Some stories seem to have been around forever and reports of renewed interest in Yahoo by Microsoft feel like an ancient saga such as Beowulf, a series of Shakespeare interminable history plays, Jason’s adventures with the Argonauts or, closer to home, almost as long as Bill Gates has spent edging off centre stage.
If as the baseball legend Yogi Berra might have put it, Microsoft-Yahoo “feels like déjà vu all over again”, that doesn’t mean we should underestimate the serious intent of the world’s largest software company as it bids to be a leader on the internet. Microsoft has a long history of getting what it wants even if its first couple of times attempting to break into markets have had a slapstick element to them.
Windows 1.0 was comic and Windows 2.0 was tragic but with version 3.0, Microsoft quite literally changed the face of personal computing by popularising the desktop graphical user interface. SQL Server wasn’t so hot for a long time and neither was Internet Explorer. Similarly, Microsoft’s business applications unit until quite recently seemed the mad woman in its attic but is showing signs of a breakthrough.
Persistence, as Robert Bruce knew well, is a virtue – and it doesn’t hurt that Microsoft has the funds to knock repeatedly on the door of business sectors before breaking and entering through sheer force.