Meanwhile, Google was somewhere else entirely. While Microsoft has been agonising how to seize the search space - including failed negotiations to acquire once-glorious early search pioneer, Yahoo! - Google has plain and simply moved on.
It has taken Microsoft a decade to make its way to the battle ground, turning up late to a fight that has already been won, the victor having since turned their attention to loftier pursuits.
In the same week Bing came out, Google unveiled their secret project Walkabout, or as we now know it, Google Wave.
Google Wave has been two years in the works, but yet it seems is still the only contender in its area, with no other companies raising hands to say they were also trying to solve the problem Wave addresses.
Google Wave addresses the simple question, “What would online messaging look like if we built it today?”
Rather than be shackled by the legacies of the past – digital representations of analogue communications like postal mail and telephone calls – Wave brings together e-mail and instant messaging, as well as forums and blogs and wikis and business collaboration all in one new protocol.
Rather than require a user to decide on a specific form of communication which the message will forever be bound to – like an e-mail or IM – Google Wave implements living messages. They are simultaneously e-mails and IMs. They are blogs and wikis and documents all at the one time.
Such messages need a catchy name, and after a healthy dose of Firefly Google’s engineers decided on “wave.” Each distinct, individual conversation is known as a wave, much as we think of an e-mail thread today, but without a collection of outdated versions and with greater clarity on who is replying to which part.
Meanwhile, what was Microsoft up to?