that are Microsoft customers are said to be interested in protecting their privacy only when they are legally exposed and will have to comply with the Law.
Of course, everything can change one day, and unexpectedly Google is trapped in a privacy scandal in one of its most basic services. For now, though, most of the negative attention focused on Google has to do with antitrust issues in search results.
There is probably a "leave the bear alone" factor here. Google is the custodian of Chromium's code, and Microsoft developers are working together to contribute the code. The last thing they need right now is a conflict in terms of sales and marketing, next to the adversity caused by each collaboration, until it becomes a collaboration.
But the most important of all the above factors is Microsoft's anxiety to prevail in the browser war.
In early 2018, we noticed that Microsoft Edge would probably have the luck of Internet Explorer. A year later, the situation has probably improved.
The movement of the last three months in the program US Government Digital Analytics, from the beginning of May 2019, 60% of the total traffic from Windows 10 computers seems to come from Google Chrome. Edge users are at 16,6% and Internet Explorer at 15,5%. Mozilla Firefox has shrunk to 7% of total traffic on Windows 10 PCs and all other browsers are well below 1%.
The situation gets much worse when you consider the number of corporate computers that have not been upgraded to Windows 10. Most of these computers run Windows 7, where Microsoft's only browser is Internet Explorer. IE usage reaches 34% while Chrome usage is 56,7%. Firefox usage is below 8,8%.
With the extension of Microsoft support to Windows 7 for an additional three years to companies from the official expiration date of January 2020, this challenge will become even more significant.
But in the long run, Microsoft may gain some Google customers by building a Chrome-like browser. This may give a good reason for the company's corporate customers to leave Internet Explorer.
After all the above I think we can forget about privacy as an argument. One of the three key features of the upcoming Edge introduced by Microsoft in Build 2019 is the new built-in Internet Explorer feature, which allows new browser users to run IE pages on a tab within the Edge.
This feature will be the one that will make corporate customers decide the change they do not dare to make.