Google and Microsoft Face Off

Dennis Faas's picture

While it's heating up outside across North America, it seems there's nothing hotter than the battle being waged between Google and Microsoft.

In recent weeks, months, and in some respects years, both companies have been forced to defend themselves for their impressive places within the search and software spheres. Now the two are at each other's throats, with Google alleging that Microsoft's Windows Vista is hurting competition and should be adjusted for antitrust purposes. (Source:

So, what's got Google so hot under the collar?

Google is upset over the way Vista runs external desktop programs. The case is similar to the one that emerged in the 1990s between Microsoft and Netscape, once a browser titan (now reduced to the recycle bin by Internet Explorer).

Microsoft trounced Netscape's case in the '90s, and critics believe they'll defeat Google here, too. Software expert Rob Helm argues "Microsoft beat Netscape in part by leveraging its relationship with PC manufacturers...This is a lot subtler." (Source:

Indeed, Vista doesn't prevent Google Desktop from running, the latter just doesn't run particularly well on the new operating system (OS). That's because most of the built-in search engines (Start Menu, Windows Explorer, etc) are proprietary, and installing secondary software slows down an already demanding OS.

Although Microsoft's policy on this one is expectedly sneaky, it's hardly criminal. Most experts, including Helm, believe Google will fail if it pursues the matter deep into U.S. courts.

In all likelihood, it's the pot calling the kettle black. "Even if Microsoft's software was perfectly written, the way Google interacts with it might be bad, and either company might be at fault," said Helm.

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