It was just a couple of days ago that in a piece about Microsoft, I suggested it might be prime time to return to the old MS model of 'giving stuff away' to try and capture large chunks of online market share.
There is no better time than an 'economic downturn' to win users, potentially over the long term, by providing some important products for FREE.
Google and Microsoft (and others) have spent millions developing and / or acquiring software over the last decade. While their internal development and deployment approaches differ, they have made 'some' products readily available to the public. Google, in particular, has rolled out one product at a time, many times competing directly with Microsoft with web-based products.
Late yesterday came word that Google has released a new Search Based Keyword Tool. While Yahoo and Google have both delivered keyword 'suggestion' tools over the years and more recently the highly touted Google Ad Planner (which seems to have disappeared from the news but is a great tool for media buyers), this new tool takes a somewhat different approach. Barry Schwartz has posted a good review and walk through at Search Engine Land here.
From Microsoft comes word that their paid 'OneCare' virus and malware protection program will be phased out over the coming months and be replaced by a FREE product.
Microsoft already has a publicly available family of Beta products under the Windows Live brand (noted here on Monday) which now includes the new Live Family Safety - a child protection and monitoring program. It's a safe bet any new consumer virus product would probably be launched along with the products in this new 'Live Suite' which is already extensive and includes, among others things, 25 GB of FREE online storage from Microsoft's SkyDrive.
Just the beginning gang. As Google keeps the cash going by adding ads to many of their existing online products and Microsoft hopefully realizes that some of their internal competition is costly and delivers more products directly to consumer (and small business), the 'downturn' could end up being a 'free software homerun' for everyone as these companies (and others) continue to battle for your desktop.