Microsoft Acquires Foldershare (deathwatch begins)

Microsoft just “acquired Foldershare”:http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/051103/sfth034.html?.v=35, which provides a service that helps you keep folders in sync between multiple machines on a LAN and across the Internet. I’ve used “Foldershare”:http://foldershare.com to share files with my brother, but my main use has been to keep files on my laptop automatically backed up onto my desktop machine. I’ve been pretty “happy with it”:http://www.geekfun.com/2004/10/14/a-new-twist-p2p-filesharing/ since I wrote about it a year ago, but I’m not really happy with this latest development.

For one thing, the “Mac client has disappeared”:http://gigaom.com/2005/11/03/microsoft-buys-foldershare-will-mac-client-be-roadkill/ from their website with some question as to its return. For another thing, this acquisition is part of Microsoft’s recently anounced “Live” services push, so I’m sure that the utility and value of foldershare as a simple and easy to use private file sharing and synchronization tool will be subsumed into Microsoft’s larger services strategy. Likely outcomes of this transformation:

* Product becomes Windows only
* Service becomes bundled with other offerings I’m not interested in and the price goes up at the same time.
* Security suffers because being a Microsoft offering instantly makes it a more desirable target.
* Client becomes more bloated to support other service offerings from Microsoft. It isn’t hard to imagine that they’d try and migrate Foldershare’s client base over to Groove, which they acquired earlier in the year.
* Google Desktop search support disappears. I won’t mind this one. Foldershare lets you aggregate google desktop search queries over multiple systems, something that has always bothered me a bit.

Not that any of this is unexpected. Small companies get bought by bigger companies. Often those acquisitions are part of a larger strategy and so the product focus shifts or dissolves into a larger offering. Sometimes, those products are simply milked for all they are worth by putting most of the ongoing investment into sales and marketing, and letting the core technology whither.

Update: Well, it looks like I’m wrong on a few key points. The whole service has been made free, and the Mac client is back.

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