Google vs Microsoft – the Search Battle

Posted by: Rea Maor In: Internet and SEO - Sunday, June 10th, 2007

Isn’t it great when elephants fight? Grab your popcorn and have a seat – we have a heck of a show.

Being that Google (search giant) has this product they’ve put out which does desktop search. And Microsoft (operating system giant) has their desktop search. These two competing technologies do for your computer what Google and MSN live do for the web: search it.

So in Vista, you can’t disable the desktop search. It comes bundled (remember that word later). Bundled means users can’t turn it off or remove it, so if they get Google’s desktop search it won’t work. And Google says to the US government “Hey! that’s not fair!”

Now, this is a sore spot for Microsoft, because remember they’ve been in this kind of hot water before. Way back in the 1990’s, Microsoft was getting convicted of using its monopoly power to bundle Internet Explorer with its desktop – you cannot remove it from your system, because the code is woven into the file system and everything else. That made it compete unfairly with then-current Netscape Navigator*.

*Oh, by the way, you may have heard of a rumor about Netscape Navigator 9 being released. It was – to each of the three developers left on the Netscape team. Netscape will now go lie down next to Amiga.

Anyhow, that whole competing-unfairly with another web-browser thing was the whole crux of why Microsoft got into trouble before. They also have a pending trial in Europe about their bundled media player. And now if they get a second conviction in the USA about their bundled desktop search, and they lose their trained pet assistant attorney general who is currently holding office in the US, things may look grim.

Some questions that are swirling around the web:

  • Q: “How is this different from, say, ‘grep’ on a Unix system? Every Unix, Linux, and BSD comes with grep.” A: You can remove grep. ‘apt-get remove grep’ on a Debian system. Also, you can leave grep in and use Google desktop search anyway.
  • Q: “Why does Google even care? Desktop search is free!” A: Ad revenue, ad revenue, ad revenue.
  • Q: “Why does Microsoft care? Desktop search is free!” A: That’s a little more mysterious. Consistently, Microsoft has shown an almost fanatical determination to shut down any software that isn’t made by them, whenever they get the chance. Even when it just plain doesn’t matter, makes no difference in their bottom line at all.

Now, when will bookies start taking bets on the outcome of corporate legal battles? That’s what I’m waiting for.

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