It's the year 2010. Microsoft owns Yahoo and has just changed the name of Flickr to Microsoft Flickr Live Photo-Sharing Service for Digital Camera Enthusiasts. The service is still free, but Windows Vista users will have to validate their copy of Vista as "genuine" first to use it. What has Microsoft wrought?
That's just one of the nightmares we can foresee from a Microsoft-Yahoo merger. But some good things could ensue for computer users too. Here's what we'd love - and hate - to see happen.
Love: Sending a Wake-Up Call to Google
Google has been untouchable in many aspects when it comes to search, Web innovations, and free cool services such as Google Maps. But perhaps Google has grown too complacent. While we are waiting to see what becomes of Google's mobile strategy, we're less enthralled by services such as Knol. We want to see the combined force of Microsoft and Yahoo give Google an honest run for its money when it comes to innovative online services.
Hate: Goodbye, Beloved Services
The shuttering of Yahoo or MSN services is something we'd hate to see (actually, we wouldn't shed any tears over Windows Live), but it's inevitable some will get the axe, given the overlapping services owned by Microsoft and Yahoo. The merged company would simply create too many redundant services and the odds are some of our beloved services would be killed. Branded services such as Yahoo Mail and Hotmail would survive, but there is a good chance they'd share one development team. Over time the services would become virtually identical, sharing features, functions, bugs, and limitations. Microsoft's instant messaging system sneezes, for example, and Yahoo Messenger catches a cold.
Love: Yahoo Boosts Microsoft Live
We think both behemoths could learn a lot from the other especially when it comes to the look, feel, and usability of Web pages and services. We'd like to see Windows Live integrated into simpler interfaces. Right now there is Windows Live and Microsoft Office Live Small Business. Both are not tied to directly either to the Windows OS or Microsoft Office. Both Microsoft Live sites seem so disconnected.
Yahoo was best in the early days at keeping the interface simple on services such as Yahoo Travel. Today's Yahoo can't match the minimalism of many Google offerings, but it still has designs that are simpler and easier to use than many counterparts at Microsoft.
Hate: Microsoft Yahoo Chaos
Combining the two giants will create confusion. Could you use your MSN Messenger ID to login to Yahoo Mail? Will your Passport be accepted at Yahoo's border?
Love: Uber Media Site
We'd like to see MSN-Yahoo team with NBC (and related partners) and a variety of Internet TV startups to make a one-stop destination for video content. Good sites like Hulu.com and other Web-based video on demand sites are spread across the Web in a hodgepodge manner with no central site to serve as an online media master.
Yahoo is much more a traditional media company than Google at this stage and already offers great text and some TV news. Couple Yahoo with MSN and Microsoft's Web technologies (such as Silverlight) and you could see the Web's first media powerhouse.