No, this is not about the X Box kind of games. It is about Microsoft ‘s tactical shift in the online space from going it alone, and building stuff itself, –to partnering, and sometimes investing and exiting business.
Microsoft Messenger, which is the oldest online app in the suite, now provides instant messaging services to about 350 million users, and from now on Windows Live Writer works specifically with the WordPress.com blog service by default. Hopefully Skype, and Google Voice will show MS the way to monitize that business app yet.
With the round of lawsuits by proxy, in Android -Motorola, or for acquisitions – MS is just doing what Marc Anderseen (who’s apparently a better VC than Paul Allen was), Sun and co did to it in the nineties.
Google seems to be regretting putting a spade in the Yahoo acquisition- that would have tied up a big chunk of Idle MS cash- leaving it little room for niche investments (like the 250 mill that helped Facebook ramp up in time).
The real surprise here could be Apple- it has shown little interest in cloud computing- and it seems to be testing the waters with Ping. But Apple sure smells competition- and Android is doing to Iphone what Windows did to the Mac in the early 1990’s.
Google lacks presence in online gaming (despite it’s own Zynga investment)- and needs to start monetizing properties like Android OS (say 10$ for every phone license ??), Google Maps (as an app for GPS) and Google Voice. Indeed it may be time for the big G to start thinking of spinning off atleast some products- earning better returns, while retaining control (dual stock splits) and killing those anti trust lawyer fees forever.
As the Ancient Chinese said, May you live in interesting times. Fun to watch the online games people play.