Google executives time and time again when asked about the rising power and influence of Facebook always spout the same dismissive talking point. I’m paraphrasing but it goes a little something like this, “ we don’t look at Facebook as a competitor, our true competition that we are worried about is Microsoft.” Microsoft? Outside of the Enterprise and Consumer Electronics, where on the web should Google be worried about Microsoft? Surely not Bing? This got me to thinking, is Google fighting last decades war? Like an old Cold War general, Google still sees Microsoft as a threat. The battle against Microsoft was last decades battle and their no longer the formidable forces it once was, government anti-trust suits beat that out of them. This gave the giant innovators paralysis that allowed an agile up start to win the war for search and the web. In my personal opinion Microsoft is now IBM, big, profitable and slow. Don’t get me wrong, their attempting some cool things with Bing, but Google’s mind shared couple with Android leave Redmond in the dust. The Nokia announcement aside, Microsoft is an Enterprise and Platform company that occasionally makes great consumer products. I think the focus on Microsoft as Google’s chief competitor will die a slow death once Larry Page takes the helm. I believe Eric Schmidt neuroses about Microsoft stems from the bloody battles he fought against Microsoft as an executive at Sun and CEO of Novell in the 90’s. Back then Gates and the boys left indelible scars on those the crossed them. Mr. Schmidt was part of that generation and I bet when he took the reins of Google he was determined to not let Microsoft win again. Could the post traumatic scars of its CEO have left Google blind to the growth of Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare? This is a classic example of fighting the last war. While Google dispatched its engineers to win the web versus Microsoft, they weren’t looking forward to the next web. Microsoft is not a real competitor in Google’s space. Microsoft is IBM. In the 80’s Apple and Steve Jobs feared IBM when they should have been looking toward Microsoft and for that misstep they paid dearly, a mistake that took nearly 15 years to recover from. With the war pretty much won, Google is still on a myopic crusade to free us from the chains of heavy, bloated desktop software and while that’s all well and good, it’s an old battle. What the tech industry needs now is open, distributed, federated standards for social layer to the web and it looks like thay might be getting there. The real battle ahead is liberating user data from the the silos of Twitter, Facebook and their ilk. Hopefully Larry will recognize this on day one.