Old Story Line to Newest Google-Microsoft Spat

Anyone watching Google and Microsoft spar over search results has to be torn between being shocked and amused. Google accuses Microsoft of stealing its search results for Bing. Microsoft says it doesn't steal Google results. A lot of discussion ensues--some of it hysterical. My bottom line: Bing matters.

There's no way Google would give a rat's ass how its public results were being used if it wasn't worried about Bing. Now the Google vs. Microsoft spat is very public, slightly entertaining and makes for great headlines. My biggest issue with this whole battle is that it's a bit fuzzy where the inspiration started and where the theft began. But Google's accusations and Microsoft's denials and explanations are certainly notable. After all, this is the tech industry, a place where everyone builds on the ideas of someone else (you could say copies).

  • Google's business model came from Overture.
  • Google's Android army is arguably a rip off and attempted enhancement of Apple's iPhone.
  • Of course, Oracle would say Android is a Java rip-off.
  • Microsoft's Windows franchise was born as an answer (imitation) to Apple's Mac to some. The reality is both Microsoft and Apple ripped off Xerox's PARC. OK, "ripped off" is too strong. Both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs went to PARC and got inspired to copy a UI.
  • Google has a bevy of social experiments that look like Facebook and Twitter envy to me.
  • Isn't Google Docs inspired by well, Office?
  • Microsoft's Xbox is the result of Sony PlayStation envy.
  • Zune is an iPod wannabe.
  • Microsoft's Office got its start by emulating the likes of WordPerfect and Lotus Notes and then squashing them.
  • Internet Explorer was an answer to Netscape's Navigator.

I could go on for at least another 10 bullet points. Funny how that works eh? But that's the tech industry. Of course, Bing is going to emulate Google results. Google is the big dog. Your results have to be at least as good as Google's.

Now Google's case is notable. Bing has matched misspelled terms. Is this theater from Google or scientific evidence? Who knows? We're in the middle of a Google said, Microsoft said pissing match. And honestly, I don't have much of an informed opinion to say who's right. My guess is that this is a country of Microsoft, Google and Apple states--and little to no agreement. Your take will follow your bias and preference for each vendor.

I do know the following (as judged by the actions of both Google and Microsoft):

  • First, both Google and Microsoft will protect their respective turf. We have two juggernauts that arguably are more comfortable playing defense and protecting cash cows.
  • Second, it's a bit fuzzy what this "protect this house" approach means for innovation if anything.
  • And finally. Microsoft's Bing matters. Bing launches a new interface. Google mimics the approach with its results--at least until everyone screams Bing envy It took a while, but Bing has gotten under Google's skin--at least enough to warrant a roundhouse punch.

This article originally appeared on ZDNet

  • Larry Dignan

    Larry Dignan is editor in chief of ZDNet and editorial director of CNET's TechRepublic. He has covered the technology and financial-services industries since 1995.

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