|The Washington Canard
Where C-SPAN is the local TV news
Monday, May 01, 2006
DON'T BE STUPID
Regular readers shouldn't have too much trouble discerning my general opinion of Microsoft, considering my readiness to buy another Apple after my previous one gave up the ghost (albeit temporarily). This is about more than operating systems, though. I haven't used Hotmail in years — I use Gmail almost exclusively. Nor can I remember the last time I performed an MSN search — once again, I'm using Google (unless I'm using Technorati). Despite threats to set up shop elsewhere, I'm still using Google's industry-leading blogging service, and MSN Spaces is not my destination when I do.
That said, I find myself having a very strong pro-Microsoft, anti-Google reaction to a report in this morning's New York Times:
The new browser includes a search box in the upper-right corner that is typically set up to send users to Microsoft's MSN search service. Google contends that this puts Microsoft in a position to unfairly grab Web traffic and advertising dollars from its competitors.
First of all, competition in the browser market hasn't been better since the heady days of Netscape vs. Microsoft (for the record, I stuck by Netscape Navigator until doing so was pointless). Yes, Microsoft holds 80%+ of the browser market, but Firefox has obviously made serious inroads as of late.
Of course, Microsoft stays big because it's already big. To the amusement of myself and many far geekier than same, Microsoft is too busy scrambling on functionality to think about innovation. But this fact makes it all the more relevant — not to mention more galling — considering that Google is the installation default for the search boxes in Firefox, Opera and Safari and on AOL.
And yet, sounding vaguely like a NARAL spokeswoman who studiously avoids using the word "abortion," Google's spokeswoman protests Microsoft's alleged intransigence:
What's even more hypocritical is that no browser with Google built in offers such a choice, and self-proclaimed "search veteran" Niall Kennedy (not the hawkish Brit Harvard prof, you're thinking of Niall Ferguson) points out that you really have to work to put a different engine in Safari. How pro-choice is Google really?
And is Google that insecure about the service they provide? After all, Microsoft is big, but Google currently has half the market share in online search — so wouldn't a lot of people just hop over to google.com and find things like they do now? Or, I don't know, open up Preferences and make the adjustment?
Even though this post defends the Microsoft position, I rather I doubt, in the long run, that MSN Search will prove useful enough to displace Google. And if it does prove the superior search engine? Well, I will follow Kennedy's advice and point my Safari search box to MSN as well.
Google is famous for having in its mission statement the injunction "Don't be evil." Methinks they should have added: "Don't be stupid."