Today, there was an article called What Facebook Should Steal From Microsoft’s Playbook in TechCrunch. I’d like to start out by reminding readers of a few fundamental differences between the two.

Microsoft/Facebook

Microsoft/Facebook

Developers
Microsoft allowed developers to use .NET to develop for Windows, and recently dumped it.
Facebook is allowing developers to use any of the popular front-end or back-end languages (PHP, Javascript, Python, Ruby, etc) to develop Facebook applications. Additionally Facebook sends free T-shirts to developers who participate in their Hacker Cups.
Basically, Facebook developers have a lot of insentive as they can generate revenue directly through thier apps. And Facebook supports, somewhat, their developers. I’ve felt loved from Facebook (though the feeling isn’t exactly mutual). I never talked to a Microsoft C+ or.NET developer who FELT loved.

Platform
Facebook’s platform connects the world… Microsoft’s was isolated to individual desktops and a Clippy… There was literally no interconnectivity or aggregation of data on a social network… just bits on a computer generated by the typer, and syncing your Word Doc to share over the internet is STILL a nightmare for most users. For some reason, Microsoft never connected their users socially… oh, wait, I think they might have a completely different model… Wait… let’s see…

Users
Facebook’s users are addicted because they want to be…. Microsft users chose Microsoft because the Windows operating system was winning by default (what else could you get before ’09 in a Best Buy???)… And since Microsoft isn’t winning in O.S.s anymore (and because mega-retailer Best Buy sells Apple computers now), everyone’s flocking to Apple’s operating system and hardware… There haven’t been any mass flocks from Facebook yet (despite Diaspora).

Revenue
Microsoft generated money for their developers and shared their own revenue by…. wait…. they didn’t really. Developers did their own marketing, because Microsoft didn’t and doesn’t have a social platform to support exploiting an audience.
Facebook is thinking about ways to do revenue-sharing, by allowing developers to take advantage of Facebook Credits (soon to be introduced in mass-scale in the US….). This is iffy benefit-wise for FB developers, but the prospect of it working out well is there.

E-Commerce
Facebook is trying to do about 40% or more of all e-Commerce globally, and many of those transactions will be done over Facebook apps. TechCrunch thinks their primary model is advertising… maybe because they are owned by AOL and out of the loop a bit.
I can’t say anything even similar about Microsoft in e-Commerce.

People
The leadership at Facebook is young, connected to the government via Sheryl Sandberg, and tight… And does not have too many contractual obligations to vendors that hinders the service from improving for users.
Microsoft was explained to me by a current employee as “a bunch of canoes trying to go down the same stream in the same direction. We’re not a ship like people think we are.”

Ownership
Microsoft is owned by many people all over the world who want a say. Facebook is privately owned by Zuckerberg and a handful of other billionaires… exclusively.

Future
Facebook might not be the best thing since sliced bread, but they have many, many options that look favorable moving forward in the next dozen quarters.
Microsoft might have had many options at one point, but now it’s: XBox, expanding the Bing user-base, and spending too much on ineffective advertising because they are becoming more and more out of touch (Have you seen the Windows phones?)

And that, TechCrunch, is why the two companies shouldn’t really be compared to fill up space in your blog. I was disappointed by the thoughtlessness that went into this article to attract readers with two hot names in a headline.

Because, at the end of the day, and the beginning, too: they’re apples and oranges.

What do you think?

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